Self-service supposedly empowers consumers and gives them more autonomy. Personally, I prefer the days when you drove to a gas station and an attendant asked what grade of gas you wanted, filled the tank, checked the fluids, wiped your windshield and took your payment.Gas stations switched to self-service pumps not because consumers begged Exxon or Shell for the privilege to fill their own tanks. The switch was made so that gas stations could save money by cutting the number of attendants from a handful to just one clerk.

Excellent customer service has tangible value; if consumers are treated well, they'll remember the experience and become repeat buyers. Today many corporations believe that consumers want to take matters into their own hands. But there are a lot of people-not just your typical couch potatoes-who prefer full-service treatment, who don't want to be burdened with making simple decisions.

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