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Sunday, January 8, 2012

What is customer service?

Friday evening, CBC's Marketplace aired their first episode of the new year.  The topic discussed is certainly a hot button issue with a lot of folks. Me included.

Customer service

I watched the episode online and then read through a lot of the viewers comments.  And, it got me thinking about my own experiences with the three biggest offenders as listed on the episode.


This time last year I wrote a couple of posts speaking of my experiences with Zellers.  I was asked to remove my posts, which I didn't.  In the end I did receive a resolution to my issue, several weeks later, but nonetheless.

I had issue with the CBC program and their customer service complaint at Zellers.  The company has a policy which clearly states their return policy.  The employee and manager followed the policy.  Their policy is there for a reason and employees are expected to abide by them.  Yes, exceptions can be made, but they are not to be expected, after all, everyone has a reason why the policy doesn't apply to them.  Here's the problem (in my opinion) policies are fairly new to us.  It wasn't that long ago that businesses didn't really have anything in writing.  I worked retail for 20 years and I can remember when we just took care of people and their issues on an individual basis.


CBC's example was ridiculous.  Why would the store take back a used item?  Any large item like that, usually has a printed slip saying not to return it to the retail location and to contact the manufacturer, yet, that was not mentioned in the segment.  And that guy got a $100 gift card for his complaint!  The customer in the segment was very mild mannered and appeared to be a gentleman.  I tend to believe that he was being honest and saying the lawn mower didn't live up to his expectations, yet that doesn't matter in the world of returns.  If Canadian Tire doesn't accept used mechanical equipment back, you must follow proper channels to make your complaint.  Which in this case, was most likely contacting the manufacturer directly.

I know from my own experiences with Canadian Tire that most stores are franchised.  It is up to each owner's discretion how they want to handle a customers complaint.  Likely, if accepted back at the store that lawn mower would of sat in the back room for weeks, and then eventually be thrown down the garbage shoot.

My experience with Canadian Tire was with an item that scanned at a price higher than the shelf price.  I asked  about the scanning code of practice, and if they participated, which I was told they did not.  However, it was posted on the door.  After the employee spoke to her supervisor, I was told again they didn't do that.  I contacted Canadian Tire customer service and was told it was up to each owner if they wanted to opt in.  After several weeks, of not hearing from the owner, who I was told would call me, I got in touch with customer service by telephone again.  Later that week I did receive a call from my local owner offering me the scanning code of practice. 


The example on the program was a gal with a photo book and the obscene amount of time it took to get it to her.  Yes, I agree Walmart completely dropped the ball in regards to the book.  Her book should of been compliments of the store and maybe a small gift card would of been in order.

Another, point they made was looking for clerks and asking for assistance.  True, it is rather difficult to find clerks in most stores.  Why?  My experience tells me they have one (maybe two) clerks working per section.  And, if you find a clerk in one section they don't know other sections of the store, because they are hired for that department alone.  Each department has a budget and a certain number of hours, you don't let your employee go work in another department without charging that to the other department.  And, if you are looking for an opinion on a certain product, they used coffee makers in the segment, how would the employee at any of these stores have an opinion?  They don't let you use or sample the products, and unless you own it personally how would they know?  If you want an opinion or recommendation, you are shopping at the wrong kind of store!  You need a specialty store.

I don't shop all that much at Walmart, but when I do I wait forever in super long lineups to pay for my items.  I would say an average of 15 minutes in line is the norm.  Waiting to return sometimes is even worse.  Maybe, that is why I don't shop there a lot, I simply just can't  stand for that long!

I was rather surprised that the company I worked for wasn't mentioned in the piece.  Lord knows, we had complaints.  I dealt with them daily.  Yes, there were times we dropped the ball and the customer should be making a complaint.  At the same time, complaints should be made properly.  Swearing, assaulting, harassing are not the proper channels to voice a complaint.

What are your thoughts?  I think that a person's perception differs greatly depending if you've ever worked the other side of the counter.  Obviously, I have.

Did you see the show?  What are your expectations when it comes to customer service?


Pour partager ma mode said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Multi-Testing Mommy said...

I didn't watch the show. Actually, this is my first time hearing about it!

Sweet Panda said...

I did not watch the show either but sometimes, I do find that it's very frustrated with customer service.

Lucky that we now have email, so that people can email the store to raise their complaint.

I recently had a very bad experience with a Sears cashier. I emailed Sears customer service and raised the issue about my really really bad experience. Just got an email from them saying my complaint has been brought to the attention to the store manager and haven't heard back from them.

~ The Country Mouse ~ said...

I had an issue at Sears last month, and was told the same thing. That is a canned response, and means nothing.

Take to twitter or write on their facebook wall, you might get a result that way.

~*Cee*~ said...

I've been lucky (so far) to have never had an issue with big stores...but maybe it's because I'm so non-confrontational that I miss the part where it *should be* an issue...does that make sense?

Sober Julie said...

We've had isssues in the past, some have been resolved and some not to my satisfaction.

It's life as a consumer. Business is tough and when you have millions of shoppers it's difficult to please each of us.

That doesn't mean that I don't want GREAT, consistent customer service

Jennifer L said...

I haven't had a big problem yet with any big store. I do know that the customer isn't always right anymore. That's why all the policies.

I would have loved to have seen that special. Thanks for sharing.

MTgunfighter said...

I just bought a Vizio TV from Wally World.

Bad idea.

No service. When I am buying a big ticket item, I expect some help.

There was none.

Fortunately, I bought a national brand, not some Wally World brand no one has heard of...

Jena said...

I find that, in general, customer service everywhere (in the big stores, anyway) leaves much to be desired. Our most recent customer service nightmare was with Rogers, our wireless provider. Long, long story, but in the end, it proved that the people my husband was talking to at first, the people who answered the phones, seemed able to comprehend what we needed (my husband's new iPhone wasn't working), but when they sent it on to their supervisors for approval, it got messed up. After a month of trying to get this problem resolved, my husband contacted the national person in charge of customer service (Pres. of Customer Contact or something) and left a message. He called them back again when he didn't hear from them by 6am (PST) and got to talk to someone. They worked diligently to get his problem resolved, and when it was fixed, they thanked him for not switching providers (which we had considered, and have done before) because they felt that they never would've known about this problem (he's not the only person it was affecting) had he not been so proactive in seeking a solution. We actually feel quite certain that the company is going to be re-assessing some of the ways it handles tech complaints, as it's likely my husband's problem was going to be lost in the world of open tickets. To compensate for the frustration and hours spent on the phone, Rogers is reducing our monthly bill for a couple of months. We are satisfied customers, though had my husband not been the kind of guy to call the highest-up person he can, we'd probably be Bell customers now.

Ms. Key said...

I didn't see that, but I find it interesting! Doesn't sound like CBC did a very good job with their examples. I was a cashier as my first job, at Canadian Tire actually. It was sometimes very difficult to deal with customers, but mainly I had a good experience. I tried to always keep a smile on my face and be as helpful and positive as possible. I fortunately didn't work in the Customer Service department specifically so if there were major issues the customers would be directed there and I didn't see the outcome.

The CT I worked for did follow that scanning policy, I remember working there when it was brand spanking new and we had to get used to it. I'd honour it no question, but it was our store policy to honour it so I suppose that's why I did it!

I haven't had too many poor customer service experiences, but I don't really like confrontation with those who work in retail... a lot of the stuff is NOT their fault as the ground-level employees. I also haven't had too much experience with those big ticket items that I suppose might raise bigger issues yet, but I guess when I become a home-owner one day that'll be likely to change!

Thanks for sharing this.

Tarasview said...

I didn't see the show but I have had both awful and great customer service at lots of stores... I think it so often depends on the day and the person themselves! I've worked in retail... it is a hard job.

thanks for sharing!

Shash said...

It's rare to find good customer service these days, anywhere. I was getting gas and went inside to pay, the clerk NEVER GOT OFF HER PHONE! mouthed what I owed and kept on talking!!

Is it a generational thing? Do we just not care anymore? I worked in retail and restaurants from the age of 13, I know good customer service. Lazy seems to be a common issue these days!

good post!

Positively Pampered Patty said...

I did not see the special but I totally get this, I had a terrible experience with Sears and could not believe the customer service we got as a result of their error. Everyone has bad days and working in customer service is a tough job. I did it myself for several years.