For a long time retailers in the UK, left a lot to be desired when it came to service. Much has changed in recent years , a bit like UK restaurants, when they are good , they are hard to beat.
Hence, when you do get bad service it sticks out like a sore thumb. I am not the type who will give a torrent of abuse to a retailer just because they not bowing to my every need but two recent experiences really wound me up. On both occasions, they were multiple retailers, one large and one small.
Recently , Julia and I visited a particular small chain retailer, looking for a sofa. They were specialists who only sold there own brand and it was a design we both liked. Julia rang the store,in London’s West End, to ask if this design was in the showroom and that we would be coming in about a hours time.
Now, my wife can be like an Exocet missile when it comes to bad service. You don’t see her coming but creates havoc on impact. On this particular occasion she was like a cuddly pussy cat. We asked at least four technical questions (technical to us) , each one was prefaced by ‘…I am sorry to disturb you…’.
Each and every time the shop assistant (and that is exactly what they were) stood up from behind their computer and gave their answer, then promptly sat down again. On the one occasion, that she came over to give her answer (she had to because we were out of visual contact) she spun on a sixpence, returned to her computer and colleague and continued their discussion on how nice would it would be if there was a shower in the shop.
Now our dilemma was that we wanted to buy this sofa. But there was no way we were going to give her the satisfaction of knowing that , or indeed rewarding her tawdry retailing skills. So we thought we would try another branch. The following weekend, we visited another branch , and the experience could not have been different. The staff were delightful, informative,welcoming and made us feel like a ‘valued ‘ customer. We made our purchase and enjoyed the retail experience. Julia has vowed she will have her Julia Roberts moment in the West End store.
The next event happened last week. I went into a national chain, Halfords, and bought 2 water bottles for my bike . On approaching the till, the guy said would I mind taking my purchases downstairs as he had a form to complete. For all he knew I could have been trying to buy a two grand bike, instead of £4 worth of water bottles. Like a good boy, I tottered down the stairs and joined a queue of one. When it was my turn , I received an apology for having to wait sixty seconds. Noticing he was the deputy manager, I said ‘….thank you but I suggest you tell your colleague upstairs, that taking customers cash is a priority to form fulfilling…’ He, then asked if he actually did this , and then he said he would talk to him.
The point here is that there are retailers within our industry displaying a similar lack of professionalism. Friday evening I ordered an item from Amazon. It arrived through my letter box 8:30 on Saturday morning . Frightening as it is, this is where we are. We have to step up to the mark where necessary and show how good we can be. For those that don’t there won’t be many tomorrows left in retailing.
When I say ‘we’ I mean the royal ‘we’. Whether supplier or retailer we have to try to work to make sure that our industry grows and does not succumb to threats such supply from web from source.