More than just lip service

Is it just me, or are you also getting a little weary of companies that offer a bunch of hollow words in place of customer service?

I get it that retail staff are relatively low paid workers and probably don’t feel like bouncing around, being happiness personified, all of the time, but if some retailers can get it right, why can’t the rest of them?  There are some stores that I actively avoid now, rather than face their unhelpful and surly staff.

Just recently, a lady posted on facebook that her business was struggling and she asked for understanding on the part of customers who, let’s face it, can be less than friendly themselves. The unexpected response to this plea was an outpouring of complaints about her staff who they said, were less than helpful, and frequently downright rude.  What a blow that must have been… to think her struggles might be put down to something so simple, but at the same time, obvious perhaps.

Having said that, I can believe it, as people really can’t be bothered spending their hard-earned dosh with companies that make it so unpleasant to shop with them.

It is very clear to me that organisations like Yuppie Chef, that online foodie heaven, have put customer service at the very heart of what they do.  Every experience I have had with them has been a positive one, right down to the little love notes that accompany their parcels. And their new concept stores offer the same friendly reception and helpful advice… at least my experience at the Mall of Africa branch did (shout out to them).

So they at least have got it right, and not just in my opinion either, my informal research offers the same positive results.  Le Creuset too has managed to conquer this hurdle that brings so many others to their knees, and offer great service, both in-store and online (thanks Mary).

I have also recently noticed that even Pick n Pay seems to be making efforts to improve its image with customers, perhaps as a result of the Brasher’s efforts, motivated by his R32-million payout this year.  So it comes as no surprise that these are the guys making big profits in an otherwise strained economy.  Either way, it still leaves some of the ‘front runners’ lagging far, far behind.

In some stores, it’s a real effort to even find someone to assist.  I was recently in that great big toy shop for men, where the staff had removed the batteries from the button to call for assistance!  They must have been desperate to avoid serving customers to have stooped to that level.

I get it that ‘the public’ is comprised of a horrendous bunch of losers that just can’t be polite or reasonable no matter what… and I imagine it’s quite hard to put up with that.  At the end of the day though, ‘the public’ are not the ones being paid to be helpful.  And, while I do kind of get it that staff can’t beam from ear to ear for their whole 8 hours on the job if they could just apply the same concept as those lights in carparks that shine when you are in the vicinity, life would take on a rosier hue.

I’m going to leave the staff of SOEs, or worse, government, for now, as I guess we have to start with the easy stuff first… and these guys will be a whole other kind of nut to crack, never mind ask to shine a little light!

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