Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started and the economic shock that ensued, there appears to be a continuing theme when it comes to service compared to before the pandemic. It’ been 18 months since the start of it and now I’m beginning to question “Is Slow Service the New Normal?”

It’s Everywhere

Whether it is business to business or business to customer, or even person to person, it often feels as though everything has slowed down dramatically, along with the level of expectation.

There are so many headwinds beyond our control that it is almost a built in excuse for poor or slow service.

I’m not complaining but rather observing.

For example you’ll hear that it will take days or weeks to get a product or service because of so many reasons. Those reasons run the gamut.

Some examples I’ve heard personally are:

Auto service garage: “Sorry we can’t help you with your tire problem we are booked solid for days and we had some guys that didn’t show up this morning.”

Contractor for cabinet refacing project: “The manufacturing lead times are really slow…the project is going to be delayed a number of weeks.”

Garage door spring repair man: “Sorry about your broken garage door spring. Normally I always have plenty of supply in my truck but there is a spring shortage so all I have is a lower quality spring available that won’t last as long.”

Called the IRS for a tax notice: Voicemail after hitting the prompts: “Sorry we can’t answer your call due to high call volume. Try again the next business day.” After trying for days and not getting through and later reading an article that said the IRS is only able to answer 3% of all incoming calls right now, I stopped trying.

Called the airline to discuss their change in my flight: “The current wait time is over 2 hours. You can stay on hold or we can call you back.”

I’m sure you have plenty of stories of your own. It would probably be hard to find someone that hasn’t had one of these experiences.

The Sense of Urgency Feels different

It seems like a combination of the work from home (more relaxed environment) and the high number of built in excuses (can’t get materials, don’t have the labor, etc) has diluted the sense of urgency across the board.

What I mean by that is in many cases you don’t see or feel the “hustle.” Instead, we just expect the slower pace and delays as it has become too frequent.

Will it Get Better?

I think it will get better over time. As the supply chain disruptions finally ease up (will likely take months or even years) and more people become employed and take jobs in the areas of greatest need, we will see things slowly get better.

However, after months or years of slow or no service, it may become a new normal whereby the sense of urgency won’t be as good as it was before the pandemic. This isn’t necessarily right or wrong, it’s just different. This could be extremely frustrating for anyone that wants a high level of service.

What can we do about it?

First, we can make sure we have the awareness. By understanding what is happening we are better apt to adapt and cope with the changes. Also if we realize what is going on, we will be less angry when the level of service doesn’t meet our expectations.

Second, we can do a better job planning ahead. Knowing there are big delays due to labor or material shortages (or even a lack of urgency), we all need to do a better job of planning and ordering well in advance. If you order way ahead (when possible) you can still get your product or service on time.

Other Reading & Resources

The Toolbox

Atomic Habits and the Benefit to your Finances

Lifestyle Inflation – the hidden financial killer


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