I was waiting in a long line at Pressbryan recently (a convenience store like 7/11) and contemplating the customer service concept in Sweden. Or should I say, I was contemplating the lack of customer service. Even though the line was out the door, only one of the staff members waited on customers while the other continued to slowly stock the shelves. When the person in front of me finally reached the cash register, she then pulled her backpack off her back and proceeded to look for her wallet.
Of course, she did not do this while she was waiting in the long line and of course it took her a long time to find her wallet. She basically emptied her pack before she found it.
And of course the clerk did not ask to serve the next person in line so as to move things along more quickly. Once the women finally found her wallet, she then proceeded to chat with the clerk for a few minutes, completely oblivious to the glares she was getting. I would have laughed if I was not so annoyed.
At my old office, there was a cafe where you could buy snacks and coffee. Inevitably, the line was long but only one clerk would wait on one person at a time. Instead of starting a latte and then waiting on the next person while it brews, the clerk stands and waits with the coffee. I always wanted to go back behind the counter and show them how to multitask. But that would not be very Swedish of me.
Long lines always seem to bring out the American in me.