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Spaghetti Blog

Friday 22nd June 2018

Stop Wasting Money On Advertising – A Rant!

Wed 24th May 2017
By Jo

Last week Jo experienced some pretty poor customer service, so here she is to have a moan and offer some advice at the same time…

 

Stop Wasting Money On Advertising - A Rant!

 

Last week I had an hour to kill in Hatton while my Beagle was having a wash and groom by a lovely lady I found on Facebook. (Social media works!)

I decided to pop to Hatton Country World for a decaf tea and a waddle around (I’m 8 months pregnant so going nowhere fast).

Within Hatton Country World there is a Hatton Shopping Village, which is made of independent shops and boutiques. The centre and village does a fair bit of local advertising in the press and are well-known in the area. I wouldn’t like to speculate how much they spend getting people on to the site but it’s not going to be insignificant.

I arrived and had a mooch around a furniture and ‘bits and bobs’ shop. They had some quite nice home accessories and quirky stuff in there.

 

I saw a beautiful mirrored side table which would have looked lovely in our house. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy it…

Why?

Mirrored frame mirrorWell, the chap behind the counter had obviously spent money, time and effort laying out his shop and sourcing nice items to sell.

But he ruined the entire experience.

He didn’t say hello to me, in spite of me being the only one browsing. It doesn’t take much to smile and offer help. Even if I’m wearing tracksuit bottoms (did I mention my belly looks like I’ve eaten a small torpedo?) it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy something if I wanted to.

To add to the ‘welcoming’ ambiance, the whole place was littered with passive aggressive signage involving instructions. Shut the door. Don’t open the packet. Don’t touch that. Don’t sit on this chair. The signs were hand written and most weren’t even worded politely.

I felt like I was being told what to do everywhere I looked! It was unwelcoming and unhelpful. Not to mention unprofessional.

So I couldn’t buy the beautiful mirrored table as I can’t condone a crappy customer experience.

 

Following this I went for a cup of tea…

Cafe at Hatton Country WorldNow as I mentioned I’m 8 months pregnant and I’m hungry pretty much all the time. I can’t eat a huge amount as there’s not much room in there with everything squished up, but a girl has to snack.

I arrived to discover that the restaurant only serves breakfast from 10-11 and I arrived at 11.15 so I didn’t even bother asking if they would do anything about that. I got the feeling it would have blown their minds to even ask.

I looked at the lunch menu and chose something gluten free I could manage. When I went to order it she said no because they don’t serve lunch until 11.30. That would be another 15 minutes.

I said, “OK I understand. What would you suggest a hungry pregnant lady can eat before 11.30?” She looked very confused and didn’t have any ideas.

Eventually a supervisor rescued her by saying the soup was ready and I could have that. (Because it didn’t involve any effort from them.)

I also had a cuppa and I’m 90% sure they forgot to give me soya milk as it smelt like cow’s milk, so I didn’t drink that as I’m dairy intolerant. If I were allergic this would have been potentially quite serious but I let it lie.

I won’t keep moaning about the finer details, but you get the idea.

The staff even have ‘Have a great day’ written on the back of their branded polo shirts. It would be easier to have a great day if they cared enough to contribute towards it.

 

Yes I’m a perfectionist, but here’s my issue:

The message and the experience just don’t match up, leaving a bad taste in the mouth which wasn’t just the soup. There was a huge gap between promises and actions.

 

So my message is this: if you’re in a business and you care, here’s my advice…

(And if you’re in business and you don’t care, maybe consider doing something else!)

 

  • 1) Make sure everyone else cares too – especially the less well-paid, customer-facing employees. They’re the ones who need a bit of savvy and some training to make sure they’re reacting the right way and helping customers. They’re the ones who leave the customer with a positive or negative impression.
  • 2) Enable them to show they care by giving them flexibility to serve their customers how they should. I doubt the big bosses care whether their staff serve something a few minutes early or late. Can you do any mystery shopping in your business? Do it! Get some honest answers from people interacting with your business at every touchpoint.
  • 3) Smile at your customers!  It’s a very basic human need to connect to others. If you appear friendly and approachable people will be more likely to ask questions or start conversations.
  • 4) Use positive language. Someone using negative language would say, “We can’t or don’t do that, or we don’t have that item in stock.” Someone using positive language would say, “That product will be available next month. I can put your order through for you right now and make sure it’s sent to you as soon as it comes in.” What a difference that makes!
  • 5) Look for opportunities to help. Offer to be around if your customers have any questions or need any help. And don’t automatically assume they don’t want to spend money. A chap in Homebase who was helping me with some wardrobe handles (oh what an exciting life I lead) ruled out a packet of handles because they cost a bit more. I was happy to pay for them if they looked nice and did the job.
  • 6) Continually try to improve your customer service. Customer service can be nothing more than a means to an end, or it can be a dynamic aspect of your whole business. Engaging customers and helping them get the most out of your product or service will give them a reason to tell others why they love your company. And we all know that’s a good thing.
  • Oh, and 7) Don’t tell a heavily pregnant woman she can’t eat. It’s just not a good idea. 😉

 

Update!

On my way back to the car I popped back into the furniture shop and smiled at the man because I wanted to give him a second chance. I figured maybe I caught him at a bad time previously. Maybe he was just busy putting stock away. While in there I took a couple of photos for this blog and a photo of the table I liked. I thought perhaps he might realise I was interested in the table or at least ask if he could help.

But no.

He actually stopped me and got quite verbally aggressive. He asked me why I was taking photos of the signs. I explained I had taken a few photos of some things I liked but he kept asking why I took photos of the signs. Well, Mr Friendly, it’s because I wanted to use you as an example of what NOT to do when you run a small business.

And you’re an arse. I really wanted that bloody table.

If I’d been feeling braver I’d have entered into a discussion with him as I genuinely want to help small businesses, but no.

So let me know…

… Am I the only one who has high standards and expects polite customer service?

Do you buy from people who fall short of your standards?

I’d love to know your experiences in the comments below.


Tags associated with this article

Jo

Copywriter at Spaghetti Agency, helping small businesses get found online. Furmummy to a Beagle and a Chihuahua.

25 comments on this article

  • Georgi Curtis at 15:17pm on May 24th 2017

    Hi Jo, you’re definitely not the only one who has high standards. Like you say, it doesn’t take much to say hello and stop talking to a colleague about what they had for tea, or what happened on East Enders, to acknowledge customers. And some shops really need customers to walk through the door and also return again and tell their friends about the shop. Of course, they won’t take the blame when their business fails!

    If they’re not very keen on people then they shouldn’t be in retail!

    Georgi

    1. Jo at 20:04pm on May 24th 2017

      Thanks for your comment, Georgi.

      Perhaps some people don’t realise how much of an effect it can have. With social media and our connected world you’re never just talking to one customer – you’re talking to their hundreds of friends and connections, too.

      I do leave positive reviews and comments for all the good experiences I have so hopefully people won’t mind me letting off a bit of steam this time!

      Very good point about needing to like people to work in retail. It’s not gonna be for everyone!

  • Nickie at 15:22pm on May 24th 2017

    You have just summed up why I don’t go to Hatton Country World anymore.. so no if the customer service isn’t there then I tend not to buy (unless I really really really want the product). And being pregnant is not a factor…even though I’m 71/2 months gone!

    1. Jo at 20:05pm on May 24th 2017

      Wow, really? I had no idea it had a bad reputation for customer service.

      I should point out that I go to Adara Beauty which is based on site and they’re FANTASTIC. Couldn’t be more lovely and helpful. Perhaps I’ll update the blog to include a hat-tip to them.

      Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, birth, and beyond!

  • Julie Richards at 15:27pm on May 24th 2017

    Love your rant, Jo.
    I almost had an embarrassing moment last week when I thought I was being ignored by two assistants who were having a chat. Turns out one of them was a customer who just happened to be wearing the same colour as their uniform. Luckily I stopped myself before I launched into full rant at them

    1. Jo at 20:06pm on May 24th 2017

      Haha now that would have been a bit embarrassing!

      Thanks for your comment.

  • nicki curwood at 15:29pm on May 24th 2017

    Great article…..I totally agree with everything you’ve said! Polite customer service is my minimum expectation, that should just be a given, they shouldn’t even have to think about that!! And what’s with the rude signage? It’s like yelling “get outta my shop!” And don’t get me started on serving food outside of regimented hours…..I was refused food at 8.15pm in a pub restaurant because they were too busy (with the 10 people already eating)…..I returned at 8.45pm to order and was told they had closed for food orders…… Will I return? No! Will I tell at least 9 other people – hell yes!! And that’s without being 8 months pregnant!!!

    1. Jo at 20:10pm on May 24th 2017

      Thank you Nicki.

      I don’t think people realise the impact one customer can have when they’re not treated nicely. With social media and our connected world you’re not talking to one customer any more – you’re talking to hundreds or thousands. I try to leave positive reviews when I’ve had a good experience to keep things balanced. There are a lot of small businesses doing really well locally so it’s good to shout about them – but a girl has to have the occasional rant!

    1. Jo at 20:07pm on May 24th 2017

      Frustrating as I’d love to be able to help!

  • Jill at 16:40pm on May 24th 2017

    Great article Jo. I agree warmth, engaging conversation, smiling, reminding people that your real, that your there to help not irritate are all good signs of real service. What does 15 minutes over or before really mean when your an SME? Surely the shining service is what makes your unique, special and brings the customer back. Good luck with the next month of your pregnancy

    1. Jo at 20:02pm on May 24th 2017

      Thanks Jill. That’s what I think although I realise it’s not always easy. I wonder if I’ll still rant after the baby’s born?!

  • Lisa at 16:55pm on May 24th 2017

    Oh no Jo that’s awful I totally agree with you and I know exactly which furniture shop you mean! I think this should be twitted big time!!!

    1. Jo at 20:01pm on May 24th 2017

      I wonder whether he’ll ever see it? I don’t want it to be a personal attack but perhaps if he knew how off-putting it was he might change a little?

  • Lisa at 16:57pm on May 24th 2017

    Oops I’ve just tweeted it

    1. Todd at 20:31pm on May 24th 2017

      Hahaha… *Oops I RT’d that*

  • Geraldine at 19:27pm on May 24th 2017

    Rock on Jo! I couldn’t agree more.

    A simple hello & welcoming smile cost nothing but they make a HUGE difference. I always try to do that when I’m doing my fortnightly volunteering stint at The Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth, although some people do look a bit scared when I pop up from behind a bookcase to say hello!

    We’ve certainly walked away from potential sales (including a car no less – looking at you Drive Vauxhall!) because of poor customer service. So it really does matter.

    1. Jo at 20:00pm on May 24th 2017

      Yes a hello and a smile is literally all you need. That and not scaring the customers who don’t know you’re there. 😉

      Oh I’ve just bought a new car and would love to blog about my experiences at different Mazda garages but I shouldn’t rant any more! (The place I eventually went to was fantastic but it was very hit and miss.)

  • Claire at 19:35pm on May 24th 2017

    I know exactly which shop you are referring to! I have also been in there a few times admiring the items in there (there is actually some really good stuff in there) and felt the miserable atmosphere put me off buying anything. The guy who runs it is virtually ruining his own business with his attitude.
    I too gave him a second chance, us women like to do that, but no there won’t be a third time!! It only takes a smile!

    1. Jo at 19:59pm on May 24th 2017

      Wow OK so it wasn’t just an off-day then! It’s a real shame. I want to help but you can only help people who want it!

  • Jo at 7:51am on May 25th 2017

    I have to agree with Claire, I have been before and had the same reaction, Jo. Unfortunately, it seems that is just the norm. Such a shame.

  • fiona at 18:31pm on May 25th 2017

    Hi Jo,
    Great rant but a shocking experience in not one but two places one after the other…????!! I really don’t understand businesses who cannot get the customer service element right. Its simple, its good manners, that’s all it takes but I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks these are in short supply. A lack of intelligence and lack of manners.
    Good luck with the last month!

  • Vikie Shanks at 8:50am on May 26th 2017

    Bless you Jo! I totally agree with you, customer service is everything and when we ran our corporate entertainment business we made sure that our front line staff were top notch and paid accordingly. Sadly, the guy you mention above is probably the shop owner, a business he probably shouldn’t be in if he can’t relate to his customers in an appropriate way. I wonder how much more successful his business would be if he took a leaf out of the Spaghetti Agency book? xx

  • Claire at 18:40pm on June 2nd 2017

    I always choose where I shop and eat based on the friendliness of the staff. I try to use an independent retailer/eatery over a chain, but I never go back if I’m made to feel unwelcome. A smile and a hello makes a huge difference! So I think your rant was totally justified.

  • Victoria Webb at 19:30pm on June 25th 2017

    Arrgghhhh I am a real stickler for good customer service. I am more than happy to pay over the odds when someone’s customer service is good.

    We have recently undertaken a huge renovation of our home and we only chose tradespeople and retailers based on their responses when we called/emailed/visited. We were shocked and disappointed at the amount of crap customer service there is out there.

    And Hatton? Don’t even get me started! Once you’ve had baby don’t ever try getting a child’s meals from the Spinning Jenny. They don’t do them. You’re expected to take your child into the farm and use the children’s restaurant for them, only ever serving pizza and chips (I’m pretty sure they share a kitchen due to the location of the two restaurants so it would have been easy for them to even suggest we order the child’s food but eat it in their cafe) Our son is gluten free due to coeliac and they wouldn’t do a thing for us. He was also starving (he’s 2) and they couldn’t have cared less. They were clearly mind boggled that we’d even dared to ask them to make a concession. Nothing! I complained and they couldn’t care less. I wrote on social media, on their own page. Nothing! Not a thing. Poor poor service.

    Here’s hoping you enjoy your last month of pregnancy!

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