Customer Service? Bah Humbug!

It's nice to think that the quality of customer service in the UK is something that gets steadily better, as employees work to provide complete satisfaction, but my last visit to my local Currys has shown me that this is not so. It seems Christmas may be the season of goodwill, but it's not likely to be the season of good customer service.

Last Saturday, I went in to collect a Blu Ray DVD player, after reserving it on the retailer's website -- it couldn't be simpler, I thought.

It was near to closing on a Saturday evening in the run up to Christmas, but that doesn't excuse the indifference I was treated with by the Brixton branch of Currys' staff.

The only concern the staff seemed to have, was to get rid of me as soon as they could.

Whether I left with something under my arm appeared low down on their list of priorities and there was a point where I started to reconsider my purchase altogether.

The highlight was when a member of staff next to me told another to f*** off. If they treat each other like this on the shop-floor, what should customers expect.

The only enthusiasm any of them had was in trying to sell me extended warranty, even after I said I didn't want any.

So, thanks Currys for making what should have been an exciting and pleasurable experience -- this was my Christmas present to myself, after all -- into one which is only marginally better than having to sign on for the dole.

And although I don't have much goodwill left for the staff of the Brixton branch of Currys, it's the management I really blame. Here's why:

  • It's clear that staff morale was low by the distain they had for the customers. Judging by the way they acted like they were under siege, they were probably short-staffed and over-worked - it was the end of the busiest shift of the week and some of them looked exhausted.
  • The technology was failing them. Some of the tills wouldn't accept cards, which lengthened the queues and made customers impatient. If staff aren't supported by systems that work, they can't serve customers well, even if they want to.
These are quite critical management failings that naturally lead to staff treating customers badly.

There are things customers can do to pour oil on the waters when staff are surly. Keep your cool and be cheerful -- it rubs off on them. On the way out, stopping at the door to do up my coat, the security guard scowled at me.

I gave him a big grin and he immediately brightened up, telling me it was a good job I was wrapping up, as it was cold outside.

So, at least I got a courteous farewell.

(Pic: Lin Pernille Photography cc2.0)