Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Thursdays Thing I Hate: Bad Customer Service and Rubbish Staff!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Thursdays Thing I Hate: Bad Customer Service and Rubbish Staff!

Yesterday Jon, Tyne & I decided to go for a family day out to nearby Exeter - a city we used to live in before Tyne was born, which we haven't visited for a while.
 
While we were there, we decided to get spending some of the vouchers Tyne got for his Christening and so we hit the shops!
 
What struck me on our day out was just how much the attitudes of store staff can sway your opinion of that store and your willingness to give them your custom.
 
As I have stated on my blog before, before having Tyne I have worked largely in customer service related roles.
 
I worked on the customer service desk at Primark for a few years - dealing with returned and faulty items.
I worked on a checkout in a busy supermarket.
 
And I worked firstly as an agent and then as a supervisor for New Look's online customer services department.
 
So I have dealt with customers in both a face-to-face role and over the phone, and I understand how difficult the job can be at times as some customers seem to be determined to make life difficult for staff.
 
I understand that the job can be difficult, and nobody can smile 100% of the time.
 
But if you choose to work in this environment, it is your job to provide a friendly and welcoming service.
 
You are a representative of the company you work for and it is your responsibility to smile, be polite, be friendly, and remember that the customer is always right.
 
Poor customer service is one of my biggest bug bears in life, and I hate the way that we just accept it in this country.
 
Well I for one am becoming pretty sick of having snarky staff members ruining my shopping experience because they've had a bad day or don't want to be there - I'm sorry but that is just not my problem!
 If you're in work, take pride in your job and do it well - or else don't do it at all.
 
On yesterdays shopping trip I experienced both ends of the customer service scale, and it really made me realise just how important it is and how a little gesture can go such a long way toward making a customer want to give a business their custom in the future.
 
The Bad Experiences
 
Mothercare
 
Mothercare was my first port of call on the shopping trip, as I specifically wanted to buy a bath seat for Tyne and I knew they had some particular items of clothing that I wanted to get.
 
I also knew that Tyne needed his nappy changing and I had heard a lot of good things mentioned about Mothercare's baby facilities, so I decided we'd head there first so I could be sure I could change Tyne in a pleasant and clean environment.
 
We went into the baby change/toilet and I was disgusted.
 
It was FILTHY and it absolutely reeked of poo! I know that this may not be able to helped if somebody has used the facility and left a smell behind, but I think the more likely reason was the over-flowing nappy disposal bin!
 
The floor was covered in water, the toilet was unflushed, and everywhere looked very in keeping with the overpowering stench!
 
I wish I could have turned around and walked back out, but Tyne NEEDED to be changed so I used our own changing mat, made sure he didn't touch anything and tried very hard not to touch anything myself - did the job and got out of there quickly!!
 
Upon leaving I was very glad to see a hygiene hand gel dispenser outside to make me feel clean again - but alas, it was empty!
 
I used my own hand gel, and we shook the experience off and got on with shopping - I browsed for a while trying to find the bath seats (With members of staff milling around, but nobody once offering any assistance.)
 
Eventually I gave up and moved on to the clothes, picked out what I wanted and headed to the tills - there were two tills at opposite ends of the stores but the staff members I had seen earlier had all disappeared.
There was not a soul on the shop floor.
 
I picked a till, stood and waited.....and waited....and waited.
 
Eventually a member of staff appeared from one of the back rooms and came over.
 
She started scanning the clothes through - no apology for my wait or anything like that.
 
I asked her about the bath seats, her reply was "We've got those" and nodded towards the bath supports - I said that wasn't what I was looking for and described the bath seat I wanted - she responded with "Oh those, no we don't sell them. They're too young for them anyway, they've got to be 6 months".
 
I have no idea what she was talking about, as my pram was facing away from her so she couldn't see how old Tyne was and by "they're too young" I can only assume she meant ALL the worlds babies were too young for them?!?
 
Odd.
 
I left with the clothes I'd purchased, feeling mystified, dirty from the facilities and not very valued as a customer - not a good experience.
 
River Island
 
 
A few weeks ago, I purchased a lovely top from River Island.
 
I have only worn it once, and when I came to wear it a few days ago I noticed that there is a rather large hole in it.
 
If I'd worn it more often I'd let it go, but considering I've only had one wear out of it I wasn't happy - so I decided to take it back.
I searched high and low for the receipt but couldn't find it, but I knew that I would still be entitled to a refund at the current selling value as the item is faulty - and given that it was purchased recently I hoped it wouldn't have been reduced too much.
 
I took it back to River Island in Exeter today, and presented it to the staff member and explained the problem.
 
The VERY miserable looking woman took the item, inspected the fault and said (without an apology for the fault, the inconvenience or any sympathy whatsoever for the fact that I'd just told her I was gutted as I love the top) that I could have an exchange or credit note for the current selling price.
 
I asked if there were any more in stock as I really liked the top. She said no, that store had never had those in.  I asked if she could check at the store I had originally bought it from. 
 
She replied "No, we don't have a stock checker".
 
I, having had enough of her miserable attitude by this time, asked if she had a telephone. She replied yes, so I asked if she'd mind using it to call the other store and ask them.
 
Clearly this was an unheard of suggestion and a massive inconvenience to her from all the eye rolling and huffing and puffing she did, but she called the store to check and they had none left.
 
She told me that my option was a credit note or exchange. Actually, from my experience in customer service I believe she is wrong - if the goods are faulty, I am pretty sure that I should be entitled to a cash refund of the current selling value.
 
I asked what the current selling price was, and she told me it was £12.
 
Considering I paid over £20 for the top only a few weeks ago and have had only one wear before a hole appeared - I am NOT happy that my only option is to accept £12 of store credit or an exchange.
 
I decided to keep the top and take the matter up with head office, as I would at the very least prefer to have that £12 back in cash so that I can buy a more durable item of clothing from another store - and I would also like to express my dissatisfaction with the attitude of their staff.
 
A simple "Oh I'm sorry to hear that" when I showed her the damage would have gone a long way.
 
 
The Good Experiences
 
I don't want to dwell on the bad experiences as there were two really great customer service experiences too, and its nice to know that SOME retailers can still be trusted to do it right!
 
Next
 
I went in to Next in Princesshay to have a browse at the clothes for Tyne's autumn wardrobe, and as always was thrilled with their collection! I was spoilt for choice!
 
Jon showed me a gorgeous little shirt-vest and trouser set which I instantly loved, but they only had a couple left and both were in Newborn and Tiny Baby - we asked the assistant, who looked very busy!, if they had any more out the back.
 
I honestly expected the usual "Only whats out" brush off, but to my surprise she happily went off to check. She came back moments later and said they didn't have any, apologised for this and offered to order them in by tomorrow!
 
We thanked her but said we don't live in Exeter - she asked where we lived and said she could order them in to our local store, no problem and informed us that the service is free.
 
We were really pleased and took her up on the offer.
 
We also picked out some more clothes and purchased them - while she was serving us with those she was chatting away to us, talking to Tyne, and telling me all about their online service and gave me a voucher code to use giving me discount off my first order.
 
She could not have been more friendly and helpful! She was the perfect example of what every store assistant should be!
 
Michael Caine's Café Bar
 
We stopped off for a drink and a cake at Michael Caine's café bar on the cathedral green, we sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed a lovely relaxing little refreshment.
The cakes were delicious, and our waiter was very friendly and accommodating.
 
As the waiter was clearing away out plates, he saw Tyne's dummy on the table - without any prompting at all, he asked if we would like him to sterilise it!
 
We didn't need him to as we had our own sterilising fluid with us, but the fact that he offered without being asked really surprised me and we were both struck by what a great service this is for parents with young babies.
 
I actually hadn't expected a rather high-end café bar like Michael Caine's to be so welcoming to children, and I was really pleasantly surprised!
 
So there you have it - experiences which have made me want to use Michael Caines and Next again in the future, and experiences which have made me want to avoid River Island and Mothercare like the plague!
 
I will be sending this post to all of the companies mentioned, and will be intrigued to see what they each have to say about the services that we received.
 
Have you had any particularly good or bad customer services experiences? As always, I'd love to hear from you! 
 
 

 
 
 


16 comments:

  1. What a great reminder to us as business owners to always keep an eye on our customer service! It really does go a long way.

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  2. Very interested to hear what Mothercare have to say on the subject, that changing area sounds revolting! Glad it didn't spoil your day though!

    Kate x
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

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  3. I don't think ive ever received good customer service from River Island, the staff are all grumpy in ours. Its one of my bugbears that staff in shops hate using the phone to check in other stores.

    That was excellent from Michael Caine's, that about going above and beyond. Be interested in the replies you get from the companies concerned.

    Wendy x

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  4. I couldn't agree more about the Mothercare baby changing facilities - they've been dirty and smelly every time I've had to use them! However, I have experienced some lovely staff and good service there so it sounds like an off day...

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  5. I would not be happy with Mothercare either, I would have mentioned it, what an awful experience. As for River Island, one of the reasons I wont shop there is because of bad manners x

    Lots of Love Beautyqueenuk xx

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  6. Years ago I was shopping in Mothercare & had to change my youngest in their filthy, smelly disgusting baby facilities....Seems nothing had changed with them in about 5 years....

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  7. The Mothercare story is awful!!! What a horrible store. Our local one is really nice, the staff are always polite. Never used their changing facilities though.

    River Island. Everytime I have been in there, the staff have been rude. It doesn't hurt - even if your in the worst mood!! - to smile at the customers!! Grrr makes me angry.

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  8. Great post, poor service is a pet hate of mine. I hate it when there is no acknowledgement or they carry on another conversation with someone else. I always think why I am saying please, thank you and giving money! Vicky x

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  9. You're so right, bad customer service really puts me off buying things from shops, it doesn't take much to be polite does it xx

    Emma
    Handbags To Change Bags - Mummy & Lifestyle Blog

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  10. It really makes me sad as there are peeps that really appreciate a retailposition.

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  11. I went into the mothercare by me on Tuesday also looking for a bath seat, the only one they had was £30! I couldn't believe it, really thought they would have more choice for an item like that!

    Bad customer service is such a big no no in this day and age, with people desperate for a job and can't even get an interview, companies need to do better in training their staff! manners in general cost nothing.

    Glad you had a couple of good experiences at least. I always find next fantastic regarding customer service, they want you to spend spend spend!

    Louise xx

    http://loulouandtheboyinblue.blogspot.co.uk/

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  12. You are completely right. Bad customer service will put me off of a store. I've always had really good customer service in our local Mothercare store. I guess I'm lucky. x

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  13. I'm too looking for a bath seat. Boots were a bit narky with me when I enquired as to what age you could use theirs up to as they looked fairly small. I was told 'It's 0+' Oh really? I couldn't have seen that for myself on the packaging then?!

    Boohoo were terrible and took over 11 months to refund me for 2 items I sent back. They said they'd never received them, but I'd sent 3 items back in one package and they'd already refunded me for one of them so I know they had!

    And when I was discussing cot quilts in Mothercare with Nathan and went 'they're not called cot quilts thought they're called something else' - the rude assistant interrupted with 'Do NOT buy a cot quilt, a new born baby needs a coverlet.'
    1. Did I ask you? And 2. Why are you looking at me like I need reporting to social services?

    Some people have no iea about good customer service really!

    Lou xxx

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

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  14. I also worked in retail and went out of my way to help the customer. My job was more than restocking, it was helping the customer find their products and if they weren't available, to suggest alternatives. Yes it may mean searching out the back for that box at the bottom of a cage, but happy customers come back!

    Now? I avoid shopping like the plague. Shops seem to go one way or another - there are no assistants and you have to use self-service tills that always need authorising but is noone around to help or the assistants pounce on you as soon as you enter the store and won't leave you alone to look! Where is the happy medium?

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  15. Mothercare are terrible!! Not just the customer service but in our local store they never have anything in stock, I couldn't get a mattress or car seat base in there. So used kiddicare on line and they were great!! Ordered on a Sunday and came Monday!

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  16. Such opposite ends of the scale! I had a NIGHTMARE with Next (online customer services over the phone, if that makes sense?) and our wedding gift list. Absolutely horrific from beginning to end, and I know 3 other people who had the same. They gave us a very generous compensation package, but nothing makes up for the poor service we were given in the first place. Glad to know they have some competent staff in there!! x

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