My food almost fell out of my mouth as I turned to see what the commotion was. Someone was angry and wanted everyone to know it.

This occurred recently, when I was out to dinner with my wife and in-laws. We were having a pleasant meal on a lazy weekend afternoon, enjoying the food and company. Apparently, another patron in the restaurant wasn’t having such a pleasant time. This patron felt his server incorrectly and in error tended to another table before his. Rather than be patient and wait the likely few short moments it would have taken the server to come back to him, or rather than voice his displeasure in a calm, respectful manner, this patron got extremely angry, extremely fast.

“I CAN’T BELIEVE you went to their table and not ours!” the man wailed. “We were here first and IT’S YOUR JOB TO KNOW what’s going on and who is first and who has been waiting.”

The server was extremely polite and apologized profusely, saying something to the effect that she simply dropped off some waters to the other table, and, when doing so, the people seated there began asking questions. She told the angry man she got away as quickly as she could, and that it was only a couple of minutes. He continued to voice his displeasure, eventually letting the server go back to doing her job.

Just like all of you, I’ve seen some poor, reprehensible customer service in my life. This was not one of those moments. This patron got too mad, too quickly for an instance that was really too small for a legit complaint.

My point here is this: A lot of people have seemingly raised their expectations to almost unfair levels when it comes to their expectation of good customer service. And whether this is right or wrong, businesses — including tree care companies — need to adjust to these higher expectations.

Have you noticed that your customers are more easily agitated nowadays? Have you noticed higher, and sometimes maybe even unreasonable, expectations from clients? Maybe people now are more apt to criticize work, or more loudly voice their displeasure of an estimate, or bill, they don’t agree with. Maybe you’ve had situations recently where customers are particularly rude to an employee, and you find yourself defending that employee – maybe this has occurred multiple times over a short timeframe.

I wouldn’t be shocked if your answer is yes to each of those questions.

Look, we all want good customer service, whether we’re eating out, shopping for clothes or getting a tree removed. I’m not saying we should lower expectations because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of the businesses to which we are handing over our hard-earned money. I’m saying that businesses and customer service workers need to adjust to the public’s rising expectations, almost like a new market trend.

Maybe it’s time to refresh your employees (those who deal with customers directly) on best customer service practices. Whether it’s answering the phone, providing an estimate, cleaning up a property, or doing on-the-ground job site work, tree care pros need to meet this new customer service standard, for better or worse.

Your livelihood depends on it.

Consider this jaw-dropping figure: Consumers are twice as likely to share their bad customer service experiences than they are to talk about positive experience ( From the 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer). Or this one: 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree ( according to management consulting firm Bain & Co.).

Practice your courtesies. Practice your smiles.

You’re gonna need them.