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Stop Wasting Money On Advertising – A Rant!
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…
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…
Well, 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…
Now 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. 😉
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.
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.
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