Customer Service: Bad Versus Good

A tale of two experiences
The bad: I was out shopping, well, NOT shopping, just looking really; browsing, but most definitely NOT shopping. I wasn’t in the mood after my recent purchase and return, but I was kind of looking for a new ginger grater, so I went into Sur la Table. I found a nice variety but they were a bit pricey.  I realize that I’m packed full of contradictions–I’ll buy $300 worth of Chanel cosmetics while at the same time I also feel that $12.95 is too much for a kitchen utensil. I guess that’s what makes me unique, right? I continued to browse and made my way over to the electric kettle area. A gentleman (he was wearing an apron with the store logo on it, so I assume he was an employee) asked me if I was looking for anything special. I told him I was in fact looking for the kind of electric kettle that the captain used in Singapore. It was a pump dispenser-type that stayed hot. I haven’t been able to find that version. OK, I am not making this up when I say that he simply walked away from me. No response, not one word, nada! Hello? Am I invisible? He. walked. away. I was flabbergasted. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps he was going to search for it in a catalog on the store computer and return to where he left me. But no, he walked over to a cluster of other employees and apparently continued the conversation that my presence in the store had obviously interrupted. My mouth hung open and I was absolutely amazed. What could have possibly possessed him to make the effort to walk over to where I was and then just leave? There does not seem to be a rational explanation for his actions. Am I missing something? Did he think, “Oh screw it, I asked if I could help her, I didn’t expect her to actually need some assistance!” I mean, I’ve had some retail experience of my own–I know it’s hard to find that balance with being helpful and courteous but not hovering, and not openly exposing your hatred for every single human being that walks in the store and picks things up and replaces them where they don’t belong, leaving fingerprints on glass shelves, not to mention children who are holy terrors–I’ve been there. I could have done something. I wanted to sashay over to that pod of apron-wearers and jut one hip out and point my finger and say, “Oh no you din’t just walk away from me, oh gurlfrenn, no you din’t just diss me like that!” I seriously thought about going all ghetto on his ass. I considered finding the manager and in a more grownup fashion share my bizarre experience but it didn’t seem worth the effort. I think it is actually more effective to not ever patronize establishments with poor customer service. That will be my very last time in Sur la Table and I love to bake and cook; it’s their loss, not mine.
Now for the good: For a special treat, prior to the captain leaving for this most recent assignment, we went to our local In-N-Out. Even though we’re vegetarians, they have a “secret” menu my son had clued us into years ago. We always order a Grilled Cheese; it’s basically a hamburger without the meat. We share one order of fries and one chocolate milk shake. Yum! We were in the drive-through and it took forever; we were in line for approximately twenty-five minutes. It wasn’t an especially long line; we couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long. After we finally paid and got our food, we drove around the corner to a pretty street with a nice view. Everything was wrong–the sandwich was cold with congealed cheese, the milkshake had melted into chocolate milk, and the fries were lukewarm and rubbery. After having waited so long, we were so disappointed that we decided not to go back  and just to throw it away and go home. Captain had to pack and we needed to be at the airport at 4:00 a.m. the next morning. A couple of days later, I found the receipt and thought, what the heck, I’ll give them a call and tell them about our bad experience. We have never had a bad experience before; In-N-Out is such a treat for us–sometimes we ride our bicycles there and eat overlooking the ocean. Very cool and a great way to burn the calories too. I spoke with a very nice young lady in customer service and gave her the information she requested from the receipt. She said she was really sorry we had a bad experience and would send us a couple of vouchers for two complete meals. Hurray for good customer service! I thanked her and sure enough, the voucher promptly arrived a few days later. In-N-Out also followed up with a telephone call today to make sure we had received them and to ask if we enjoyed our return visit. I’m gonna wait until the Captain gets back next week and treat him!

That’s the tale of two ends of the spectrum of customer service. Will I go to In-N-Out again? You bet! Will I never spend any money at Sur la Table and tell everyone how I was dissed? You betcha!

4 thoughts on “Customer Service: Bad Versus Good

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences and couldn’t agree with you more. I have had that happen where the clerk just walks away. I wonder at times how some of these places stay open with the way that they treat their customers. Also have seen the good where they go the extra mile.

    It happens online quite a bit also. I have inquired with some websites where I have a question and they get back to you in a week or two. I make sure that I don’t go back to those sites or buy from them. That’s why I treat our customers the way I would want to be treated. I have had people surprise that I got back to them within a day. It comes down to respect I think.

    Great article!!



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