Thursday, August 14, 2008

A few thoughts on customer service... and knots

Is it just me? Or has customer service become a thing of the past? When I opened the shop over 6 years ago, I put friendly, knowledgable customer service at the top of my goals list. Whether we are helping a customer in the shop, or shipping an order to an internet customer, our number one goal is to excel in all areas of customer service.

In the shop, we aren't hoverers. We also aren't ignorers. Our policy is that we are there for anything and everything you need - project ideas, color consultation, yarn recommendations, knitting help, advice, etc but we don't jump on you - that's not our style. We also don't try to sell you what you don't need. Sure, removable stitch markers are lovely, but don't you have safety pins lying around? Stitch markers - cool! But scrap yarn works as well.

When processing our online orders, we are speedy and accurate. We take care in packaging our orders, and we contact our customers if we think they've misordered in any way. We mark down shipping costs on pattern only orders. We do everything that we would want done for us. If and when we make a mistake (We're human! It happens!) we do what it takes to make it right.

Are we the only ones? I am amazed each day at the LACK of customer service that I see in my travels. Just this morning at the grocery store (and this happens each visit) the bagger OVER-stuffed my re-usable bags to the point where I could barely lift them. Is this because they just don't care about the job they're doing? Did they fail "grocery bagging 101"? Or are they trying to save the store the measly 3 cents per bag credit, by using fewer of my bags? I don't get it. And if this is how they routinely bag groceries, then my next career is grocery bagger. I do it way better!

And as I was trying to bag a few bags myself, the cashier yelled at me to pick my payment type on the credit card machine. I guess the machine had beeped, so I would choose credit or debit, and I didn't hear it because I was trying to bag my groceries. Yes, a 16 year old girl YELLED at me, with her teeny bopper impatient attitude. There wasn't even anyone in line behind me. That's such great customer service. Don't think I'll be back to that store anytime soon. But do they really care?

Earlier this week I got a call from a customer of ours. She had visited our store in the spring, and purchased some yarn. When I said "Hello?" she said "I'm calling from Virginia and I am NOT happy." GULP! This is - of course - not what you like to hear. So I took a deep breath and asked her what I could do for her. Turns out, she was NOT happy with one of our suppliers. (phew!)

She bought some yarn from us in the spring. She just started to work with one skein, and when she went to wind it, she found 15-16 knots in the skein. She knew (of course!) that this was excessive and that it was not OUR fault, but the manufacturer's.

SIDE NOTE: Most of our manufacturers will replace (or give us credit for) a ball of yarn that has 4 or more knots in it. They say that most balls have ZERO knots, but that occasionally the balling/skeining machine has hiccups. They say 3 knots are acceptable. So any more than 3, you bring us the yarn and we give you a new ball - or credit. Then we send the bad ball back to the manufacturer and they credit us.

Anyway, knowing that this was clearly the manufacturer's problem, this lovely and very frustrated customer called the manufacturer directly, and as it is a relatively small company - got through to the owner immediately. She explained the problem, told her she had purchased the yarn from us, and asked what could be done about it. The owner of the company (who our customer described as "evil") said it was not her problem at all. She had sold the yarn to us and so it was OUR problem. She said she couldn't and wouldn't help in any way, and basically told the customer that she'd have to take it up with us.


Now really, what's important here? The only thing that matters in this situation is that the customer gets some sort of compensation for her clearly damaged and defective skein of yarn. I couldn't believe how poorly she was treated, and so I got her name and address and told her not to worry, I'd send her a replacement skein of yarn in the mail. She asked if I wanted the damaged skein back - to send back to this company for credit. No thanks! It's not worth my time.

In the end, I'm glad the customer wasn't unhappy with us - like I thought when I answered the phone! She was furious at this company, and really just couldn't believe that anyone would have that kind of awful business etiquette and rotten customer service.

It's sad that this company couldn't jut do the right thing, and replace one lousy ball of yarn. They certainly weren't concerned about their reputation. What goes around comes around. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...


imquilternity said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly! I try to provide the best possible customer service to my treat them as I want to be treated. It pays off in the long run and I can sleep at night knowing I've done my best! A happy customer is worth more to me than anything else...after all, word-of-mouth is the very BEST advertisement you can have!

Beth said...

Thats enough for me not to do business with that yarn company. I would have been pissed to be treated like that. Kudos for doing the right thing!

Anonymous said...

We have just returned from vacation in Bar Harbor. While there, we stopped for breakfast at a Cafe. It was open for breakfast - they offered bagels, wraps, muffins, danish, coffee, etc. When I ordered my son's bagel with butter, she stated that they didn't have any, and that they didn't have margarine, either. She 'only cooks with olive oil and only offers breakfast as a courtesy'. They serve '800 to 1200 everyday at lunch and she isn't concerned about breakfast'. Well...then why be open for breakfast? And it wasn't that they don't have big was her attitude. We should have walked away!