Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

You’re the manager of a big-box home improvement store and the economy’s hit bottom. Do you cut employee hours across the board, so much so that potential customers can find no one to take their money?

It looks like you do.

I spent 20 minutes in the appliances section of a huge home improvement store yesterday, waiting with another lady who kept pressing the “please come sell me something” button to no avail. I had the exact make and model of the appliance I wanted in hand, on a printout given to me a few weeks earlier by one of the store’s employees. All I needed was for someone to order the appliance and charge a large amount of money to my credit card.

But no. The section of the store in which NOTHING is priced UNDER $500 and most everything is priced OVER $1200 was completely unstaffed on a Sunday afternoon.

What’s funny is that the OTHER big-box home improvement store had already pulled a similar stunt with me and my remodeling dollars several weeks before.

I’m not begging anybody to take my money. If showing up is half the battle, you guys LOSE.

What a boon for the local mom-and-pop stores that have survived the competition. I bet bad customer service experiences get more people through their doors than anything else.

Every appliance in my kitchen is going to have to be replaced in the next couple of years. It’s very handy to have a list of the stores that don’t really want to sell me anything.

Read Full Post »

Last week, I wanted beignets. More than that, I wanted to sit at the Cafe Du Monde with friends at 1 a.m., drinking coffee and chicory and listening to street musicians. I wanted to try to convince my husband that I really did need a tattoo, and have him remind me that I only say that after I’ve had too many hurricanes. (For better or worse, BTW, too much alcohol for me involves not that much alcohol at all.)

I spent approximately 25 years of my life within a couple of hours of New Orleans. Now the Crescent City is an entire day’s drive away, so spur-of-the-moment trips just aren’t happening anymore.

But I did find beignets. A Huntsville friend was kind enough to introduce me to the Coffee Tree Books & Brew, located at 7900 Bailey Cove Road. Every Saturday morning, they serve beignets until they run out – and they DO run out. And I’m talking authentic beignets, perfect in size and shape and coated in about three times as much powdered sugar as necessary.

Honestly, I had worried that I was dragging my husband out of the house before noon on a Saturday for a big plate of disappointment. Right after we moved up here almost three years ago, a seafood chain claimed to be serving real New Orleans-style beignets. And they may have been delicious if they hadn’t been coated with caramel-flavored syrup.

Powdered sugar AND syrup? That’s IHOP, not dessert.

The Coffee Tree did not disappoint, however. As a bonus, my friend knew the proprietors and had told them we were coming in just for the beignets, so they were extra eager to see how we liked them. That said, they seemed eager to be sure that ALL their customers were happy.

The used bookstore attached to the cafe area is lagniappe.

No chicory, no street musicians, but I persevered.

Good coffee, good conversation, and good beignets – really, other than that elusive tattoo, what more could a girl want?

UPDATE: I’m told that there IS chicory available if you ask. This just gets better and better

Read Full Post »

I don’t know why flagrantly bad customer service still shocks me, but it does.

I’ve been trying to join a gym this week. When my husband accepted his great new job a couple of weeks ago, I lost access to his uncrowded, well-appointed company gym. My inner cheerleader was all, “Yay, dynamic career move,” while my inner weightlifter was all, “Crap, now I’ll have to wait for bench time again.” 

I qualify for a significant discount at this gym, which I’ll call Party A. I’ve been a member there before, so no worries, right? 

Worries. Oh yes, worries.

Clerks who don’t want to explain, just process paperwork, even if it’s wrong. Managers who ignore polite e-mails. Clerks who do explain things, but only to inform me that they work for Party B, a contractor for Party A, and therefore can’t really help me. Clerks who insist that both clients (me and the husband) fill out our paperwork at the same time because they might lose it before he returns to complete his part of it.

Essentially, this gym is doing its best to avoid accepting hundreds of dollars a year from me.

I’ve been nice. I’ve been beyond nice. If anybody deserves good customer service for being polite and helpful, it’s me. A combination of Southern manners and unspoken inner apology for actually using the services of customer service personnel (I know, issues) means I’m on my best behavior. I’m the most awesome customer you ever want to cause problems for.

Yesterday, after having had no gym access for more than a week, I gave in and stopped by my neighborhood gym, which is run by the homeowner’s association.

The last time I was there, it was a small, humid little room stuffed with a couple of weird weight machines, a few dumbbells, a stairstepper and two stationary bicycles. It was frequented by a few guys attempting to lift weights on a laughably small mat, and a bunch of retirees pedaling in place while watching Oprah reruns.

It’s since been renovated. It still contains the weird weight machines and a few dumbbells, but the association has tripled the space and added more cardio equipment. It’s much less humid, though there seems to be an inordinate number of roach motels lining the walls, a condition that I choose to ignore for now.  

It is, appropriately enough, entirely adequate for my gym needs.

I guess I should thank Parties A and B for their complete ineptitude and disregard for minimal customer appreciation, since their neglect led me to find a useful resource that is a mere half mile from my home, not to even mention the money they’re saving me every month.

Still, chasing customers away and playing the “I’m just a contractor” card is really bad long-term strategy. Eventually, those lost and angry clients will add up.

In the meantime, though, I’ve got a whole season’s worth of Oprah reruns to watch with Betty, provided I can get Carl to turn off Fox News.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: