Customer Service

Well it’s Christmas time and what does the song say “the most wonderful time of the year”! Well, I do like Christmas and I do enjoy getting together with family and friends and I can say it is defiantly a busy time of the year.

I should put a warning here, this is a longer than usual post and something I need to get off my chest.

One thing I have noticed though, and maybe it’s just me, is that customer service, I mean true customer service, seems to be a thing of the past. I’m not saying there isn’t any customer service out there however it is lack luster and tinged with whatever it takes to just get by so that the person doesn’t get a bad review. Not sure if this is even making sense. I guess what I am trying to say is that what I have been experiencing lately is like a 2.5 star service out of a potential 5. The service is there, it’s not horrible, at least not horrible enough to sit down and right a bad review although maybe I should, but the person serving doesn’t bother to even try for that 5 star service or even go the extra mile.

This isn’t just in one store although I will site an experience shortly, I am actually experiencing this all over, especially when the person doing the serving is under 30. Am I just getting old? Maybe. Am I prejudiced? Maybe, after all I have been in customer service in one way or another for the past 38 years. Maybe I am just more aware of lackluster performance these days. I am aware that whatever you put your attention to manifests but I can’t say I actually go looking for lackluster performance.

The one example I have that really stands out for me was at Optiks International at Uptown Mall here in Victoria BC. I was in need of a new pair of glasses so I decided to do a Groupon where I got good savings on my frames. The first time I walked into the store I received service. The young girl was pleasant, answered my questions however was not about to go out of her way to actually walk around and help me pick out a frame. I was by myself and can’t see without my glasses so I decided to come back another time when I had someone with me. The place was not busy by the way. I would place the customer service at a 2 star level.

The second time going back I got a pleasant young man who really did try his best. It was obvious he didn’t have complete knowledge of what he was doing but he did try his best and went out of his way to be helpful. I can’t ask for more than that. Yesterday afternoon I went and picked up the glasses as I got a call they were ready. This time it was a different young girl again. (Honestly I was in there three times and didn’t see the same staff members once). The girl brought out the glasses to me. Now Optiks International do a two for one deal and I decided to get a pair of sunglasses for my second pair of glasses.

Here’s where the real lackluster customer service starts! When I looked at the second pair they weren’t sunglasses as I asked. She went and checked and sure enough there had been a mistake made. No apology was made however she did say they would fix it. No problem really as I didn’t need the sunglasses at this time. (Good thing I wasn’t going away somewhere warm for Christmas). I wasn’t thrilled about the whole thing and thought maybe I would just keep the second pair as is. Here is where things got interesting. She said I could do that but what about the additional $42.00 I had spent on getting the sunglasses. Excuse me!? What additional $42.00?

Oh well, you know the $42.00 mentioned here on this little piece of paper (which I had never seen before). So I asked, OK, if I do this will I get that money back. “Oh I don’t know I need to go and ask.”

Now for the even worse lackluster customer service. A young man comes and sits down in front of me. This man does not introduce himself, does not smile or have any pleasantries at all, and absolutely no apology. In fact both this young man and the young woman BOTH intimated that it was MY fault that I didn’t know about the extra charge? I am not kidding here this actually happened.

In fact this young man was border line rude. I finally said look I asked if I could have the second pair made into sunglasses and I was told of course. At no time was I told yes you can however there is an additional $42.00 charge. Now I more than likely would have paid the fee but for full disclosure, I should have been told.

Again, no apology, none, he pointed to a little tiny piece of paper and said well that is why we right it down on this slip of paper so you know. Ah, excuse me? First I had never seen that paper before and second like the customer is going to know what that is unless it is explained to them. This young man was kidding right?! Alas unfortunately no, he wasn’t kidding and the absolute sad fact in all of this is that it turns out he was a manager.

I finally explained to him nicely and with a smile how he should have handled the situation, and I also said he should always smile. To his credit he did smile then, he had a beautiful smile. Do you know what he said!!?? He said that people were always telling him he needed to smile more often.

OK this was a young man in customer service who was a manager who was told by many and his customers that he should smile more. Seriously! What is wrong with this picture folks! If he is the manager and his performance was less than sterling how on earth can one expect the employees under him to be any better. Now I don’t blame the original young man who helped me at all. He truly was helpful and doing his best and I could tell he was somewhat new to the whole thing. The young girl and this manager yesterday were so far off base as to what good customer service is and how to rectify a problem that they both need serious customer service training 101.

The number one rule in customer service is that the customer is always right even when they are wrong! How does this work? If the customer is right and the employee made the mistake then the customer should ALWAYS get an apology. If however the customer is actually wrong, you can show empathy and be sympathetic and listen to the customer without actually saying you’re sorry. It’s tricky but it does work. You will find more often than not the customer just wants to be heard. However at NO time, and I mean NO time do you ever blame the customer or say that the customer should have known!! It shouldn’t even be hinted at!! Not even a little bit.


Well, that was a bit of a rant but on a better note I did receive wonderful customer service at Save-on-Foods at Tillicum Mall while going through the checkout yesterday after the glasses incident. That made my day and finished my errands on a high note. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name. Isn’t that always the way. I will have to look for her next time I am in the store and make a point of saying thank-you.

So what about you, is it just me, did I just get someone having a bad day? Has anyone else experienced lackluster customer service these days?

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