15 November, 2013

Customer Service: Are We Really Being Served?

I have previously worked in my youth as a sales assistant for F. W. Woolworths, House of Fraser and Habitat and so, as Christmas shopping begins with fervour probably this very weekend, I am sparing a thought for the souls on the front line – the much beleaguered and frequently much-criticized sales staff.

customer service: Mollie Sugden as Miss Slocombe in BBC's Are You Being Served?

Mollie Sugden as Miss Slocombe in BBC’s “Are You Being Served”

Now I know there are many, many things that drive me nuts about what Mary Portas would no doubt term the “retail experience”.

For example:-

But you know what?  The public can be, how shall I put it, somewhat challenging. I’m thinking of customers who

There are clearly rights and wrongs on either side.  As an observation though, on Saturdays I seem to find shops staffed with very young staff and not a manager in sight to help them or to help resolve customer service issues.  Surely if there’s one day of the week when all stock should be out and extra stock available, it’s Saturday.

We expect these often poorly paid foot soldiers to take everything that’s thrown at them with a smile. I often think a good manager is like a good Army General. They lead from the front. Not from the stock cupboard with a cup of coffee and a copy of Hello.

Mark Carney, the new Governor of the Bank of England announced this week that there are signs that the UK’s economic recovery is beginning to take hold. That’s good news; not so good news for the staff of Blockbuster which is now in administration (due, no doubt to competition by online film providers such as LoveFilm). I wonder, though, why Blockbuster couldn’t have seen this coming and taken steps much earlier to protect their business.

I think this year’s Christmas sales may prove decisive for a number of retailers so now, more than ever, customer service HAS to be gold standard.  Not bog standard. E-tailers such as Amazon.co.uk are major competitors for the lion’s share of Christmas profits.  If our high streets are to survive we need to ensure customers keep coming in – not drive them away.

Investment in customer service training for staff and strong management of both staff and stock may make the difference between survival and administration in some cases.

Let’s hope it’s a happy and a prosperous festive period for everybody.

One response to “Customer Service: Are We Really Being Served?”

  1. I understand both sides as I hate it when staff are too busy chatting to each other but also hate it when customers want to have a full blown conversation with you whilst you are trying to serve a huge queue of people. Thank you for linking up to the I Love My Post blog hop.