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Contrasting Styles in Customer Service

An afternoon of suit shopping led me to write about how quality of customer services impacts success.

Customer service is always a key to success for individual growth and for the long term vitality of a business, no matter what industry or specialty is involved. In rough economies, this is even more essential as customers expect a little bit extra when spending their limited resources. What follows is a comparison of two experiences I had yesterday and why I spent money at the less likely of the two places.

Suit shopping is very low on my list of things that I enjoy doing. Quite honestly, I hate trying on clothing, despise dealing with getting fitted, and really do not like wearing formal garments. Due to a combination of losing several inches off my waistline and having several significant activities on the horizon, I set out yesterday to find a suit at a decent price that actually fits properly.

My first stop was a well know menswear chain which advertises heavily. The actual pricing was close to qualifying as bait and switch but that is not what kept me from purchasing a suit there. A rather arrogant salesman practically insulted me by saying that very few people they see are my size so they had one item in stock that fit me. I would need to select a series of suits from their catalog, pay for them in advance, schedule a private fitting, then ask for a refund on those I did not like. I asked why I had to pay in advance, sight unseen, and was told that I should know that is how a shop like this operates. He also criticized me for wearing shorts on a nearly 100 degree day as that is not right for suit shopping (even though I would be switching to suit pants for the fitting process)! He also kept grumbling about how lazy his co-workers were! With that delightful attitude getting on my nerves, I left the store.

I continued up the highway to a moderate priced department store to see if they happened to having anything to fit my "difficult" size in stock. A very enthusiastic sales associate greeted me, looked me over quickly, and proceeded to put five suits in front of me, all at very affordable prices. He listened to my concerns and helped me select the proper fitting attire. Finally, he very patiently measured me and marked the suit so his tailor to alter it properly. He was dealing with three customers at once and closed each sale with a smile in a gracious manner. I was so impressed by him that I will buy the needed accessories there, as well.

No matter what industry you work in, the key to doing well is to provide exemplary customer service and never talk in a negative way to your clients.  Many of my client companies have told me that they realize that they must aim to please no matter how small or how large the order is they are filling. Certainly, I was not the wealthiest client the first salesman has ever dealt with (far from it) but he had no way of knowing how many people I might be able to influence! I am not sharing the name of the firm with you as that is not my purpose but will never recommend them if anyone asks for my opinion off line!

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Harold Levin July 03, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Tammy, tried them previously and they were polite but did not have 'boring' enough styles for this old fashioned customer!
Kelly July 03, 2012 at 04:07 PM
In reading the description, I actually assumed we were talking about a place with a man's name. I have had awful experiences there myself. Another business where I feel looked down upon is when I need to get a new cell phone. I hate going to my carrier's store because I am treated like a barely-tolerated stepchild because I happen to prefer flip phones over all the fancy iPhone, Droid, etc. I have felt insulted on numerous (3 or 4) occasions by as many salespeople at two different locations when looking at phones. "Oh, NOBODY uses those anymore." "Really, the other phones are much more fashionable." What ever happened to the customer getting what he/she wants?
Harold Levin July 03, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Kelly, Your experience relates to many situations I have had including auto insurance, prescription plans, medical offices, banks, and companies who allegedly wish to use my expertise to hire people for their open needs. I can usually tell within 5 minutes if i will get the service I need or am better walking out (or hanging up) and trying a different option.
Liz Clark July 06, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Harold, thanks for sharing. I always enjoy reading your blogs and always find myself nodding in agreement. I am amazed by how little focus is placed on customer service these days. It drives me crazy when I see sales associates, or even check out people at the supermarket texting while they are working. As I begin to work to open my own business, I hope to instill the importance of customer service and no cell phones allowed while you are working. The employees full attention should be give to the customer not to their own social life.
Harold Levin July 06, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Liz, best of luck with your new business! One reason (not to mention the data charges) I still have my flip phone is I do not want to be distracted by a 'smart' phone that allows me to look at social media when I am in public. I have walked away from businesses who present themselves as disinterested in the customer!

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