Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Answer to Bad Customer Service

In following up to my original post called "Such Thing as Customer Service in Upscale Boutiques?" which involved my sister, my niece, and my frustrations gone wild, I am ready to share what I did.

I posed a quiz to see how some of you would react to my recent dilemna: getting text messages from my sister about the bad customer service she received at a posh boutique during her weekend shopping trip with my niece. And really there was no wrong answer except doing nothing. At least, that's what I deem the wrong answer to be.

So "Andrea" got it right on the money, saying this:

"...I would probably choose E, and call the manager. I would first encourage my sister to speak up about her experience and if she didn't want to, I would probably take it upon myself to do it.I also know the importance in good customer service, and when a family member or I are not subject to that, it is unacceptable."

So that is exactly what I did. Once Sarah told me the store that did her and my niece wrong by not even greeting them or helping her (especially when they were the only ones in the store!), I took it upon myself and called. My phone call went a little something like this:

"Hello, my sister...well, wait a minute -- I need to speak to the manager (the woman replies she is the owner). Well, I'm a bit disturbed to hear that my sister and niece were just in your store checking out Ed Hardy stuff and was completely ignored by the two ladies that were working (she says that she was the one standing there, acknowledging she recalls seeing them come in, but before she knew it, they were gone, and she couldn't get a word in edgewise...). Now, let me explain something to you: I have worked in high-end retail, and good customer service starts with just saying hello. And unfortunately for your store, you won't be receiving my sister's purchase, 'cause BOY can she shop! (she says she hopes my sister comes back, but I reassure that she never would.) In addition, I am a personal shopper and work in the fashion industry, and this is very disappointing for me to hear. I will make sure that none of my clients walk in your store and I, myself, will not be visiting you anytime soon. (she then excuses herself when we're talking to greet the customers walking in...it's like gimme a break -- you're trying to show me NOW that you're all about good customer service?!) Well, I just want to bring this to your attention because it's really a shame to ignore a potentially valuable customer (and then while she tried to speak again, I hung up.).

So that's how it went down! This happened just over a month ago, and I'm still proud that I contacted the store. However, now I wish I would have gone in there to test my sister's experience out. WAS my sister a really fast shopper that day, and exaggerated to me. Or, did she barely describe the lack of friendliness in the store. Either way, I felt empowered to give her a piece of my mind.

And you got me, I don't work IN the fashion industry, I write about it. But it doesn't hurt to scare her, right?

Isabella Dee turned her experience around completely -- a popularly chic boutique in the Claremont Village. Currently, I am trying to score an interview with the owner about turning my sister's frown upside down. Wish me luck! ;)

Photo Credit: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/online/article264775.ece (at least my sister left Isabella Dee as happy as Lily Allen looks! Maybe Sarah's original experience was meant to lead her to the righteous land of retail therapy in such abfabulous shop).


Unknown said...

I have had that experience, probably twice. Calling them didn`t provide me with any resolution, since they seemed equally nasty the second time around.

Good Girl Gone Shopping said...

It's just a frustrating thing! Retail can be very demanding and annoying to work in; however, it can also be a very fulfilling experience. Obviously, me having gone through the various emotions associated with helping personal customers in retail, I can say that retail is not for everyone! If someone truly doesn't want to help someone, go work some place else. It's that simple...

Beth Anderson said...

Elana~what about being on the other end? It seems like even if I bend over backwards to help someone, if they are unhappy....that's it. I know I've lost them as a customer for ever. Even with clear written policies, people demand their money back, want another item sent free because the carrier left it and it got "stolen" or it wasn't what they expected...it ends up costing me money.

Good Girl Gone Shopping said...

I think as long as you know you went above and beyond in trying to help them and meet the needs, then you shouldn't be accused of wronging someone. There are tons of factors that can probably get in the way of making sure a product is delivered perfectly. And honestly, I would hope that a customer understands that if he or she is going to order online, there IS the chance of potential mishaps that may be involved in deliveries.

I think bad business and bad customer service is forgetting about the customer after the sale is rung up. Good customer service shouldn't end the minute that store or person gets paid. To maintain your positive reputation, maybe it means to contact that customer a few weeks down the road acknowledging the previous problem you shared with her, but letting her know you still value has a customer. Maybe include a coupon for her next purchase? If I received that after I complained, I would feel totally valued and special as a customer.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on to your blog today...wonderful blog.
The store ower does not know you personally so if you would like, you can still conduct your own test.
Product Junkie Diva

anna. said...

i hate when people ignore you at a boutique.
i have walked into one,
not been wearing their type of clothing,
looked at in a funny way,
even laughed at.
its horribly rude.
how did you become a personal shopper?
thats very cool.

Good Girl Gone Shopping said...

Hey Product Junkie -- you're so right. I plan to visit Isabella Dee soon, so I think I'll step in that one soon...and try to keep my cool ;)

And Anna, I am developing my company based on what women need, and what they ask me for help with! That simple -- plus I absolutely LOVE seeing a woman smile and say "This is the one. I trust you!"