Friday, 6 March 2015

Politeness Costs Nothing

Time and again I blog about customer service issues, with my biggest gripe being rudeness and complete lack of manners.

Long waiting times in queues, lack of stock, poorly informed assistants and staff shortages can all be very annoying, but the situation can be lightened a little by apologies, explanations and generally polite service. Why is it then, that time and again, some assistants forget this basic rule?

Several days ago, my husband called in at a branch of Boots (Strood in Kent to be precise) to pick up some pain relief tablets for me, as I was suffering a flare up of my joints. He arrived just in time for opening, which was unfortunately delayed due to the pharmacist being held up.

Bad service makes me mad!
That in itself is fair enough. We all get caught in traffic at times or suffer some other setback and, by law, shops offering pharmacy services aren’t allowed to open without a pharmacist on site. What was unforgivable, however, is the way the situation was handled by the person who was seemingly in charge – an unhelpful individual named Richard.

A line of customers patiently formed outside the store, but at no time did Richard, or anyone else for that matter, pop their head out to offer an explanation or even post a notice on the door.

When Richard did open up shop following the arrival of the tardy pharmacist, instead of issuing a polite “excuse me” to customers so that he could push back the doors, he ‘shooed’ them away with an irritated gesture.

Things didn’t get any better. When he served my husband with the requested medication, he grudgingly muttered ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ through gritted teeth, exuding an air of “I don’t really want to serve you and I don’t like you”!

Needless to say my husband was seething when he returned home, having received such appalling treatment. We immediately looked up the contact details for Boots head office and emailed a complaint.

This is where I can report some happier news. The area manager of Boots stores phoned my husband with an apology and assured him that she would be visiting the branch to address the situation. And let’s face it, when we make this kind of complaint, that’s exactly what we want – an apology, an explanation and reassurance that our bad experience will not be repeated. A positive response to our complaint can make the difference between us returning to a store or shopping elsewhere.

It’s true that we don’t know whether Richard was having a bad day. There may be horrors in his life, problems galore – but these should never be taken out on unsuspecting customers, who just want to be served politely and go on their way.

As customers I believe that we always have the duty to report bad service, so that it can be improved for ourselves and others in the future. In turn shops have a duty to respond appropriately.

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