29-May-2012 16:10

That's It, I Give Up....

This afternoon I had to frequent a well-known high street electrical chain (wouldn’t be fair to name but a clue is their name which is similar to several Indian dishes & starts with a C) and the ‘salesman’ (and I use that word rather advisedly) - apparently the ‘head’ of that specific department - was so poorly trained and so lacking in product knowledge that I literally & very rudely; so if he reads this… if he can read English, I apologise; laughed in his face…

One often & disparagingly reads about poor, laughable & inadequate customer services, but when it hits you squarely in the face, it is excruciatingly annoying.

Just back in my office and need a strong cuppa just to cool down & that’s in a non air-conditioned office!

Hey people… any examples to share with us?

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Contributed by Phillip Khan-Panni - Wordsmith on 30-May-2012 22:19
There is often evidence of training need simply because there has been no training.

Retail staff need training in (a) product knowledge (b) systems and procedures, and (c) customer service.

This very afternoon I was in a cafe on Wimbledon Common where the young lady behind the counter got every part of the order wrong. That would have been forgivable, as she clearly had received no training at all, but what was not forgivable was her surly attitude.

All she brought to her job (lucky to have a job at all these days), apart from a pair of hands, was her attitude. The way she behaved actively alienated customers. Others like her need to understand that their contract is to provide a helpful attitude and efficiency in exchange for the salary they receive.

Norman's experience at Curry's could have had more serious consequences -- he could have been given wrong advice and bought the wrong product as a result. That could be (legally) actionable.
Contributed by Binh Zientek on 30-May-2012 19:53

I order my groceries weekly with and have them delivered to my home. They have been late quite a few times, and sometimes the food I have ordered are not delivered! But the saving grace are the very nice delivery people who are always friendly, polite and carry my shopping up two floors! They are the reason I carry on ordering. I do feel sorry for these chaps as they are cheerful despite the fact that the Tesco head office sometimes lets them down and do not notify customers of potential delays. So these staff have to face an irate customer.
The result of all this is that I now split more of my weekly budget on my local waitrose who offer quality food, and friendly staff.
The internet is convenient but I still value friendly and helpful service from a smiling person.
Contributed by John Paul on 30-May-2012 19:52

I like curries - curries are electric (particularly a nice, hot madras lamb, yummy), ecclectic, eccentric, ecocentric, ecologically concentric etc.

As far as Curry's goes, I doubt they're any different from any chain. Are you really expecting an Einstein clone or prodigy on 6.08 ph to sell you a cable, cd pack, usb hub etc.? According to the new age of retail the smart money is on auto-research and online purchases. Though, it's commendable that you walked (or took some other form of transport) to a shop, so it's truly unforfunate that you were not ultimately satisfied. I'm sure there are complaints procedures.
Contributed by Joseph Heller on 30-May-2012 15:41
Plenty of bad experiences, retail standards are sadly dropping.

Thanks, anyway, for the update, in future I shall be avoiding the electrical chain 'Chapati's' like the plague.
Contributed by Richard Philip Parsons on 30-May-2012 14:57
Hey Norman,
I don't accept second best... if I believe I am unlikely to get the service which I expect, I'll simply go elsewhere.

I think the point I am trying to communicate is that from my perception, the quality of service which I usually receive often appears to me to be the result of the way in which the particular relationship develops.

That is to say, if I am disappointed by a response, I will quickly move on or simply delay making the decision...
Contributed by William Buist on 30-May-2012 12:32
There's never an excuse for ignoring people.

I do think the big retail chains are suffering from the long term impacts of reduced footfall, from the recession and from the impact of the internet, and that's left many of the chain retailers with a void in middle management (that's where they found the cost savings) - What I think you are seeing is the impact of that on the front end. No excuse, as I said.

It's also why I think I homed in on the two examples I did, both are owned by the people who serve you. John Lewis is a genuine partnership, and it shows, Beards a family run business, and it shows
Contributed by Norman Feiner on 30-May-2012 12:30
I am surprised (again) Richard.

Why do you seem to accept 'second-best' service, poor salesmen & terrible customer services?

Surely, we & others must continually strive to do better, know more & be increasingly helpful in our biz and private lives...

I'm sure I'm incorrect but my perceptions, gleaned directly from your comments, are that you accept and condone rotten & below-standard work & service and enter relationships - be they in a retail shop or with clients - with rather poor expectations in an effort not to become stressed or upset...

Sorry, that simply won't do for me - I hope to provide & expect in return better than that !
Contributed by Robert Turner on 30-May-2012 12:24
@"As I say, Norman, to approach the sort of situations you have described with low expectations is far more likely to make an encounter less stressful"

Well, both Norman's and my own story ended with us shaking our heads in disbelief and laughing our way out of the stores. Slightly frustrating experiences? Yes. Stressful? Not really.

@"Nobody will often be able to do the job as well as you, in your opinion and so you just have to tolerate the other person's best efforts"

That's simply not true, and also sounds a little arrogant to be honest.

I've managed teams and delegated work including account managers, accountants and technical staff etc, and have outsourced design and coding work - All of which was done better (and more efficiently) by the people i worked with than i could have done myself at the time.

If you have such low expectations of people from personal experience, perhaps you should work with better people? (or perhaps I've been spoiled by being lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented individuals who surpassed all my expectations on a regular basis, who knows?)
Contributed by Richard Philip Parsons on 30-May-2012 12:23
As I say, Norman, to approach the sort of situations you have described with low expectations is far more likely to make an encounter less stressful...

A similar situation can arise when having to delegate a role which has become uneconomic for you to perform...

Nobody will often be able to do the job as well as you, in your opinion and so you just have to tolerate the other person's best efforts...
Contributed by Norman Feiner on 30-May-2012 11:45
Great to hear of two 'happy-ending' stories but unsure what this has to do with the gist of my blog.
Contributed by Richard Philip Parsons on 30-May-2012 11:43
How often have you contacted somebody about a perceived problem and as you begin to discuss the issue, you suddenly realise that you already know the answer... sometimes because the supplier has already provided the answer?

In April, I applied for a Santander Credit Card over the telephone. I was actually just looking to replace the PayPal CC which was discontinued at the end of March.

The conversation expanded when I was asked whether I wanted one with an annual charge or one without. Immediately, I felt that I had done too little research!!

To cut a long story short, I will just explain that the end result was that I visited the local high street Santander branch and opened one of the new 123 current accounts in joint names with my wife plus two separate 123 cashback Credit card accounts, after checking with Martin Lewis at, of course...

I have to say that the service which I received was amazing... especially in view of the poor service rating which Santander appears to have enjoyed in the past...

Another story is one I heard from a friend, told to him by a doctor. The Doctor explained how his job had become so much easier because so many of his patients were now diagnosing themselves from information found on the Internet and all he was having to do was write the consultant referral letter for the patient...
Contributed by Robert Turner on 30-May-2012 10:49
"I believe that it is totally unreasonable to expect anybody to deliver the sort of customer service which you both appear to expect from a person who is highly likely to be very poorly remunerated..."

Well then you clearly have even lower expectations of customer services staff than i do!

When did it become unreasonable to expect someone who works in customer services to actually care about what they do, or to care about how they service the customer?
When did it get to the point where we shouldn't expect someone to be experienced and at least competent in an area they work?

Are you even more jaded than me to have such low expectations of people?

"In a circumstance like this, who will you praise, the person or his employer??"

The person, clearly - THEY are the ones that are responsible for their knowledge and ability - and i don't think it unreasonable for someone working in a shop that specifically sells computer equipment (for example) to be well at least reasonably versed in computers! Even given the fact that some may know certain areas more than others, it is frustrating and depressing to be met with slack jawed vacant expressions from people who are apparently there to help.

Customer services isn't complicated - A smile, an active interest in what you are selling/helping to sell; actually giving a cr*p about the customer and interacting on a human, professional level is all it takes to give a customer a great experience and encourage repeat visits/purchases - It's good for them personally, it's good for the customer and it's good for the business - And i really don't think that is too much to ask.
Contributed by William Buist on 30-May-2012 10:43
I agree Richard, although the manner in which you handle a need for specialist advice as a generalist is important and I don't think retailers do enough customer service training around how to handle questions that are specialist in nature. As a result they fail, rather than signpost and acknowledge that the question is outside their skills. That does need attention, good examples of where I have seen it done well are John Lewis and our local independent electrical retailer, Beards.

We are all know GP's have no specialist knowledge of unusual disorders and don't instantly give us all the technical detail about the disorder, instead they refer us to a specialist, and we would't laugh at them because of their lack of specific knowledge. Retailers need to think about how they set expectations properly. Equally as consumers we need to ask if our expectations are unreasonable.

Both PC world and Currys target market is mass consumer, not niche technical, and both are seeking transactional relationships, not knowledge based or deep personal ones.
Contributed by Richard Philip Parsons on 30-May-2012 10:43
I have to disagree with you, Norman...

... and Robert because I believe that it is totally unreasonable to expect anybody to deliver the sort of customer service which you both appear to expect from a person who is highly likely to be very poorly remunerated...

To expect anybody to know any-more than you about anything is, IMO, wishful thinking. Full marks to the 'PC Expert' who used google in an attempt to answer a query...

The attitude I will always adopt when approaching anybody for advice is to make it clear that we will be jointly seeking a solution. As life and technology appear to continually get more complicated, expecting anybody to have a ready answer for anything really is futile.

Of course, you might be lucky and discover that you are conversing with somebody who has just resolved an identical problem for somebody else. In a circumstance like this, who will you praise, the person or his employer??
Contributed by Robert Turner on 30-May-2012 09:26
I have to confess i long ago gave up any hope of high street stores hiring anyone with any modicum of intelligence or concept of customer care (and people wonder why the High Street is dying?)

My personal favorite is PC World - One would hope that a store, that specifically sells PC's would, oh i don't know, have a blasted clue about PC's? Au contraire!

Latest example: I was building a new rig (aka Gaming PC) not so long ago and i was contemplating the pros and cons of AMD vs Intel chipsets (CPU's); personally being a long time fan of AMD, but the new i5's from Intel are awesome processors with huge potential so i was torn.

Now, it just so happened i was waiting for my lovely other half one day and happened to be near a PC World... So i thought i would pop in and get some "expert" advice to compliment my own reading/research.

After an initially frustrating conversation, where i had to explain to the 'PC Expert' that i was talking about the CPU of a machine - After (only...) three attempts, i got someone who actually knew what they were talking about... Apparently... And their response was "Good question" - which he followed by going online on one of the machines and type the question into Google...

It was around about then i laughed out loud and walked out of the shop...
Contributed by Robert Craven on 29-May-2012 17:50

Contributed by SimplyFone Blogger on 29-May-2012 17:10
Good to get positive feedback too - N
Contributed by Martin Dewhurst on 29-May-2012 17:08

This could turn out to be the worlds longest thread Norman, so instead I'll share a positive one.
VW Garage Bradford.

Called in for a brochure for my partner. Was in a rush so half expected a battle with the salesman and his need to grab my details.
Oh contraire ...

Seeing I was in a rush and reading the situation with laser like confidence and good training ...

"That's fine Sir, here's the brochure, the price list and the specs you need are near the back. Here's my card, just give me a call when you're ready and we can take it from there."

VW, you're light years ahead of the competition :)
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