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- What’s one of your all-time favorite excellent customer service stories?
- Have you ever worked in retail or a job where you had to provide customer service? What was your experience like?
- Any CS horror stories?
- How do you like to be treated when you walk into a brick & mortar store? After a “hello” would you rather be left alone? or asked if you need any help/told about the latest deals?
- I can’t think of a fifth question 😉
I think a lot about customer service now. Sure, I like to receive excellent service, but now that I also run a (very small) retail business, I have to GIVE it too. It’s not hard for me to do; I naturally believe that the customer is always right, and will default to doing whatever I can to make her happy, without regard to my bottom line. Every customer is a potential repeat customer, and first impressions are key. If I mess up, I do whatever I need to do to make it right – I think it costs a lot more to provide poor customer service than it does to provide excellent.
Anyway…on to my answers:
My latest all-time favorite excellent CS story: I finally placed a recurring order at Livwell Nutrition for the vegan vanilla protein powder I so desperately love I ran out once. After placing my order I got an email from someone (one of the owners?) that their shipment of vanilla was delayed several days and couldn’t ship out immediately, but as an apology would I accept a free bag of cocoa? Uh, yes please. That’s a $29 value, and very generous, considering they could have sent some free samples, or like other companies do, a discount off a future order, or partial refund. The company wanted me to have my protein powder quickly, which I appreciated.
I don’t love the cocoa as much as the vanilla, but I can tell you now, that Livwell has a customer for life. And I hope if you’re shopping for vegan protein powder you’ll consider them as well. The vanilla is excellent; I’ve been using it for months and really enjoy it as a way to get a little more protein, and a few servings of greens (I add 1/3 of a GIANT tub of spinach to it, along with frozen blueberries and frozen cauliflower).
I also had a great experience at Home Depot recently, am always impressed by the service at Elizabeth Suzann, and I appreciate Nordstrom’s customer service team. The sales associates on the floor are another story altogether though…
When I was going to graduate school and after my divorce I worked at Starbucks, so definitely had to provide great customer service there, and I generally loved it. Also, back then (not sure about now?) the company was very supportive of us doing whatever we needed to do to make the customer happy – we had complete discretion to hand out free drink coupons if we needed to. Working the drive thru was challenging though…why do people have to be so short and nasty when they’re in a “hurry”??
It’s weird, but I tend not to remember the bad CS experiences as much as the good ones. Maybe I just move on and don’t shop there again? I can say that I’ve NEVER had great customer service from a cable or broadband service provider…
I love a warm “hello” and an acknowledgement that I’ve walked in, and that’s it. I don’t want to be followed around, or told about the specials, or even asked if I need help by every single sales associate on the floor (that happens at Ulta and it drives me crazy). Maybe if I look like I’m struggling to find something, or need help, I appreciate more attention, but otherwise, I’m very happy to be left alone.
I have noticed at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus lately that all the sales associates have crossbody bags with phones in them, ostensibly for clienteling or looking items up online, but more often than not, I see them at the registers hunched over their phones, and it looks like they’re checking texts or Instagram or something. Of course I have no way to know what it is they’re doing, but I find it pretty off-putting in general.
1. I’ve had a lot of good customer service experiences, thankfully, though it’s hard to think of my favorite. I think the best was from this credit union I was using to finance a car loan – I had used them before and they were very helpful, but this time, the person setting up my loan really screwed it up, and then he went on vacation. I freaked out because the mistake was found after I was given the keys – basically the credit union had miscalculated something and thus owed the dealership several thousand dollars. I called the credit union up and they were extremely helpful in getting a new loan set up and straightening out the issue so my new car wouldn’t get repossesed! And the guy who messed up was very apologetic…I wasn’t mad at him, but I did have a very stressful couple of days. But it all worked out.
2. I worked in an indy coffee shop as a teenager, I worked at a renaissance faire (WORST JOB EVER), and I was an IT support tech for many years. The worst was the renfaire. Standing for 10 hours straight, barely any breaks, lots of health code violations, creepy coworkers and patrons…so awful. IT support was alright…I got where I am today because of it, and have made some great friends, but I don’t ever want to go back. I prefer being behind the scenes. 🙂
3. My horror story is when I had to cancel my Time Warner cable. Their customer retention specialist sounded like she was specifically instructed to be verbally abusive. She had a horrible attitude with me and berated me. At one point, she said something about how the internet doesn’t use bandwidth (uh…I work in IT, pretty sure that’s not true), and how I would come “crawling back to them” when I realized my mistake. And now ATT and TWC (or Spectrum, whatever) are merging so I guess she was right in the end!
4. I appreciate a friendly hello, maybe a mention of specials, and then left alone. Also if they don’t ever acknowledge me, that’s fine too. What I don’t like is being followed around, constantly checked on, or given a 20 minute spiel about special offers, or trying to upsell me. Basically any kind of hard selling tactics. I do utilize sales people, but if they are pushy in any way, it immediately turns me off.
1. It’s probably not the best CS experience ever, but a sales associate at the Austin Nordstrom in the Domain took the time to really help me last Christmas. I was trying to find a pair of full-length jeans and wanted to try on a pair of Eileen Fisher or any brand really, and she said they didn’t carry many jeans in-store. She brought me over to the counter and pulled up the website, and then showed me several different options that she thought I’d like. She was really patient and knowledgeable, and I went home and researched the pairs she had written down to successfully order from Nordstrom online.
2. When I was student teaching, I worked at Mervyn’s (remember that store?) in the children’s department. I started at Christmas and wasn’t trained on the register, so I worked in a group with a bunch of other new hires to go around straightening merchandise in the store. It was actually really fun, because we didn’t have to check people out, and we mostly chatted while we worked. We also took our lunch break together, so I got to know everyone really well. After Christmas, they asked me to stay on, so I trained on the register and worked during my student teaching semester. It was a good job, overall, and the hours were flexible. I was just exhausted from teaching all day and then going to work at night and on weekends. I was saving money to move from San Antonio to Austin after I completed my teaching semester.
3. I’m sure I have some, but nothing I can honestly remember. I do seem to find myself in a lot of situations where I have to explain to the CS people what happened, like an account mix-up or receiving the wrong merchandise, etc. I also just had to cancel my Sunday newspaper delivery because it literally never comes, LOL.
4. I don’t mind if they greet me and tell me about the sales when I first walk in, but I definitely don’t like to be followed around the store. I’ve been shopping with my kids and the saleslady will tell me about the sales. My boys are always like, “Do you know that lady?” Ha ha. But I also hate it when you need a dressing room or are ready to check out, and there’s nobody around anywhere.
1st things 1st – Slowre has awesome service. I am always amazed at how quickly you get the shipment out.
(1) One year I paid for expedited ship on a winter boot from Macys for a trip to Seattle. I was a little freaked out about being warm enough at an evening Huskies game (& dry). Found a boot online that I liked and ordered it about three weeks before my trip. They didn’t ship expedited and in fact shipped late. I emailed them about refunding the expedited shipping costs and to complain in general. The boot arrived the day after I left for my trip. They responded back quickly and not only did they refund my shipping costs, they refunded me for the entire purchase (>$200) and told me to keep the boots. I was shocked (in a good way), it was completely unexpected.
(2) I worked in college for a regional department store that eventually got bought out by Macy’s. I also have worked at a fiscal office reception desk at the student center. I enjoy working retail, it is a pleasure for me to help people find something that they like and help them shop. It is this quality that also originally fueled my blogging. I would say however that every job I have had has a customer service aspect. I have been a CPA, Controller and a CFO. For CPA we have clients for audit and tax. For Controller/CFO, my “customers” are internal. Once you take that mindset, it completely changes how you manage your relationship with the other departments in the company. Although we still are responsible for internal controls, etc, we are also there to provide timely and accurate information to all stakeholders, including other departments, so that they can do their jobs effectively.
(3) About 10 years ago, my ex-husband and I were not served at the Coppola Winery tasting room in Napa. It was obvious to both of us that it was racially motivated. He is full Chinese and dark skinned, I am half Okinawan/half white. We could both pass for Hispanic quite easily as well. We bought our all day pass and went into the tasting room. Servers were rolling their eyes and one even looked at us up and down with a disgusted expression on her face when I said excuse me. Then, another couple came in, stood next to us and she served them immediately. We walked out, got our money back and when we got back home I wrote an email to the winery. They did respond back with an apology, mentioned they had just had their diversity training the week before (which I found interesting, it was a known issue) and also an offer for a private tasting on our next visit to Napa. I do hope they have made changes since that incident but we never returned.
(4) I like to be greeted and then left alone. A quick intro and how can I help you is fine but I don’t like when they hover or randomly comment as I browse. I don’t like to have to make a big effort to get help when I need it or to get into the dressing room (pet peeve! hate when you have to go back to the front of the store to be let in). I also don’t like limits on the # of items in the dressing room.
1. I have had plenty of good CS experiences, but none really stand out that I can easily recall. I’ve had probably more bad CS experiences than good, especially in the food service industry.
2. I’ve worked in CS a lot in various businesses. Because of that, I do have rather high expectations because I know I give it my all because IT’S MY JOB, so when I see people in a CS role acting like the customer is beneath them I want to reach over the counter and punch them and yell them to go get another job. Having so much CS experience landed me the position I am in now with my current company. My title is Customer Liaison, which is a fancy-pants term for CS. However, my work is not in retail so my CS work is more geared towards creating a long-lasting relationship with the client and by extension their teams. In fact, I’m off on a business trip to face-time and schmooze tomorrow! In general, if one is pleasant working CS the response you get is literally 50/50. Some people may be in a good mood and respond to your kindness in turn and others may give you the **** off look/demeanor simply because that is THEM and there is nothing you can do to change that.
3. When I first moved to NJ after having lived in OK for most of my life I was a cashier at a pharmacy and asked someone if they would like a bag for their items. The person took great offense and yelled at me: “I’d like a SACK, not a BAG!” He was very aggressive and mean about it as if I’d somehow personally insulted him. I simply wasn’t used to the east coast colloquialisms and terms yet. After that I’ve never said “bag” again because the experience shell-shocked me that people could be so upset about something so trivial. I also kinda figured that’s how east coast people operated after that and since then… it’s not been that far off from the truth. On the flip side of that I had a lady who had been waiting for her prescription for a long time (the store was mega busy) tell me that I was really sweet and always nice to everyone and that impressed her. She then contacted the district manager for the pharmacy and I ended up getting a pin and letter of praise from corporate for being a good employee.
4. I don’t mind being greeted and told what the sales are for the day. Other than that, please leave me alone. I prefer greeters at the door to do this sort of thing than be asked if I’m being helped by all ten employees in the shop (especially when it looks like I am literally the only customer). If I’m looking at an item and contemplating it I definitely will ask if I need help or want info. I don’t like feeling like I’m being stalked by the staff and dislike it when every single item I pick up is being commented upon by a sales stalker.
Grechen Reiter says
that’s so true how much everything depends on the mood of the person you’re dealing with. most of the time it has nothing to do with you…
it still sucks though, when you’re on the receiving end.
and omg same on the sales stalkers. like i said, that happens to me constantly at ulta.
Grechen Reiter says
oh, yeah, that’s my biggest problem at nordstrom – finding someone to let me into the dressing room. i really think their sales associates leave a lot to be desired. it used to be so much better…now i’m literally ignored until i walk up to the register area.
that’s frustrating about the winery. nothing like that has ever happened to us, but we do always complain whenever we feel like we’ve received less than excellent cs most places. i think it’s important to bring issues like that to someone’s attention.
Grechen Reiter says
i remember mervyn’s!!!
after just saying i have horrible cs at nordstrom – with sales associates anyway – it’s nice to hear that you had a good experience, especially since they don’t have a large selection in the store. i left before that nordstrom opened, so i had to shop at the one at barton creek mall and it was not great, let me just say haha…
Grechen Reiter says
omg renfaire…i sort of loved going, but can’t imagine working there unless you’re all gung-ho, and even then…haha…
ugh. cable/internet. we have spectrum now and it’s better than what we had before, but still. i think they’re all bad. and there’s no incentive for them to do better.
I sold tickets behind a window at a major arts center. One slow night ( it was a symphony) I had my textbook propped up discreetly so customers could not see it, but I was cramming for an exam while I worked. There was always a poor , small but clean shaven little man lurking in the lobby, and after the initial rush was over, he shyly crept up to the window and asked if there was any turned in donated tickets…….I felt something in me reach for a seat in the back, (he was so shy and raggedy- he would never sit up front) and told him go on in. From then on we were fast friends. He got to enjoy a full season of the symphony on the house!!! (he lived nearby in a little hovel and taught violin lessons) One day, a year later, a woman approached and asked me if I was the one taking care of her dad. She told me he had passed away and handed me a box telling me he wanted me to have it. It was a beautiful antique rosary from Greece and it was his from his childhood. The woman and I had a tearful visit, she was so sweet but I wondered where were you when your dad was shivering in the cold?? Anyway, it pretty much changed me for the good and wherever you are, Mr Epi, thank you!!!
Grechen Reiter says
what a beautiful story!!!
small things make such a big difference. thank you for sharing that.
Countess Isadora says
1. One that sticks out in my mind… I ordered a custom mailbox from a kickstarter (why I can’t just buy a normal mailbox is a whole other thing) when I put it outdoors after about a month I noticed rusting around the bottom. I emailed the company just to ask if they knew of a product I could put on the mailbox to keep rusting at a minimum, I figured I live a mile from the ocean and that environment is rough on everything, I was just looking for ideas. The company said they had had all kinds of problems with that, had fixed the paint formula and could they just send me a new mailbox. Excellent Customer Service!
2. I also have worked at Starbucks, as a partner, shift supervisor, and an assistant manager and I remember the “just say yes” policy! It was great to have all that freedom to make you customers happy, but I remember some days smiling on the outside but plotting murder on the inside due to customers who were unbelievably difficult. On the opposite end of the spectrum, working in the meat industry there was very little to no customer service at all. My customers, and suppliers were constantly trying to rip each other off anyway they could…lying, stealing, situation manipulation, all kinds of skimps, skamps, and scallywags, it is the only business I have been in where you could tell someone they were full of shit and to go fuck themselves and they would call you again a couple days later for more product, I learned how to weave obscenities like a tapestry from that job. You had to be that way or else you were constantly being taken advantage of, and I was one of the only females in the industry at the time so I had to be ever more vigilant with the situations, tougher because my gender was looked on as a liability to some.
3. A horror story: Audi lost a key to my car, blamed the loss on me, the keychain, and then a random tow truck driver. They wanted me to pay the $$$ to have a new one made, ordered and overnighted from Germany. I had to call Audi head office to get it resolved. In fact the dealership here has pages of customer service nightmares from the service department. In the end we went with a different brand of vehicle when we had to replace a car because the service department was so horrid.
4. I like to be acknowledged and then left alone. I really hate it when they wait for you outside the dressing room and gush over something you know you look like shit in. Or that your visible uncomfortable in…
Countess Isadora says
That is such a beautiful and inspiring story, thank you for sharing. It warms my heart 🙂