A short time ago a did a piece on some of the bad customer service I had been unlucky enough to experience.
It still gets good traffic so I thought I’d look at the flip side. If you don’t like this as much I’ll know you’re just a bad news bear.
Good customer service is part of the A,B,C of best business practice but is rarely ever seen. I’m talking about the special touches, the extra mile, the genuine smile.
It’s so easy to do it badly. I remember one occasion when I was in a country house hotel with my husband. It was the type of place that had set out to give its customers a very ‘special’ experience.
We were ushered into the drawing-room for cocktails and were presented with a large platter of canapes. As we looked at each other thinking wow this is great how many can we swipe, the hostess,all decked out in tweeds, looked snootily at us and said crisply, “Three each.”
We immediately felt like naughty school children. If you are going to set out to give your guests an authentic country house experience you can’t start counting beans like that, at least not in front of them. For us it revealed the entire set-up for what it was, a sham.
It’s so easy it is to find the bad even when something supposedly has good customer service built-in.
One good experience I can point to was at the hands of the clothes giant New Look.
At Christmas my husband put my daughter’s much-loved new shirt in the wash. It went in grey and came out pink. After the tears had subsided he set about finding a replacement. I didn’t have high hopes as the serial number had been bleached out and the shirt had been purchased some weeks before.
But never write off a store’s customer service credentials until you have tried them. A very helpful girl in the Kingston branch spent a long time looking up the code number for the shirt and then rang round all the branches in the South East looking for a replacement.
When that failed she helped us to order it via their on-line service. It was an extra mile, walked by a girl already busy with the post-Christmas sales. I was and still am impressed.
Stores which have a policy of trying to be helpful get a deserved reputation for making the effort. Waitrose staff will always take you to the product you are looking for because it’s company policy. It’s not a question of finding a member of staff and hoping they’re having a good day.
Places that treat everyone equally always score high with me as well. Some restaurants thrive on exclusivity and making ordinary folk feel like oiks but the places with true class treat everyone with the same first-rate courtesy, the London restaurant Bibendum springs to mind.
It is much harder than it ought to be to find examples of great customer service. People spending a lot of money and repeat customers might find themselves getting more of it. There are couple of good case studies here – it’s a blog about ‘Outrageously good customer service’ from the Freakonomics guys.
But lets hear it for the businesses giving good customer service as a matter of course; to everyone.
If you know any, leave a comment here, tell us about them !