04/25/2011 01:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2011

America Sucks at Being "Service Economy"

I have just been on 10 airplanes over the course of 11 days. I was in seven different airports, each with stores, restaurants, etc. I have been in countless cabs and other forms of transportation between airports, meetings. All this frenzied travel had nothing whatsoever to do with customer service, nor was I pondering America as a service economy.

But it slammed home all by itself. It. What it? That if America has shifted from an economy of making things to an economy of servicing things, then you would think we would be getting good at it.

However the stark reality exists. People have become rude. Manners have fallen by the wayside. The economic strains and other societal forces combining with everyone's head stuck to their electronic tether have created a downward spiral of customer "service."

At the 2010 Gov 2.0 LA Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, and I had a discussion about bringing customer service best practices from business to government. But in light of the current state of things in the U.S., I now believe more is needed.

If America is to be a service economy and succeed, and even innovate, then we need to buckle down and focus. People, if you have a job, be happy, do the best you can do, smile, and treat people the way you yourself would like to be treated. Plain and simple. Anything else just creates confusion, bad feelings and ill will towards your brand, or yourself. If your job is to service people, then remember that the people actually come first, not some script handed to you by a supervisor who could care less.

Some of my colleagues at Constellation Research Group are the worlds leaders on customer experience having led some of the biggest brands to success. When you look at their research and other writings on these subjects, it becomes clear that if America is to succeed as a Service Economy, then we need to take seriously the training, human relations and communications components that make the difference between world class service and customer service failures. We need to be creating educational tools that start to train young people in schools. Maybe it might even be time to institute manners classes and help people manage expectations of their own behavior in a service environment. Certainly, if our future is service then we need to be raising the level of service all across our economy.