It used to be when you were the next person on line and suddenly it was your turn, the person behind the counter said "May I help the next customer, please?" I liked that. It was succinct, accurate, polite and respectful.
Somewhere along the way it became simply "Next customer!" Now it was a command, not a request. No longer polite, but still clear and accurate.
Then we got "Next guest!" That's when I started to have a problem.
I'm not your guest. We are conducting a business transaction. I have different expectations of someone who is providing me with a good or service in exchange for money than I do of someone who is providing hospitality to me out of a spirit of friendship and benevolence.
In the last couple of months, I've detected the beginnings of a transition to "Following guest!"
First of all, what a complete 180-degree flip of the perspective of customer service. From my perspective, I'm about to be served: I'm next. It's only from your perspective behind the counter that I'm 'following', i.e. I'm the new schmuck after the previous one in the uninterrupted chain of schmucks that marches up to your counter. I guess that's the message the people in management who came up with the customer service script wanted to send. OK: duly noted.
Secondly, I'm not being lead to you by the random stranger who happened to wind up on line in front me. Our relative positions in no way imply a relationship of leadership or stalkerism. I don't follow anyone.