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Give us a reason to stay……….

By FashionPeacock - 31 January 2011 22

We have all seen the recent campaign by 21 retailers including Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman and Just Jeans urging consumers to keep patronising their retail stores and demanding that GST be applied to online purchases.

Apart from being an ill conceived and somewhat arrogant campaign, which I’m not going to get into, it’s the wrong way to attempt to keep your customers, especially in Canberra.

As much as any fashionista or for that matter anyone who loves a good shop, I love the experience of going in to a boutique to touch, feel, try and experience the items for sale. What I don’t love is going into a store and being treated with various levels of disinterest and disdain, sometimes bordering on contempt. Mr Harvey and other retail outlets I think that you have totally approached this the wrong way.

Instead of placing this ad in national newspapers, why not invest in improving the shopping experience so customers actually want to keep patronising your stores? What if, for example Harvey Norman had a ‘Discovery Pod’ where customers could sit with a staff member and receive a personalised lesson on how to operate the device they just purchased? Imagine (shock! Horror!) walking around Myer and actually having a staff member approach you, greet you and offer service?

The purpose of this piece is not just to complain about the lack of good service, but to open a discussion about those in Canberra who do get it right and give great service.

One of my favourites is Carmen Steffens, in the Canberra Centre. Now I really can’t afford to shop there too often, but the service I receive every time I visit ensures that if I need shoes I will always go there first.

I love the way that all customers are treated well, regardless of their purchasing intentions. You enter the store and staff walk out from behind the counter to greet you, offering a cold drink. When you do make a purchase they follow up with a postcard or call soon after, to ensure that you are happy with your purchase.

The kicker for me was the one day I fell in love with a gorgeous pair of boots that I really couldn’t afford. When I told the staff this, I expected the usual look of disdain, how dare I waste their time when I know I can’t afford the shoes?

No, they simply smiled and explained that they offer ‘take-home Lay-buy’ and with a small deposit and regular payments that I could, In fact leave the store that day with my gorgeous new boots!

Not only was I blown away by such service I told everyone who would listen about my experience and recommend the store to all my friends.

What are your experiences with customer service, particularly in retail stores, in Canberra? Please tell us about the great ones so we can spread the word and about the bad ones so we can vote with our feet.

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Give us a reason to stay……….
damien haas 11:12 am 01 Feb 11

Keijidosha said :

Bunnings are ahead by a mile in the race to provide the worst customer service. It doesn’t matter if the place is full of customers or deserted the staff all seem preoccupied with shuttling stock around like worker ants instead of helping customers. If you do manage to find someone willing to assist, most of the time they only have the most vague idea of what you’re asking for, regardless of how simple the request. Don’t get me started on their stock levels either. 1230847 varieties of screws yet they’re always sold out of the most common types.

I miss the small hardware stores, where there was always a ‘good old bloke’ there who knew how to build a fence or what blade you need to cut stainless steel. You’d be lucky to find a Bunnings staff member who could tie their own shoelaces.

Id agree with this. I wanted to buy some hex headed screws, but they didnt stock a driver bit. They just seemed totally disinterested in helping, didnt even offer to order the bit, just sort o shrugged their shoulders and wished I would go away.

I found exactly what I was after at a dedicated nut and bolt shop, apparently theyre called ‘fasteners’, in Mitchell, where the owner finished selling 20kg’s of fasteners to a tradie and then found a bit and a box of screws for me, in fact he gave me the bit. the screws were cheaper too.

Keijidosha 11:10 am 01 Feb 11

Lazy I said :

Harvey Norman does interest free too.. and I wouldn’t shop there if you paid me.

You must be one of the 2% of the population not influenced by the ‘Harvey Norman effect’. For future reference, symptoms include raised heart rate and salivation at the mention of the words “interest free”, and the uncontrollable urge to fill your house with generic products at boutique prices.

The appeal of Harvey Norman has me seriously baffled.

qbngeek 10:06 am 01 Feb 11

Keijidosha said :

I miss the small hardware stores, where there was always a ‘good old bloke’ there who knew how to build a fence or what blade you need to cut stainless steel. You’d be lucky to find a Bunnings staff member who could tie their own shoelaces.

I feel your pain and have a solution, which may be a bit of a hike but totally worth it. Home Hardware in Karabar. Been in there a few times looking to undertake projects with no idea what I was doing and they have put me on the right path and made things easy to understand.

Some of the young guys don’t always know what is what, but they have always asked me to wait while they get someone who can help, which I am happy to do for the right advice.

Prices are a little higher the Bunnings but that is the cost of fantastic customer service.

Lazy I 9:54 am 01 Feb 11

As a regular at Carmen Steffens (*cough* Mrs Lazy I) I definitely agree that as a whole their service is over and above everything else around and that is probably what keeps dragging us back (and the Mrs Lazy I obsession with shoes). What I think is particularly innovative in their service is the hand written letters they send out after purchases thanking you etc. and can also say that we are always greeted when we walk in.

I have had one hiccup where we were invited to some kind of fashion show for a new range and when I sat down I was told “sorry, this is for invited guests only”… wasn’t sure what to make of that…. but it was quickly ironed out.

They have also shown us items that are due in next season and hand written notes / emailed us letting us know when items we are interested in have arrived etc… the take home lay by would be the last thing I would probably get excited about to be honest. Harvey Norman does interest free too.. and I wouldn’t shop there if you paid me.

They definitely provide an experience you just wouldn’t get online and something we are happy to pay for.

Keijidosha 9:35 am 01 Feb 11

Bunnings are ahead by a mile in the race to provide the worst customer service. It doesn’t matter if the place is full of customers or deserted the staff all seem preoccupied with shuttling stock around like worker ants instead of helping customers. If you do manage to find someone willing to assist, most of the time they only have the most vague idea of what you’re asking for, regardless of how simple the request. Don’t get me started on their stock levels either. 1230847 varieties of screws yet they’re always sold out of the most common types.

I miss the small hardware stores, where there was always a ‘good old bloke’ there who knew how to build a fence or what blade you need to cut stainless steel. You’d be lucky to find a Bunnings staff member who could tie their own shoelaces.

rescuedg 9:32 am 01 Feb 11

I had a really good experience with EB Games in the Canberra Centre. I decided to buy a Wii with guitar hero. Long story short I couldn’t get it to work with my TV. While trying to get it fixed I called up the store and went in for advice both times I spoke with the guy who I think is the manager and although he hadn’t heard of the problem before didn’t treat me like an idiot. In the end I had to return it as it was unplayable and they were very speedy in giving me a refund, no hassles despite having opened and used everything, the staff seemed honestly concerned that I hadn’t been able to get it to work.

Erg0 8:58 am 01 Feb 11

I-filed said :

Don’t get too goo-ey over the “charitable” take-home layby approach. It’s getting to be a standard selling tactic these days, designed to counter the internet shoppers’ habit of “trying on in the shop then buying on-line”.

Sounds like a variation on the much-reviled “1,000,000 months interest free” offers that are always being run by our favourite generic retailers.

Encouraged to hear about Capital Honda – I bought my car there last year and it’s just about due for a service.

jadie360 8:52 am 01 Feb 11

Of course the reason you really can’t afford to shop there too often is because they are providing this level of service. It doesn’t come for free.

Deano 8:56 pm 31 Jan 11

I’ll second Capital Honda as being a role model for customer service. Their service department is bettered by none. They have no problems with dropping you back to your house and picking you up again when you drop tour car off for a service. They always keep you informed about what they are doing to your car and when they could finish working on our car on time, the service manager lent us his car to take home overnight.

beejay76 6:32 pm 31 Jan 11

I know it’s not retail, but I bought a car from Capital Honda recently. They totally rocked. They bent over backwards to help me. I didn’t have a car, so they sent someone out with the paperwork to get the car registered so I didn’t have to go in. And then, when it was time to pick up the car, the chappie came and picked me up. Tops.

dtc 6:22 pm 31 Jan 11

Small specialised stores are often run/staffed by people who love what they are selling. Wander into a fishing shop and ask an intelligent question and see if the answer takes less than 10 minutes…camping stores are the same.

Its the generic retailers that are usually crap. If the company is publically listed, you can usually guarantee that its (a) a big generic retailer and (b) it will have a limited number of generic staff who (c) dont really care.

However, generic shops are usually cheaper. For all the reasons listed above. So take your pick – price or service.

I-filed 6:21 pm 31 Jan 11

Don’t get too goo-ey over the “charitable” take-home layby approach. It’s getting to be a standard selling tactic these days, designed to counter the internet shoppers’ habit of “trying on in the shop then buying on-line”.

FashionPeacock 4:10 pm 31 Jan 11

Feathergirl said :

What a great story, I hope it’s real and not just sneaky advertising for Carmen Steffans.

Thanks for the comment, I can assure you it’s not, I just struggled to find another local store that has ‘wowed’ me like that.
I wish I could have posted a long list of stores that give great service.
If however I score some free shoes, I promise to raffle them off and donate the proceeds to charity 🙂

Mystery2Me 3:49 pm 31 Jan 11

Ok, so I’m one of those “minority” who don’t want a sales person in my face the minute I walk in a store. What I do want is “assistance” when I need it. So, yes, agree with the comment on Myer and walking from empty counter to empty counter.

However, I can go “touch, feel, try and experience” items at a retailer, then go home and google the item and find it for half the price (in most cases) or at least at a significantly lower price. This item might not be from overseas but from an Australian company, but let’s face it, a great deal of “local” stores get their stuff manufactured by some minority in a sweat house overseas.

I don’t want smother-me customer service. I want prompt, efficient, do-what-I-can customer service when I need it, not when I cross the threshold of the store.

Feathergirl 3:30 pm 31 Jan 11

What a great story, I hope it’s real and not just sneaky advertising for Carmen Steffans.

I recently went to the new Rivers outlet store in Tuggeranong and the staff there smiled! They seemed actually happy to be at work, chatted to each other about setting up good shop displays and dressed well too. I sound like an old person, but it was nice (and different) to have smiling help, a conversation and neat and tidy shop and staff.

I have to agree about Myers. I hate walking from counter to counter to find them all empty of staff.

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