Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Strangely Enough, That's NOT Good Customer Service (A Tale of Holiday Shopping)

I usually like shopping at a certain store in Burlington Mall whose name I won't mention, but it's a kitchen store with a hyphenated name and one of the names is a valley in California. Although their prices can be a little silly, it can be a fun place to shop. Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when The Boy and I found something he wanted to get his dad for Xmas--on sale, even.

A sales clerk offered to check the backroom and see if they had any in stock (it was from a display; the actual items are kept in storage). We waited quite a while--apparently on the way back from the storeroom the clerk stopped to ring up a few sales at the register before making it those extra 30 feet to me and The Boy. Okay, that was slightly annoying--we waited close to 10 minutes, and I realized after seeing her at the cashier's desk that we weren't at the top of her list--but they were busy and maybe someone needed her to ring up a sale.

Then, she tells me, Sorry--we're out of what you're looking for. Would we like to buy the sample on the shelf? Sure, fine, great--until it turns out that the item on the shelf tag I'd given her to find wasn't in the right place. The sample she wanted to sell me was a different item--bigger and nearly three times as expensive. Okay, disappointing, but not a deal killer. Stuff happens--busy holiday season.

Then, she told me that I could go get the item from the Chestnut Hill store. When I explained that that wasn't an option for a full-time working mom who lives nowhere near Chestnut Hill, she seemed surprised that I wasn't willing to drop everything to go there. "Why don't you want to go there?" Um, because I don't? Annoying again, but I'm a patient, understanding person. It's the holidays, people are stressed, maybe even undertrained.

If she had just left it at that and let us leave the store, I'd have already forgotten the incident. But instead of just letting me say "Thanks for looking--I appreciate that you checked in the back," (which I did) she had to earnestly buttonhole me with, "Now, I just want to make sure that you understand that I provided you with good customer service. When I found out we didn't have what you want, I told you that you can get it at Chestnut Hill. But it's your choice not to go there. So just to be clear: I provided you with choices and good customer service, but you're not going to follow up. Okay? Great! Thanks for coming in!"

At that point, my son was very stressed at being so close to getting a nice present for his dad but being disappointed instead that I knew it was time to get out of there. And I don't like to generate conflict, especially around the winter holidays. But what I really wanted to say was:

"NO, THAT'S NOT GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE! Good customer service means you offer to bring the item over from the other store so I can pick it up here. Good customer service means you check in the storeroom and don't stop on the way back to ring up other customers, making me wait an extra 10 minutes. Good customer service does not mean doing some corporate-speak 'let's be sure we're all on the same page' bull at the end of the transaction when I'm clearly unhappy and a simple 'I'm sorry I can't help you' would have been much more appropriate."

We ended up going downstairs and finding a nearly identical item at Crate and Barrel. Fast, efficient, friendly. And no speech about whether or not they'd provided me with good customer service when they hadn't.

And that's good customer service.


Blogger Alyssa said...

Wow - that is just, bizarre. On the bright side at least she didn't shrug and point to the paint department.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

LOL! True, true. Especially because that store doesn't have a paint department, so it would have been a particular kick in the teeth. :-)

4:41 AM  

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