Why You Can’t Get Good Customer Service When You Travel
Newsflash: sometimes you get bad customer service when you travel, and it’s all your fault.
I can still remember one of my first restaurant visits in the USA. I had been dating my boyfriend only for a few months, and we were on a romantic date in a nice restaurant. As the date went on, I found myself very irritated by the waitress. Her bubbly talk was overwhelming me, as were the amount of daily menu choices, salad dressing options, and trying to choose what toppings I wanted with my baked potato. Why did the waitress keep visiting our table before our food had even arrived – was she hitting on my man? Even after I got my dish, she managed to come back and ask ?how is everything tasting?, before I had even taken a bite! I was completely appalled by the intrusive customer service!
Culture vs communication
I mentioned all of the above to my boyfriend. I was fondly remembering the restaurant where we had dined in Germany just a few months before. We?d had our romantic discussions, held hands and just stared at one another. The waitress was nowhere to be found, and I had no idea what she looked like or what her name was. I thought that this was the definition of a great restaurant experience. But my American boyfriend? For him, our German restaurant date represented everything that?s wrong with customer service.
I realized that our notions of good or bad customer service are rooted in cultural bias (and that I was guilty of being a Snobby European in an American restaurant). Even when people think they are giving us good customer service, we can perceive it in a very different way. Our own behavior and expectations have an impact on our experience. So next time you travel and you feel like you?re not receiving the level of customer service you expect, maybe it?s a good idea to stop and ask – is this a case of cultural misunderstanding?
A microsociety in space
What does this have to do with space? A lot, actually.?Imagine how many cultural misunderstandings happen ?in the most common settings and situations on Earth, such as dining out.
In space, where our ?bodies function in a different way, where we have to count on the help of others to survive, and you can?t just leave or even take some alone time, things can quickly get complicated!??Behavioral scientists have been studying astronauts’ interactions on board International Space Station for years, but most of the studies have focused on effects living in small quarters, or living in isolation.
Dr. Alice Gorman (Flinders University-Adelaide, SA, AUS) and Dr. Justin Walsh (Chapman University ? Orange, CA, USA) realized that one important type of study was completely missing from space exploration: archaeology in terms of human behavior. The International Space Station Archaeological Project (ISSAP), which began in summer 2017, is the first-ever large-scale archaeological investigation of a human habitation site in space, and it studies the crew of the ISS as a ?microsociety in a miniworld?.
Strength in diversity
Today, cultural understanding is an important part of astronaut training, and something we all could benefit from here on Earth too. As the Space Age matured, it became apparent that a much more diverse group of astronauts was needed in terms of ?skill sets and backgrounds – for example, computer scientists, doctors, physicists, and engineers. The astronauts on board the ISS are multigendered, multiethnic, multinational and multilingual.
We can learn a lot from this diversified microcommunity. It proves that if we just open our minds and see things from a different point of view, we can overcome cultural bias. If astronaut training helps me to become a better world citizen, then I?m all in.
Oh, and the boyfriend I mentioned? We have been married for 19 years now, despite our different cultural backgrounds. Love certainly makes it easier to break down cultural barriers.
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What an interesting topic! I know that being an American in other countries was sometimes a relief (I liked that the waiters left me alone), but also stressful when it came to working with the natives in that country. We just had basic cultural differences that sometimes got in the way of our work. Part of what I had to do was quickly figure out what the cultural differences were and adapt to make it work. I would love to read a report on how that works for astronauts on the ISS. I imagine it’s like my experience but on steroids.