It blows my mind how businesses, especially small ones, permit employees to be rude to their clients and customers.
Take The Write Stuff, for instance. They sell the loveliest invitations, gifts, and home decor and accessories on this side of the Mason-Dixon, but the older man who works there is consistently rude. Like he’s annoyed that someone dared to enter the store and ask him to ring something up, causing him to do his freaking job. And Heaven forbid a customer request that something is gift wrapped because they might as well be asking him to lasso the moon.
South Tampa people, you feel my pain, you really do.
But I love their Rifle Paper Company stationery so I keep returning.
What’s more stifling is when the business owner is the rude one.
He or she spends time, energy, and moolah on marketing materials and public relations but is too dumb to realize the lasting impact of poor customer service.
Like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld: No referral for you! No return business for you!
I have a hard time relating to those who are nasty “business minded” people.
In my “real job” as an attorney, I’m required to adhere to strict client reporting guidelines and similar deadlines Courts impose regarding responding to a complaint, answering discovery, and preparing for trial. Blowing a deadline could result in sanctions, losing a client or, worse, a legal malpractice case. I also respond to all client emails within 24 hours of them being sent (sometimes even on weekends, to the extent reasonable) in the interest of having them know I am on top of something. As the legal field is saturated with attorneys, my colleagues work hard to secure clients and keep them happy because we know there are hundreds of other lawyers who would love for the client to be their own.
In my “side job” as a blogger, I work hard to obtain sponsorships. To a lay person, companies pay bloggers to promote their services or products, which result in sponsored posts via a blog post or social media promotions, or both. (According to the Federal Trade Commission, sponsored posts must be conspicuously disclosed to the reader.) All of these sponsorships involve contracts with strict deadlines regarding the date and time to post. I work hard to ensure I comply with all deadlines. In rare instances where I cannot meet a deadline (like two weeks ago, when the internet went down at my house and the technician couldn’t come until five days later) I let the client know ahead of time and either secure an extension or give them the option to bow out of the contract.
It’s not all bad. I want to tell you about an exemplary customer service experience.
Last November, I was invited to attend a “girls night out” with friends and, like most women, had “nothing to wear,” despite having a closet full of clothes (some of which still had the tags). During my lunch break, I rushed to the Nordstrom at the International Plaza, quickly retrieved the perfect winter-white jumpsuit from Topshop, and did a little internal crying once I reached the check-out counter. The associate was brand spanking new (it was her first day on the job!) and took her forever to ring up the long line of other customers ahead of me. As in, The Sandlot forever. FOR-EV-ER.
Once I finally made it to the front of the line, it took the sales associate ten minutes to ring up my ONE jumpsuit.
When I arrived back at the house after work, I was pressed for time. I had a couple minutes to shower, refresh my makeup (as in, putting new makeup on top of old makeup- don’t judge!), spray some dry shampoo, get dressed, and call Uber to take me to the restaurant where I was meeting my friends.
When I retrieved the outfit from the bag, it caught my eye.
The security tag was still attached.
The sales associate forgot to remove it.
This was no small tag that I could easily hide. It was black, the length of a stapler, and was a huge contrast from the white outfit.
Desperate, I tried to remove it myself. No dice.
So I did something I’m ashamed of, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
I got on the phone, called Nordstrom, asked to speak with the manager, and unleashed Hell.
I was crazy. I was another person. I am not proud of who that person was.
I was furious about the sales associate. I was so patient while I was in the store. Didn’t get annoyed when her being slow cost me time at lunch. And this was the thanks I got?
I swear that if that call was recorded for quality control purposes and someone finds it and connects it to me, it’ll damage my chances of ever running for public office.
Instead of meeting fire with fire, the manager calmly advised that she would send an associate to meet me at my destination to remove the security tag.
As in, Nordstrom was rectifying the mistake by going out of their way to come to a location that was convenient to me to remove it.
Are you kidding me? After I was so rude and obnoxious?
If this were any other store, the lady on the other end of the phone would have pretended to sympathize with my situation and advised me that I’d have to come back to the store to have it removed.
An hour later, as I was enjoying wine with friends, a sweet Nordstrom associate met me at the restaurant and removed the tag.
It was incredible.
But this is what sets Nordstrom apart from its competitors.
When I told a girlfriend this story, she pointed out that she returned some sunglasses to Nordstrom several months after she bought them (with no receipt, only the credit card she used to purchase the item) and Nordstrom gave her a refund with no questions asked.
Nordstrom might be pricier than some of the other stores, but the customer service and overall experience are bar none. I don’t mind paying a little bit more when I know I am going to be treated like a customer who is truly valued.
I wish more professionals would adopt the philosophy that the customer is always right, even though my behavior in response to the associate’s honest mistake- no matter how irritating it was to me- was completely wrong.
By the way, I am receiving nothing from Nordstrom to write this post and I didn’t ask for anything. I just believe they deserve a nod for exemplifying how customer service should truly be.