Category Archives: Customer Service

Why Is Politeness So Rare That It Needs To Be Rewarded?

I visited the juice bar at the mall today. I got there at closing time and  the attendants were taking the final orders for the day and had started cleaning the machines.

I love nothing better than to boost my fruit and veggie juice with wheatgrass but today they had started cleaning that particular machine already.

The cashier called out to me with her hand outstretched. As I got closer I saw she was trying to give me money. It was the difference for the wheatgrass she couldn’t supply me with and the rest of the juice. She explained that she couldn’t give me wheatgrass because the machine was being cleaned for the day. I was ok with that, accepted the money and told her that it was fine. I worked as a cashier at department store in my student days so I know what it is like to face the public on a daily basis, not being sure how they will react to an unmet expectation.

She was quite surprised at my reaction (or lack thereof) and as she handed me my juice, gave me a voucher for a free wheatgrass booster the next time I come around. This surprised me because there was absolutely no need to do this.

“Oh, you don’t have to do this, I understand.” I said.

“But many people don’t, and you have been so understanding that I want to give you this voucher as a thank you,” she said.

I was touched by the gesture and upset that there are people who will argue over a small thing as not getting wheatgrass in their juice.

Being polite and considerate should be part of our default setting as human beings. Why is it so rare that it needs to be rewarded?


Next To Nothing

The collection of personal information by all shops I enter is astounding!

Almost all have a card of some sort: loyalty card, points card, discount card, the options are many. I have 4 airline voyager-type cards, my points are so scattered that any attempt at redeeming and getting value out of them is next to nothing. Actually, it is nothing!

While in Portugal, without exception as I get to the cashier to pay I get asked if I have their loyalty card. When I say no, they ask me if I want one. The answer is always no. I come here once a year so that any chance of getting any value out of such cards is next to nothing. Actually, it IS nothing!

In the queue of a sweltering book shop the cashier asked the person in front of me if he had a card. He said yes but didn’t have it with him. So she proceeded to ask him pertinent information to search for his card number on her system. This took a while as I stood in the queue feeling drops of perspiration snake down my back.

Then came my Mom’s turn to pay. The cashier asked if she had a card. My Mom said no. She then asked if my Mom wanted one. My Mom said yes as she buys a lot from them even though it is only once a year. The cashier then proceeded to collect my Mom’s personal information. This took time. In the sweltering shop it felt like forever.

The rewards offered by these cards are paltry compared to the amount of money you have to spend to get something back. And all the while you get spam SMSs and email offering you all sorts of things you would not take up in a million years.

I worked for a telemarketing company early in my career. Out of each campaign that ran if 10% of the leads generated converted to a sale then it was deemed to be successful. The same applied to mail drops. So I guess that if they get a 10% response out of each promo campaign they’re happy. Not at all like shooting fish in a barrel…or maybe it is…where the fish are tiny tiny goldfish.

I do not have issue with such cards – back in South Africa I have many and sometimes I get something out. I get them just to make the cashier happy. Maybe she gets assessed on how many cards she gets out. As as it does not cost me to have the card. Oh wait…?!? It does cost me to have these cards. Not in money but in the inconvenience of spam communications. It costs to opt-out. And what do I get out of them? Next to nothing! Actually, it is NOTHING!

Do you get anything out of such reward systems?

Customer Service

You may remember that number 1 on my #10thingsilove post was girl Saturdays with my friends, trawling the shops and eating good food. Well, this week it happened today, Sunday :-).

It was equally pleasant, perhaps more so because the malls were not madly hectic like the are on a Saturday. The only downside is that the shops close at 3pm. The upside of this downside is that the bank balance doesn’t suffer so much – so there’s a strategy!

I had a really nice experience at Woolies. Completely unaware of the time, I went to Woolies in Glenvista and as I walked up they started to close the doors. I was about to turn around when the floor manager called over and invited me in. She said she’d close after me. I was sooo gratelful that I left a compliment on Hello Peter. Well worth doing when one gets a good experience or even one that wasn’t so good. Today it was a compliment.

South Africa is not a place where customer service is high on the agenda, and we often put up with bad service for fear of being victimised (not complaining when the food at a restaurant is cold or something, for fear that the waiter will spit into it), or getting into an argument with someone who really should not be facing the public.

In the last 3 months I have got really good service at 3 different places (sad to say that it was only 3 places in 3 months, it should be much more) – on 2 of those occasions I left compliments on Hello Peter. But I didn’t leave the corresponding complaints when I got poor service.

Well, you know about the Woolies one. The other was at Big Boy Scooters when I bought my pitbike. My warranty hadn’t been loaded on their system so I was not able to activate it online. Frustrating because I had to activate it within 48 hrs or so or risk losing it. They were very efficient and I complimented them on Hello Peter.

The other good experience was at Pick and Pay (I know…can you believe it?). Our Pick and Pay has a self-service veggie weighing machine. It works well. But when the label roll is finished it is a bummer. Ok, so I decided to do the rest of my shopping and come back to it at the end and let someone else go to the manager to sort it out. After 30 mins the machine was still inactive. I know I should’ve sorted it out 30 mins before, it doesn’t pay to pass the buck. In this case, the manager came and changed the label roll himself. I was most impressed.

As consumers we have the power to influence the service we get. It requires work. Not accepting below standard service. And complimenting when the service was really good. It will eventually reach a tipping point and good service will become the norm not the exception so that it even becomes a blog post.

Have you ever logged a compliment and complaint on Hello Peter?

Do you give feedback when the service sucked wasn’t so good?

Do you compliment good service?