The sad state of customer service

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There is often a disconnect between the marketing a store or brand puts out and the real-life experience of the customer.

Most stores and brands tout “friendly, knowledgeable customer service” as a main selling feature. Yet, many times the in-store experience couldn’t be further from the hype. Advertising that is directed out of Toronto is clearly out of the loop with regional experiences across the country. When customers arrive at stores expecting the “expertise” described in print and TV advertising, they are often sorely disappointed.

Here’s what I don’t like when shopping:

  • Clothing racks that are so jam-packed you have to fight to pull out an outfit on a hanger
  • Stores that use their showrooms as warehouses – for the love of Pete, put excess inventory in the back, not the aisles
  • Stores that don’t adequately train (and retain) qualified, knowledgeable staff.
  • Disinterested sales staff who shrug when you ask a question.
  • Sales staff yakking with their colleagues while customers fumble around on their own.
  • Out of stock or no inventory. Seriously? You’re a STORE.

Here’s what I appreciate about shopping:

  • Attentive sales staff who are actually helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Staff who offer to find me a different size while I’m in the change room.
  • Staff who can recommend accessories or additional pieces to complete an outfit.
  • Staff who have the ability to make things right, in the moment. Customer recovery is a lost art in most stores these days.
  • Staff who appreciate my business and are sincere.

I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here. In fact, when I shop at higher-end stores in the US (Saks, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdales) these are the precise service standards I experience there.

When is the last time you were really “wow’d” at a store?

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