Thursday, 20 September 2012

Customer service ... or rather the lack of it...again

Last week I contacted Premier Foods in an effort to try and find out why Batchelor's Condensed Reduced Fat Soups were disappearing from the shelves of the supermarket. I received a standard email by return acknowledging my query and promising a detailed reply with in a couple of days, hopefully.

It took nearly a week in the end and the reply I received was clearly from someone who could barely conceal his contempt at having to reply to me, a mere and lowly customer. It turns out that now tinned
products have been passed to Prince's foods, a fresh email address was supplied and I am awaiting the response from Prince's.

I was really annoyed at the offhandedness of the reply from Premier Foods, so I sent a further email to the gentleman concerned just reminding him that without folks like me buying his company's products, he would no longer have a job, just his P45. I received the standard response, promising a detailed reply within a couple of days... I am not hopeful.

I have today purchased an additional external hdd for my aging laptop, mainly so I can try & get it refurbished , the laptop, that is. As per usual, this has involved several weeks of looking and researching.
In the end, I decided to have another Western Digital and although its not my favourite place to shop PC World had them in stock at a keen price.

In order not to have a wasted trip driving to Leicester, I reserved online to collect in store. I don't know who
designs their stores but they are no more welcoming than when I last visited several years ago to buy my first external hdd. An assistant was stood at the counter,  so I approached him and explained the purpose of my visit. He consulted his screen, checked my name, then just wandered off without a word, to collect the package. He barely tried to catch my eye, let alone engage in any form of conversation. I had to guess  where he was going and what was happening next. He never asked if there was anything else I wanted, ignored my half joking request for discount and shut the till as soon as he could so he could wander aimlessly off once more.

I rarely go "shopping" as such, funds are too scarce and I have pretty much all that I need to survive. I freely admit to being an advertisers nightmare. I do understand though, that there are millions of people in this country who think differently and say they enjoy shopping. I also see articles in the press and on television describing how the "retail experience" should be a pleasurable one.  I seem to recall, in days gone by, shop assistants in shops like PC World, would be trying to sell you all sorts of extras... if he had asked I might have been in the market to replace a couple of items but he didn't, so its their loss.

In these days when money is tight, I should have thought that retail businesses would have been going out of their way to make every visit a pleasant one, in order that you will spend your money with them and even go back to them for further purchases.

Am I wrong????

When our customers ring to book a pallet collection, we make conversation with them, even crack the occasional joke with those we know well. It is our job to encourage them to send their goods with us, we know the service we offer is excellent and our rates are keen but its about building relationships, going that bit further to answer a query, winning their confidence, so that they know they can dial our number in any delivery/collection crisis and we will do our utmost to help them out.

Surely, its a similar thing when you go shopping, so please, shop assistants, retailers, listen up, you need us and we want to enjoy shopping no matter how rare our trips may be. At the very least, look us in the eye, a little conversation & a smile go a long way to brightening everyone's day. It may just be the deal clincher!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Skool Reunion - Park Lane, Birchington

Last Saturday was the date for this year's Primary School Reunion. I went to the first one, but for various reasons havent been to any more until this, the tenth.

It was back in the days when I was new to the internet & a friend suggested I look on "Friends Reunited".Upon checking the listing for my primary/junior school.. among the profiles was a message asking whatever had happened to me? In those days you had to pay £5 to contact someone via the site, so I duly paid my money and got back in touch with the friend who had left the message. Over the course of the next few months, he managed to contact several more of us & the idea of the Reunion was born.

I just tried to find a photo of that first one but its eluding me for now, I think that 14 or 15 of us made it. This year, though I dont know if any more arrived after I left on Saturday, there were 10 of us.It was really good to catch up and also to remember those who are no longer with us.
None of us has got this far without an illness, injury or scar. Apart from myself, all who were there have partners and I think, ... though I stand to be corrected, most have children, nearly all of whom are grown up. And strangely enough, I was the only one with neon pink hair :-) !

Since my return, when I have said where I was last weekend, most people have commented on it being unusual to have a primary school reunion. It was never something I had thought about. My secondary school was obviously a bigger school and I know they hold reunions fairly often though I have never been to one. I have only kept in touch with one friend from secondary school and through her hear of a few others.

I think its great that the friendships we formed on our first steps in the big wide world have endured over forty years. Despite not living in each others pockets, when we get together, the years dont matter, the friendships continue as if we had never been apart.

Our 50th birthdays are not far off ... wonder what mischief we will get up to that year....

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

You didn't spoil our reunion despite your best efforts!

I went back to Kent at the weekend, to see family & it was also my Primary school reunion - the Class of '75.

As for the previous 9yrs, the "Powell Arms" pub in the Square at Birchington was the venue to meet up. Any time from 1pm...this year the idea was to go for a curry later on but the arrangement is always flexible, just make it if you can, even if not for the full duration.

I arrived shortly after 1pm and over the next hour or so several others arrived.We were set for a relaxing afternoon when the barman came across to inform us that the "owner/manager", Mr Steve Hayden, had been on the phone and instructed him to close the pub immediately. The pub normally is open all day and has a sign outside to say so.

Stunned & amazed, we explained that we were holding a reunion and had arranged to meet at the pub during the afternoon/early evening. The young man apologised but said that there was no option than to close. We asked if we could leave a notice on the door to advise latecomers where we were and notice posted, adjourned to another pub, "The Acorn", a short distance away.

Luckily, the landlord of "The Acorn" was happy to take our money on a wet, miserable day so we settled in for a lovely afternoon.

Mr Steve Hayden, apparently has another pub in Westgate on Sea, "The Nott", I believe is its name these days, though it was always the "Nottingham Castle" when I lived in Thanet. If this is his way of treating customers then I dont forsee a long future for either establishment which, in the case of the "Powell Arms" would be a shame.

Customers' money is what pays the bills. It pays to give them a good experience when they visit or else they WON'T return but they WILL tell others.

I would have thought that ten or more folks chatting and drinking steadily for several hours would be worth staying open for but clearly Mr Hayden has a different take on the matter.