Charles Howden

November 23, 2006

As it turns out, I didn’t smudge the walls.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles @ 9:24 pm

Of course we all know that customer service is a dynamic process, our perceptions and standards move on as we quickly take for granted the level of service we experience, and expect to receive still more, and certainly, never less.

I had the perfect example of this on Monday when I went to buy some blue tack. Well not exactly blue tack, more like white blue tack. Blue tack which is blue, can leave a blue stain when used on white walls. I was delivering some training on Tuesday and was aware that the training room that I was using had recently been redecorated. I did not want to be held responsible for smudging the beautiful clean white walls. For this situation, white blue tack is the answer. White blue tack is a bit too sticky, but it does not leave a blue stain and perfect for freshly decorated white walls.

So that was the reason that I found myself in my local office supplies retail outlet (not exactly a shop) called Impact Office Supplies. In a past business life we used this business for all the stationary we couldn’t buy much more cheaply from Staples. I always resented shopping at Impact because it was expensive and they never seemed to have exactly what I needed (always at the last minute). Despite me being a perfect example of a sceptical, reluctant, last minute, urgent customer, I was usually given an increasing level of customer care from a very courteous and helpful member of their sales team called Rosie. When ever I asked for something that was not on the shelves (the very reason I was there, because I needed one straight off the shelf there and then), Rosie would ask me “when do you need this, because I can order this for you so that it will be here tomorrow, I could deliver it if you like”. She was clearly trying to help me, and over time, I got used to being looked after by someone who was keen to help me.

On Monday evening, Rosie was not in the store. I asked the sales assistant who was there “do you have any white blue tack?” To which the tart reply was “No”, end of interaction. The assistant walked off and left me standing there. The “no” I was kind of expecting. I have frequently heard it in the past when trying to buy some ordinary item of stationary. What I was expecting to then hear was “when do you need this, because I can order this for you so that it will be here tomorrow, I could deliver it if you like”. Instead of which I was left standing there, at the counter, staring incredulously into space.

Which gave me a great lesson that when a business is delivering a particular level of service and care, however good and advanced it may be, customers get used to it and will instantly recognised if the level drops off. On this occasion I ended up with blue blue tack, and as it turns out, I didn’t smudge the walls.

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