Thursday, May 21, 2015

Customer satisfaction

I know it's been ages since I've posted.  I always think about manners, etiquette, and great ideas for posts, but with a full time job as a wife and mama, another full time job, and all the other that stuff life brings, I just don't prioritize the blog like I should.  Just know that I think about The Pink Teapot and you often.  I also host a lot of etiquette dinners for youth which takes up some significant time.

What brings me to actually typing this morning is an experience I had yesterday combined with one I had this past weekend.  They were reminiscent of so many that I've had and I figured that since this happens to me so frequently, it must happen to others as well.  Let's see, shall we?

I was in a retail clothing store yesterday (one of my favorites) and I needed to return a pair of pants and a top.  I had spent a significant amount when making my original purchase, but I don't think that should matter; but I have found that sometimes retailers will treat me kindly when they know I'm a good customer (as in I will spend money).  I asked the sales rep to look up my purchase.  The details are tedious and unimportant, but I was treated like she was doing me a favor by giving me store credit (their policy by the way).  She was condescending in her tone and spoke slowly so that I'd make sure to understand her.  Even after verifying that I was, in fact, following "return procedure", she was annoyed that she had to look up my purchase and went as far as to say, "when you come in and just want to return something and you don't know how you paid for it or when you bought it..."  I was taken aback (I did know how I purchased it- it was a store card that I had already given her; I also knew the date), I smiled, I thanked her (she did give me store credit with which to purchase even more stuff) and I proceeded to spend said credit (and a little more).  I felt like I didn't want to be in that store any longer.  I love the clothes, they fit me well, but the energy was so negative (I braved through it for a couple of pairs of shoes and a top).

This past weekend, I was in search for the perfect woman's bag.  I needed something that I felt I could use every day for my computer and as a personal handbag (a zip top) and by the way, unless it's a diaper bag, this seems to be very difficult to find.  This would be my every day bag (I have a collection of bags, but I needed a trusty uniform-bag-briefcase).  I went into a store where I've purchased many handbags and I was greeted.  The sales rep asked me if I knew what I was looking for and I indicated that I did and explained what I wanted.  I went right to the bag I thought was going to work.  I explained what I was looking for and even gave preferences for color and she gave me *one* option.  I saw one bag on a shelf that seemed to meet my needs, I walked over to it, and she said, "well that one is on sale, I guess if you want one that's on sale..." (um...who doesn't want a sale...seriously?).  It turned out that after looking at 5 or 6 bags in that store, she simply said, "There's nothing that would work for you in here".  Now I'm a fan of honesty, but turning away business?  Maybe not.  I felt like she could have directed me online, asked some questions, anything.  There were probably 100 bags in that store.  You're telling me we couldn't have found one that worked?

Here's the thing that got me:  She acted the entire time like she was doing *me* a favor.  That's the same experience I had yesterday at the clothing store.  The entitlement that some of these people seem to have just blows my mind.  I'm not of the school that a sales rep should be treated poorly, and I don't think the customer is always right; but I do think it's a customer service reps' (sales reps) job to make the shopping experience a pleasant one and perhaps even go so far as to make the customer feel like you're happy they're there to shop.  What a thought!

We need to be considerate as consumers, and I've talked a lot about that, but it's difficult to be considerate and kind when the person who is helping you is rude, entitled, snotty, and vapid.  Thank goodness for lots of choices in where we shop, although isn't it the worst when your favorite stores  are the ones that you dread entering because of poor customer service?

I think the US retail clothing industry has become far too complacent in training employees to be good customer service representatives.  I also think that the generation that is currently in the work force (vague, I know) largely feels entitled, empowered (not in a positive way), they seem to have a superiority complex.

I plead with employers, please interview carefully.  Please ask how someone would handle a difficult customer, and then follow through with proper training and appropriate consequences/rewards for performance.

It seems to me that retailers largely just don't care.  I'm not sure why since the US apparel industry is a 331 *billion* dollar per year industry!

I think we've largely gone online (and quite frankly if I could have exchanged the clothes and looked at the specks of the handbag online I would have), it's become common place to spend time and energy there as retailers.  I personally think that's no excuse to let customer service slide.

My two (or five) cents.

PS  Thanks Coach for having the perfect women's work bag.  Not a diaper bag (nothing wrong with them, I'm just out of that stage), but a working, zip top, well priced bag!  Thank you also for being so polite, friendly, and professional; and no, I didn't get a bag for free, I just feel like it's nice to point out the positive!

1 comment:

O_o said...

Absolutely correct, on all accounts. I have thought all of the same as a retail employee (if ever you want stories, I've got 'em).