Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Observations on Customer Service

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm sure I'll be writing more about seizures and other applicable neurological topics, but today's post is taking a different path.

Tex and I went to a Home and Garden Show over the weekend.   For the vast majority of our time, we really enjoyed ourselves.  We got ideas for future projects, chatted with different people and gave our legs some walking exercise.

There were two very glaring exceptions.  Both of these involved our stopping at booths to look at products.  In the first instance, the man approached us and asked if we wanted to buy such and such.  After Tex responded that we were just looking, the man immediately and angrily walked away.  Then, less that 3 feet from me, he told his co-worker - in words loud enough for me to hear, "Man, this day sucks.  Nobody's buying anything."

Hmmm . . .

The next exception to our wonderous stroll through the marketplace was somewhat similar, yet different at the same time.  I had stopped to look at a product that Tex and I have discussed purchasing sometime down the road - you know when it fits our budget priorities a bit better.  The man working the booth came up to me and asked if I was interested in making a purchase.  My response was, "Well, not today," and before I could even draw breath again to finish my sentence, the representative huffed and then walked away from me.  The rest of my sentence, "but this is something that we want to purchase in the future, and I have some questions to ask you" was left to swirl silently inside my thinker. 

At that point, both of these booths that we had stopped at were among the very first ones, and I was beginning to think that the entire show was going to be filled with rude and impatient sales people.  Fortunately (and for the most part), that proved to not be the case.


Let's examine both of the above examples, shall we?  You agree?  So do I!  Great minds - you and me.  :)

I'm sure that Tex and I were not the only people strolling around Market Hall last weekend who had not planned on making major purchases while attending the Home and Garden Show.  Many people go to these types of events to gain information and to tuck business cards and brochures away for when they're ready to buy whatever it is that caught their attention at the show. 

A good salesman will know this.  Sometimes the sale doesn't happen immediately.  Getting angry about it, walking away and then complaining to a co-worker within ear shot of potential customers is probably not the best way to make that customer their customer.

Tagging onto that, dismissing such a potential customer when they are in the middle of a sentence and thus shutting out any opportunity for the customer to ask questions about a product that they are genuinely interested in doesn't seem to be such an award-winning idea, neither. 

On the other hand, we had lovely conversations with the gregarious lady at Angie's List (who took a photo of Tex and me while I was wearing her very funky glasses and who also introduced me to Alegria shoes because I fell in love with her "Hippie Chic" Palomas), the friendly man at Cutco, the very entertaining man at VitaMix (who nicely listened to me ask about purchasing a dry container replacement and then cleverly incorporated my question into a public sales pitch), the great guys selling the trampoline, the man who let me ride his demo C.A.T. Scooter (oh man - fun - especially, when standing up!), the man who wittily intrigued us via remote control (as we were walking by) with his roof that resembles (and functions as) flat horizontal blinds, the very informative guys who were showcasing the slide-out cabinets, the nice flooring guy and last but not least, the very busy-yet-cheerful lady at the Sleep Number booth.

The majority of the 2+ hours that we spent at the Home & Garden Show was dispersed among the businesses I've mentioned above.  Yet, out of all that time and all those booths, we spent a whopping $11 (in addition to the admission tickets).  For the ultra curious, the $11 was for the sign-up fee for Angie's List. 

All of the other booths mentioned above?  They didn't make one red cent off of Tex and me this past weekend.  But.  They were so friendly and engaging and they made sure they answered our questions thoroughly and accurately.  That's the type of people that we do business with.  That's the type of people that we'll remember when it comes time to make future purchases.


One more example; simply because I've encountered this scenario more than once and I know of at least one other person, offline, as well.

A few weeks ago, Tex and I went to a birthday party that we had been invited to attend.  The party was held at one of the local steak restaurants.  The salmon listed on the menu intrigued me; and when it came my time to order, I asked the waitress if the salmon was marinated in soy (as many of y'all know, I don't do soy; it's a seizure trigger . . . and for those who yearn to learn, it's also a toxin pretty-much across the board).  When the waitress responded that the salmon was marinated in soy, I simply said, "Oh, never mind; I don't want that," and started to go on and order my "second choice".  Instead of accepting that I would know what I wanted (and did not want) to order, the waitress said, "Oh, but it's only a litte bit.  Trust me, you're going to love the salmon."  Without boring you with more of who said what, I'll tell you that I tried 2 more times to gently let her know that I didn't want the salmon, but she wouldn't listen to me and she kept trying to push the salmon.  Maybe it's her favorite dish at that restaurant.  Maybe her long-lost cousin from her mother's stepbrother's daughter's grandfather's side of the family was the salmon culinarian for that particular eating house.  Who knows?  But man, she was pushing that fish dish!  I finally had to very firmly tell her that I was not going to order the salmon.

I love wait staff and I always try to interact with them and let them know that I'm a friendly sort.  

I'd also like to take this moment, however, to suggest that if someone doesn't want to order a particular dish, then that should be that - without argument or efforts of persuasion; especially if the reason is because of a specific ingredient.  It's a food allergy world we live in today; and some allergies are much more dangerous than others.  One of my family members has a very serious milk allergy and even touching milk products (including) butter can sometimes cause a reaction severe enough to require a trip to the hospital.  Yet, time after time, when she has inquired about whether a particular menu item contained milk (and after telling them she has a milk allergy), the response she often gets is "Well, it's only a little bit."  Well, in her case, "only a little bit" could prove to be quite harmful.

Additionally.  Even if the reson for not ordering something is not allergy-related, it's really none of the server's business to question or to argue the decision.  There ya go.


I don't want to end this post on a negative note . . . and in reality, the intent of this entire post is not meant to be negative, but rather educational.  I haven't done a PEA (Public Education Announcement) in a while; let's consider this particular post to be one of those. 

My first thought, in bringing this blog post back to a positive outlook, was to list all of the above-mentioned friendly businesses' representatives and their contact information.  That may or may not be a good idea seeing as how I haven't asked their permissons to do such.  But!  I don't think there's any harm in at least re-listing the business themselves.  I encourage y'all to patronize these companies . . .

. . . Except, I wouldn't recommend that you play with your Cutco knives while riding on your C.A.T. Scooter; and remember, reserve the jumping for your SpringFree trampoline; not your Sleep Number bed.  There ya go.  :)

- Angie's List ("We're relentless when it comes to providing trusted reviews.")
- Cutco ("The World's Finest Cutlery)
- Equinox Louvered Roof ("Take Control of your Outdoor Living Space")

- Furniture "N" Floors, Inc.
- RBB Scooters (C.A.T. / Compact Adult Tricycles)
- ShelfGenie ("Designed to Transform")
- Sleep Number ("The only bed that knows you.")
- SpringFree Trampoline ("The World's Safest Trampoline")
- VitaMix ("Superior Nutrition in Every Blend")

Thanks for reading; happy shopping!
Y'all be blessed,

Please note that the parenthetical quotes listed next to each business were taken directly from the printed business cards or brochures supplied to us.  There.  I trust that I have sufficiently and legally covered my, uhm, posterior in case anyone disagrees with any of the quoted phrases.


  1. I wish you had posted the company names of the RUDE salespeople as well...

  2. Thanks for your comment - and thanks for reading "Swirlings"!
    I intentionally did not name the companies of the rude salespeople because I wanted to focus more on the friendly and helpful companies.