Being someone who likes to look after others and in a career environment is keen to make sure the customer is always kept happy, I find I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to good customer service. For over 7 years I've worked in customer service/client support and even when I did temp work or worked as a Saturday girl in various retail environments I did my best to make sure the customer was cared for.
Anyways as you can probably tell I have been a bit grumpy this week since after having my flu jab I got hit with some sort of cold/flu bug and have felt awful since, just when I think I'm improving I start to feel weak/unwell again. I had quite a quiet weekend planned, although last night I was due to attend a friend's party at a new-ish venue where I live, something I've really been looking forward to - but oh no, although I've felt like a lump of you know what all week that's not good enough. Oh no I had to get sore, itchy eyes too and feel weak and full of germs yesterday too and ended up not being able to go the party. I was not a happy bunny. As a result things that might normally annoy me anyway (I am a bit short tempered in my personal life) have really wound me up this weekend. So I thought I'd share the rant and also use it to show, in my opinion, how important good customer service is and how even just one good individual can make a real difference.
So as the weather is getting colder now, the nights are getting darker and we've turned our clocks back, I decided it is about time I purchased a new winter coat and hoped to get some new boots too (since although I do have a few I admit most of them are a bit worn down and having some sort of hole in, not great when it rains or snows as you can imagine).
One of the key places I've decided to look and been trying to buy something in, is Dorothy Perkins. Just a typical high street store, nothing too fancy, as people close to me know I am a bit of a bargain hunter and have never really gone for the whole designer wardrobe approach. A big reason I thought of Dorothy Perkins first was that I had two vouchers (worth £25 in total) to spend in there left over from my birthday back in August. Now I don't know if you find this, but whenever I get vouchers a shop it seems to put an instant curse on me and I can't find anything I like or in my size in that shop as a result. Hence why I still have £25 worth of vouchers burning a hole in my purse over two months later.
Off we went, my poor boyfriend my shopping partner, to go in search of a winter coat (I heard Debenhams had a winter coat and boot special sale on) armed with my vouchers, my wheezy chest and snotty nose. I spent a horrendous amount of time trying to find a coat and I think the conclusion was I am one fussy madam. I tried all colours, shapes, sizes and styles on and I just couldn't get happy. Eventually I discovered a coat, which I ended up purchasing, which my man loved and said straightaway how well it fit me and what a great shape it gave me. I won't say exactly what he's been saying, but let's just say he feels his masculinity and sexuality have been well and truly questioned this weekend! He even found himself giving me fashion tips and using the term 'cute' to describe items of clothing in the shops (something I am guilty of doing on a regular basis).
I also had to deal with the trauma of realising the Matthew Williamson 'amazing', life-stopping jumpsuit I'd seen a long time ago (but not tried on), which was so beautiful in black with ruffles round the chest and patterned in white butterflies, was actually awful on. The legs did not gather in at the bottom and the size I tried on was too big too, it didn't do me any favours. I did however gain comfort that although I couldn't treat myself to a lovely outfit for my holidays, I could save myself £50 by not actually liking the ensemble when on.
Anyway, back to topic. Dorothy Perkins. We went in there, I double checked I didn't like the coats and then attempted to brave the shoe section. Unless you're a girl like me with clown-esque feet and giraffe-like height, then you won't understand what a nightmare shoe shopping is for me. I love shoes, boots, sandals, pumps, the lot. However, being 5ft11 and having size 8 feet it is painful. The heels are either too high so I feel like the Jolly Green Giant, or the shoes don't come in my size or feel too tight. I end up feeling like some sort of circus freak half the time I try go shop for footwear.
After perusing the relatively vast collection of boots on offer, I picked a selection of three out. Lo and behold they only had one of them in my size (well, what else did you expect flipper feeet??) Over the shop assistant comes with my flat, off-black, ruched, slouch boots met with my smiling face, so pleased they at least have one pair in my size. On goes the right foot and my heel just won't fit into the back of the boot. Surely my feet haven't got bigger? I start to panic. I slip on the left boot easily and it feels comfortable, loose even. Eventually with a bit of persuasion the right boot goes on, I must admit I felt relief I hadn't ripped the back of the material on achieving this. I um and ah and decide I will take them but mention first to the assistant how tight the right foot feels.
What do we find after a few minutes of back and forth? Oh the right boot is labelled wrongly. It turns out the right boot is a size 7, after a few visits to the stockroom and then going to get her manager I get told that sorry they don't have a left and a right size 8. They've been labelled wrong, 'it happens quite a lot, you wouldn't believe'. Ah great, so there goes my potential shoe purchase out the window. They offer to call another store, but I am fed up and a bit shocked they don't check things like this before items are taken out to the shop floor?
Next stop after me whinging quite a bit, was Debenhams and their 'shoe boutique'. I went through the whole section and the concessions (including Dorothy Perkins offering) and found nothing. Oh and Dorothy Perkins failed to impress again, after I had to go to three different people to even get someone who could check out back if they had a pair of boots I had picked out in my size or not. They didn't and the girl recommended 'try online'. Try online, yes where I have to pay delivery charge and arrange to be there to collect them? Try online where you don't actually accept your own gift vouchers? Try online where you tell me there are no size 8s in stock anyway in my area or nearby? Thanks, great advice.
In the end we went home armed with a nice black winter coat from Debenhams (Ben de Lisi for Principles, very nicely designed and in the sale at £75 so I was pleased) and my other purchase of yet another coat - a high street offering, well kind of - from a 'stall' in Romford which I am still not 100% sure if their stock is 'off the back of a lorry' if you catch my drift. I won't go into more details...
Today we had more success and this is where my emphasis on good customer service pops up - I'm sure you were wondering when it was actually going to appear as there's been no evidence so far. We went to Lakeside - in true Essex style - and I headed straight for Dorothy Perkins, just in case they had the boots... We get to the back of the shop and there they sit the boots I like - I also see a dark brown pair. Oh no sorry, not in your size. BUT they do have the off-black pair I wanted and in size 8 - funny that I mutter online it says they are all out of stock. 'Oh never believe what it says online' mentions one of the shop assistants. Oh right, great service then, what exactly is the point of an online store checker if it's not actually true? If I hadn't of tried the shop on the off chance today they would have easily lost a sale. It's madness.
So relieved to have the boots finally in my grip I go to the till armed with my £25 gift vouchers and a 20% off coupon Dorothy Perkins themselves sent me for if I pay on my storecard (something I haven't used for a long time and only planned to as I got sent these coupons). The girl at the till tells me that store policy is I have to pay for it on my card to the use the 20% off coupon. Yes, I am going to, I explain. No, no I misunderstand, I can't use their store giftvouchers even just as part payment and pay the rest on my card. I have to pay the full amount on my card just to get 20% off. By this point I was really getting rather anti-Dorothy Perkins to be honest with you, clearly picking up on this thought, the girl who served me quickly hunted in the checkout drawers and pulled out a 25% off vouchers 'as you're a storecard holder'. She handed me back my 20% voucher (which I couldn't use) and then proceeded to give me 25% off and then take off my £25 giftcards... The boots were £56 and were already on promotion at £50, she then took 25% off and then the £25. I got a pair of £56 boots for £12.50. So I couldn't use the legitimate vouchers, but I could use this makeshift option? I pulled out my storecard saying 'oh so I have to pay on this thought right?' No, the girl assures me pay how you like.
Now, this whole transaction makes zero sense to me I admit. But do you know what? That girl changed my mood. By being flexible and picking up on my mood/the experience I'd had already, she turned me around and made me a happy customer.
So the moral of this story? I am a moody madam right now and super fussy when shopping and if I can't get my bargain or have a bad shoe experience I get angry. The main point though? By understanding your customer and a company having even just one star in the team who really is committed to giving a good experience - whether it be shopping, a corporate website or a beauty treatment - you can feel confident of good customer support and offering a worthwhile service and your clients will recognise this and appreciate it. Also, not all customers just comment on bad experiences. I may well put some people off with my details of earlier exploits, but the end result shows a much more positive side and a reason to give the store a chance and perhaps may even encourage sales rather than detract.
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