As I get older, I get increasingly more painful. Which is saying a lot as I am coming off a high base - I was born anal, nit-picky and intolerant of bad / surly service. But lately I have become even worse. I abhor bad service and I refuse to tolerate it. I am a paying customer and I demand to get the service I am paying for. I am a huge pain in the arse. But I also try to give compliments where they are due - I am known for writing letters to management if I get exceptional service from someone. And when I get bad service, I tell over a 1000 people about it - the people who read my blog every week. So here is my week's pick of the good and the bad in customer service.
First - the bad: Last night Marko and I went out on our 'date night', a fairly rare occurrence but one that I am trying to do on a more regular basis as I have been very, VERY bad at speaking Marko's love language lately (ever) - his love language is quality time and physical touch - my two worst things. But I am trying. Which is why we went out for supper last night. For our rare date night we went to Lemon Butta at Willowbridge for some sushi. We went early (so that I could get home early - am horrible date) and the restaurant was about half full with most people sitting outside. The owner of the restaurant called our waiter over for some sort of impromptu meeting, two tables away from us and for about 10 minutes proceeded to crap on this poor guy's head about missing a shift on the weekend or something like that - he went on and on and on. In a really loud voice. I thought he was really rude to the waiter, but besides his shocking people management skills I thought it was highly inappropriate to (a) be crapping on the guy in front of all the other staff and customers and (b) be doing so just two meters away from his customers who are there to relax and enjoy a night out. It was extremely stressful and spoilt my meal. I am so irritated by it. Hence this blog post. As Marko says, perhaps the guy had a point but he didn't have to make it so loudly and so publicly. He has an office just up the stairs. I felt embarrassed for our waiter.
Another bad: If you live in Cape Town and listen to Cape Talk, you will have heard the RAM couriers ad. It is on every five minutes. The adverts must be fairly effective as when I needed a courier the other day, I decided to look them up on the internet and give them a call. I was put on hold five times for the sales department. Eventually the receptionist must have got bored with putting me on hold and informed me that the sales department were busy at the moment (no, really?) and that they would call me back shortly. It's been 6 days. Not a single call. I have obviously used someone else. So their advertising might be effective but their service is clearly non-existant.
Then, the good: This morning I did some errands with the three kids. I took them for breakfast, I popped in at the bank, I had a meeting with my accountant. With all three kids, two of which were acting like terrors. I only have one well behaved child and it is the child who I least expected would be my 'easy' child. It was stressful, to put it mildly. My last stop was to pop into Dischem to get something which I can't tell you as it is too embarrassing and you will mock me about it (it is not what you think). I could have got it elsewhere but I chose Dischem because it was the easiest to park, walk to the shop and herd all three children through the shops without having tantrums (my own). I got to the shelf and I discovered there was none of what I was looking for on the shelf. I was so annoyed - I exclaimed out loud "Oh no! I've come all the way to get XYZ and they don't have!" and I turned around and walked away. Through the check out aisle where I had to buy everyone a cooldrink and a small sweet. Because I am a sucker. As I was paying for 3x cooldrinks and 3x small sweeties, the packer who was packing shelves ran up to me and said "are you looking for XYZ? I have found some for you at the back of the store". How cool is that! It saved me a trip to another store plus my sanity. I called the manager over and gave him feedback about the packer. The manager said they have a reward system that he will nominate the staff member for. I am really impressed. Thanks Dischem.
Lastly, an update: Remember about 18 months ago I posted about a coffee shop called Silver Spoon that had charged me two bucks extra to use their condiment sauces? I stopped going there after that but about a month ago I decided to go back because their food is WAY better than the other coffee shop in the same mini mall. Because I am fickle like that. I did feel a little anxious about going back - maybe they had read the blog post and would now either hate me or spit in my food, or both. But then I thought they probably don't even remember me, never mind read my piss-willy little blog. As I sat there, I could see the manager/owner looking at me and I thought "oh fuck, they do remember me. Hope they don't have germs in their spit". The owner came over to me and said "Hi, do you have a minute, I would like to chat to you?" My armpits got a little sweaty but I stayed cool and said 'no problem'. He said "you were here a while ago and you gave us feedback about our service. I just wanted to say that we appreciate your input and since then we have made changes to the way we do things around here, so thank you very much". Awesome! I was so impressed. I think that is really great service - admitting when you have made a mistake and trying to improve so that it doesn't happen again. So thank you to the young man who owns Silver Spoon. I will be back.
So, I am a pain in the arse customer, but I do try to acknowledge and support establishments that give good service.