I had rather a surreal experience the other day, perhaps surreal isn't the correct word but not sure what is.
I was in the process of returning a pair of pumps I'd bought for my daughter from a well known store. She had hardly worn them and within a fortnight of buying them one had started to fall apart (the shoe not me I hasten to add). Anyway, there I am at the customer service desk explaining the situation to a shop assistant. All I wanted to do was exchange the faulty shoes for another pair exactly the same - but her response rather took me by surprise.
"It will just happen again with the new ones," she said as she examined the returned pair. What kind of answer was that?
Obviously I countered with "it shouldn't happen again and if it does I'll bring them back again", which seemed to offend her and she then went very silent on me.
There's something wrong when an employee of a store basically says its goods are rubbish and I'm sure it's not the message the store wants to put out there. I also had the feeling this particular shop assistant thought I was a pain for returning the pumps and that I was overreacting. Eh?
Customer service is a massive term and important in so many ways for store and customer. Get it wrong and the store risks losing clients and cash; get it right and chances are shoppers will return again and again. Given the current economic situation this is a crucial and basic lesson you'd think retail would already have learned, but in this case it seems not.
I still remember standing in a high street shop in London in 1990, waiting to pay for something while two assistants chatted in front of me; they knew I was there but didn't help until they had finished their conversation at least five minutes later. Does the fact I remember this so clearly mean I'm a bit sad or does it demonstrate the power of bad customer service?