I work in retail, and I believe that no matter the price of the product the customer service should be a part of the concept, as a wrapper for a gift. I also believe that most expect that the higher the price of the product, the higher the quality of the customer service, right? It isn’t easy selling the price, and only good customer service and a good feel for the customers’ wants and needs can make a customer buy something sometimes 100 times more expensive than it’s cheapest competitors’ substitute. Then again you should never underestimate the demands of easy buying. This is why IKEA has fairly low on floor staff presence, but they make it easy to buy, you get it immediately and it works. If you don’t want to spend hours wondering wether you had the instructions upside down, you can buy extended service. In high end retails you pay more, wait longer, get as bad or worst service (since you expect more) and usually feel a bit ripped off.
Those who have followed my blog so far know I recently built and decorated a house on an island and then moved on to a city flat which isn’t ready yet. So you can imagine I’ve dealt with a lot of furniture shops and retailers. And they still manage to surprise me of how badly they deal with loyal customers. I demand good service, and because of the overall bad customer service in Finland (my opinion) you unfortunately pay for the least bad. As some stores have exclusivity you are forced to buy regardless of if you are happy with the service or not.
In one very prestigious furniture store I went to I walked around for a while and found a sofa I loved. I sat in it, rearranged the pillows, pulled out some fabric alternatives onto the couch and still, no sign of a sales guy. I bounced up and down some more, checked the price tag and so on. Still no sales guy. Their asses were firmly glued to their seats behind the comfortable wall, that is their desks that shields them from any contact with actual customers. I had to walk up to the desk and say “I would like to buy a sofa” for him to blurt out “what? Now?”. Great.. They had an offer on double coverings that month but when I asked he didn’t know whether it was also for this couch, even though the ad said “all couches”.. I had to buy it anyway, and it is an awesome couch, I am however very skeptical of me going there again..
One store, I’m particularly fond of, I ordered some furniture from. I ordered them in January and they promised me to have them by march. In march I get a call from one of the insanely young girls with no authority saying the chairs would arrive in June, IN JUNE!!! They said sorry in the way everyone says sorry when they don’t mean it, and did no effort to try and fix it before I threatened to pull myself out of the deal and made them do everything in their power to fix the mistake. They called and said they couldn’t guarantee my order, so I asked if I could get the products with another fabric. After a week they called me that this could be arranged. In march when they arrived I went to pick them up and they had the nerve to ask me for more money as I had changed the fabric to a more expensive one. They could at least have had the courtesy to tell me this before I changed the order. I asked then to get a discount and they said, no mam, we cannot give it to you since we already gave you one for your initial order. I really wanted to remind her I had bought half the store half a year ago, but such things are quickly forgotten.
My last story isn’t really customer service but still, I called a store to ask about a table they had in their final sale ad. I assumed it would be in stock, however they informed me it would take 6-8 weeks for it to arrive. I called the same brand store in Stockholm that promised to deliver it in 2 weeks. How can you compete with that I ask?
I think we all should be able and brave enough to demand better service, let the management of these companies know what you want, make them think about their “wrapper”. The product is just a product, and there are hundreds of alternatives if your not brand loyal and they should think about how they get you to buy their product and stay happy with it.