Does ANYONE offer decent customer service?

First of all, @&%*#$% Philips Electronics customer support.
(see my Better Business Bureau topic in GQ for details)

But before this gets shuffled off to BBQ Pit, let me ask you all this- Where have you found decent customer service, be it phone support, retail returns, or what have you? Anyone ever go out of their way to help?
I’m not looking for the basic you returned it under the 30 day limit, so I’l begrudgingly return your money stuff. I’m looking for decent human civility in a retail sense.
Does it exist and where have you found it?

Customer service is the backbone of any business and I don’t think people are taught this anymore. We have training programs for jobs but don’t train our employees how to deal with people. A little common courtesy goes a long way when dealing with the public.

Few places can actually claim good customer service. I’ve always been treated nicely by the salespeople at Nordstrom. I suppose I should also mention Maureen at the Book Case bookstore. She loans me audio books when I go on trips instead of making me buy or rent them. Her son, Rob also deserves mention. I was looking for an old book that wasn’t published anymore and although they didn’t have, he told me he’d keep an eye out for it. Several months went by and one day when I stopped in, he pulled the book out from behind the counter. I only mentioned the book one time so I was pretty impressed that he remembered.

I do. I offer decent customer service. It seems I actually like helping people. Which comes as quite a surprise to me as I’ve always considered myself a misanthrope.

I do, and so do most of the people I work with. Of course I, like Maureen , work in a bookstore. So I guess the answere to your question so far is :

In bookstores.

(But then bookstores offer some sort of job satifaction beyond what most retail work would. It’s not terribly surprising that people paid just above minimume wage, with little or no benefits and no particular prospects would not be that concerned about the backbone of the business.)

What a truly excellent topic. We usually only hear negative rants about service people. I’m working part-time in retail whilst I go back to college. Guess what, even us service people experience bad service sometimes! I think that I offer service way above what my meager pay is. It’s just my ethic to do a good job. But I’ve certainly had my moments. NO ONE, no matter how friendly, is immune from having unpleasantness with a customer. So, to answer your question, I offer decent customer service. I’d like to pay a compliment to the guys in the pizzeria down the block. No matter how crowded the place is, service is fast and I have never ever seen any of them lose their temper.

in a business, decent human civility has to come from the top down. the chain gets broken way before the customer interaction level. you don’t have a chance. also, people take retail positions to repay karmic debt, and get annoyed if you try to be friendly. they won’t work down the karmic principal unless they are dealing successfully with total asses.

it’s kind of a voodoo ethics. supply side civilty- go ahead and just be a total bastard. it’s the grease of advanced capitalism.


I have found that by being friendly to whomever is providing me a service, I get better service. It is a simple an often overlooked approach that truly works.

If I get good service, I will let someone know that I get good service. For example, if I get great service over the phone, I have made it a habit to take a few extra seconds to say something like “You have been very helpful to me, may I speak to your manager to let them know you are wonderful?” I use the same approach in retail establishments, restaurants, etc. The time is well spent because the person who helped me will have a better day and continue to provide great service, knowing that it is being recognized, plus, I go away from it in a positive frame of mind, knowing that I may have just made someone’s day.

As for recent experiences where I received god service, Sprint PCS recently rectified a problem on my mobile phone service. They were prompt, friendly, and courteous, and I let them know it was appreciated.

Leading Comics here in Edmonton is pretty good. Ron, the owner, will bend over backwards to get you what you need. He’ll also hold stuff for you until you can get some cash. Also the staff at the Great Reads bookstores here are very friendly and accomodating, and will hold books indefinitely.

Before I escaped to my wonderful computer programming job, I used to work in customer service.

I made it a point to try to help the customer as much as possible. In other words, if we had a 30 day return policy and the customer called us on day 40, I tried to find every possible avenue to help the customer.

I had one simple rule : Your claim must be logical and reasonable.

For example: About four years ago, I had a customer who bought a scanner from us but found that the software was only available on CD and her (old) Macintosh didn’t have a CD-ROM drive. She was a bit over the 30 day limit, but the machine was unused, she was willing to accept store credit (rather than demanding a refund) and I was more than helpful to accomodate her.

Another customer bought a laptop (laptops, once turned on, are no longer returnable unless defective) from us. After about a week he wanted to return it. Why? His kid cut the power cord. I offered to try to get him a new power cord, but he wanted to return the whole machine! No way, I told him. If his only concern was the power cord being cut, why wouldn’t he accept a new power cord? My theory is that he wanted to return the machine for whatever reason and was using the power cord as an excuse. Needless to say, I didn’t do much for the customer. Especially after he started cursing at me.

Another customer called one January to return something he bought for his granddaughter for Christmas, since it was defective. I asked the gentleman his order number and as soon as he said it, I knew the order was from three years earlier. I asked him when he bought it, and he told me that he bought it three years earlier. I asked him why he was first giving it to his granddaughter now, and he told me that only now was she old enough to appreciate it. I explained to him that while I understood his point, after three years of the item sitting in his closet, there was no way we could take it back. He was nice about it and understood, but the request was not reasonable.

Another customer called us and wanted to buy a battery for his camcorder as his had gone dead after a year or two of use (as often happens). We informed him that we did not have the batteries in stock, but we gave him the telephone number for Sony (who manufactured his camcorder) and suggested maybe he could buy it directly from them. He called back about twenty minutes later and said that Sony was behind production on them and would not have one to sell him for a month or two. I told him that I understood that, but we still didn’t have any to sell him (if Sony didn’t have them, we sure weren’t going to get any soon). At that point he demanded that we then take back the camcorder. Of course, I refused. He demanded to speak to my supervisor, and I refused again. I told him very simply that we’re not obligated to carry every accessory for every item we ever carried in perpetuity. Needless to say, I didn’t do too much for him either.

One time, a customer wanted to return something because the salesman misinformed him of a product’s feature. The bad part was that the item was well over six months old. It would be near impossible to take it back at that point. However, the customer did have a reasonable claim. He calmly explained that when he bought the item, he would need it to be compatible with another unit that he was going to buy in the future. He now bought the other unit and found that the first one was not compatible with it. After confirming this with the salesperson, I went to bat for the customer, even though the order was well past our 30 day return limit. It took some fast talking on my part, but eventually I was able to swing an exchange for a compatible unit by my manager and everyone was happy. The customer had a legitimate claim and didn’t make a jerk of himself during the call. So, for him, I went to the mat.

Anyway, my apologies for the length of the post, but you can get the gist of my feelings on customer service.

Zev Steinhardt

I get great service at the local Best Buy. I’m not all that computer literate, even though I operate one, so when I am in there I always get good answers to my questions, and they don’t laugh or even smirk at how silly some of the questions are. When I bought my current set-up the young man who served me was good-natured and humorous. I spoke with the manager before I left and compimented the other guy’s service and he told me something that made me almost cry. Just a week before one of the store clerks had been killed by lightening in Colorado, and he and the employee that had waited on me had been best friends, like brothers. And here he was, still being good, and not letting his grief mar the service he was giving. I ended up making a contribution to the memorial fund for the deceased.

The best local store for camera equipment is Wolfe’s. The have long time experienced help that never seems to be too busy to stop and answer questions. Once I took in my camera to have it looked at because the film was not advancing properly. The guy examined the camera and gave it back to me. He said, without a trace of a laugh, that the film was at it’s end. I was so stupid that I had forgotten that it was a 12-exp reel, not my usual 24. Duh!

Nordstrom’s is outstanding, though their prices are generally high.

Worst in my experience? Best Buy (the computer dudes seem a tad shady), Radio Shack (obnoxious), and Circuit City (everyone seems shady).

I give good customer service. As good as I can.

I work in a call centre for a bank, where people call us up to get information and do transactions on their account. In my opinion, our whole raison d’etre (sp?) is to do what they want unless it is impossible or unreasonable.

I will go out of my way to try and find a solution, either look for other options, or liase with other departments to see what can be done. I will call people back when I have found out what they need to know. I’m like a dog with a bone when I get a problem. Not happy until I have the answer. (apart from anything, I want to know in case anyone else asks me)

It is even possible to turn around complaints if you listen well, answer their questions and do as much as you can. This has happened to me many times.

Mostly it goes unnoticed cause we are targetted on sales and number of calls taken, not the quality of service.

I work for a swish catering company and we give good service.
Each time, every time.

Of course our events run $40,000 and up. But we do it all.

Everybody in the city knows it will be great, they know how outrageous our prices are, but the truth is that there is little competition if you can guarantee the service.

I can’t really begin to impress upon you the level of service we deliver.

The short answer is you get what you pay for, but good service is still something that many people are dedicated to.

Well, as several people have said already, I give good customer service. I’d lose my job if I didn’t.

But where have I gotten good service? Some suprising places, actually. In fast food restaurants, for one thing. Also, the local “everything for a buck” store. I had a clerk come and help me look for a particular pattern of Christmas wrapping paper through about 6 boxes just because she was being nice. I didn’t ask her to help, she just did. Gotten good service from AT&T Wireless reps. Got good service from a Best Buys helpline rep (and crappy service in the store.)

I also find, though, that I get friendly helpful service when I am friendly and courteous myself. You give them attitude, you’re likely to get attitude right back!

Trouble, the last point you made in your post holds very true. I always do my utmost to provide good customer service at all times. The customers who are a pleasure to serve are the ones who get real red-carpet treatment. But if someone comes in with an attitude, I’ll go out of my way to do the bare minimum for them. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say I enjoy pissing these guys off :smiley:

As for places who give good customer service - we have a chain of stores in the UK called John Lewis (similar to Sears), and I’ve never found anywhere like it when it comes to service. They’ll bend over backwards to help in any way they can, and it’s almost impossible to find anyone offering lower prices than they do. Needless to say, if I can get it from them, that’s where I go to buy it.

Also, I think my local Kirby office gives great service. Any time I order parts from them, the guy gets straight into his car to drop them off at my house within the hour. They also picked up, repaired and dropped off my vacuum in a single afternoon, and gave it a tune-up and polish free of charge, without being asked. Very impressive service, which has resulted in me recommending them to others. Companies reap what they sow, after all.

Our store offers excellent customer service most of the time. We’re a mid-sized natural foods store just minutes away from a large Whole Foods store. If we didn’t offer excellent service, we’d be out of business.

That said, it’s very difficult to get good people in the current economy. Pay is low, after all our prices have to be somewhere close to the big chain store or we’d also go out of business. Profit margins are a lot smaller than I’d like to see.

If the economy continues to be strong I predict customer service to good people will still survive. But at $6.00/hr it’s hard to get good people to tolerate rudeness and poor behavior from customers. As a manager, I know we need rude people’s money. But most of those $6.00/hr employees draw the line a lot tighter than they used too. I try to get them to understand that it is in their long-term best interest to tolerate customer rudeness. Some listen.

Boy, Ying vs yang here in Tacoma - I can go to Safeway, where corporate imposed a “smile at the customer and ask them how they are - or else!” policy (which lead to the female employees being propositioned more often). Or I can go to Red Apple. In nearby Seattle the customers staged a “near-riot” when a larger conglomerate bought out and replaced the Queen Anne Red Apple. I went to my local store yesterday. The manager opened a register with the announcement “come on down! The price is wrong!” He then asked the cashier, in full presence of us the esteemed customer, if it had been busy that day. She answered, right in front of esteemed us “Hell yes! It’s like every grandma got her hair done and did her grocery shopping all at once!” (BTW - old people shopping at grocery stores are like the proverbial truckers eating at diners - a sign that you’re getting good value). I’m more comfortable with human beings. I can argue with them, and if I’m right I can prevail without having to mail in a thousand forms. If I’m wrong they’ll win graciously, and not with an impersonal smirk.
Try this on a desering sales clerk some time: say “I hate my corporation, and I’m taking it out on the customers.” Say it in as clear and even a voice as you can, and without moving your lips if possible, as if it was some voice-over. Then look at them as if no-one had said anything. I guarantee a classic deer in the headlights moment.

One of our local grocery stores is excellent, so we patronize it although its selection isn’t as good as the bigger chains. The lines rarely get long, cashiers are always friendly, stocking staff ask if you need help, etc. And people seem HAPPY to work there, which makes such a huge difference, one that seems lost on too many retail places.

Also, our local Target store is excellent. Same thing: the staff seem happy, and there are enough of them to keep the place running smoothly.

I had a stellar experience on ComAir (small airline connected with Delta). I was flying to Raleigh (with one stop) to meet friends, who were then driving me down to Myrtle Beach with them the next day. We had one of those sketchy-weather days where we weren’t sure when they’d let us take off. Instead of keeping us prisoner on the plane on the tarmac, they let anyone deplane who wanted to (even though this meant several special trips for the gate agent, since people changed their minds), kept us very well informed as to the latest status, explained why it was important to stick close to the gate so we could take off quickly if things changed, etc. That in itself was a shocker. When we finally got to the hub city, I’d missed the last flight to Raleigh, meaning I had to spend the night and change my ticket to fly to Myrtle Beach the next morning. I stopped an off-duty gate agent to ask where the main customer service desk was simply so I could avoid the long line at the arrival gate. He said, “Here, why don’t I just help you?”, found a terminal, fired it up, and started solving my problems. He even called ahead to make sure a hotel shuttle would wait for me to get on it. That whole ComAir experience changed my mind about airlines, making me think there might be hope for the industry after all.

I know I’ve had some great service every once in a while at almost any place you can mention - but consistency is key. My favorite is my local supermarket. I live in Chelsea, New York City, which has gentrified rapidly. Most of the supermarkets have been busy renovating, which just means that you pay an extra 10% to buy the same crappy food from the same bored, grumpy people. But there’s one dumpy, old-fashioned supermarket left, and it provides the best service of all. The manager is just fantastic - he runs a tight ship, and he seems to inspire his employees to have the most consistently cheerful attitude of anyone around. What I really love is that he always has lots of checkers so the lines stay short. I just hope the store has a long lease.

I’ve recieved absolutely wonderful customer service from Samsung Computers. I bought a desktop computer from them a while back. Although I’ve found Samsung systems to be usually quite reliable, this one was a complete lemon. At least once a month the serviceman would have to come over to my house to try and fix the problem he thought he fixed last time. I was never charged anything for these service calls. After about a year of this, the company gave up. I was given a complete refund of the purchase price of my computer and told to give the poor thing a decent burial.

I used my refund to buy a new computer- again, a Samsung Magic Station. For the same amount of money I could afford a much better system this time. The service man installed the DVD-ROM and the TV card from the old computer into this one. I’ve never had any problems with this computer.

Of course, Samsung service might not be so good outside of Korea.

When traveling abroad: American Express
Financial: USAA, The Vanguard Group
Insurance: USAA