7.5.07

Customer Service

My grandmother used to work in retail and would tell the stories about how customer service used to be back in the day. She would tell funny stories about women returning purses used for one special night and acting completely oblivious to the fact that the lining was full of face powder. In the end, the customer was the customer and the customer was always right.

While I think the US has become more of a sales focused economy without too much worry about customer satisfaction or service, even in the selling stage there seems to be a lapse in attention. I mean, walk into a cellular store to buy a new mobile phone, a fast food store to buy a cheeseburger or a shoe store to try on some shoes that you could potentially buy and your odds of being helped let alone someone being friendly about it are slim to none.

Since I have been here, I have been impressed with the customer service. Start with Lufthansa for example. On my first flight to Germany, the people at the check in counter didn't argue with me about 3 lbs over the luggage allowance. The flight attendants were pleasant but not in your face. I didn't feel like they were doing me a favor giving me a second glass of wine or even acknowledging my existence.

On my first shoe shopping trip, the woman polished up the shoes, sprayed on some waterproofing spray and gave me some shoe forms for keeping them in shape. When I bought a pair of sunglasses, the shopkeeper fitted a brand new pair for me (not the one on the display rack), cleaned them up and gave me a nice case to keep them in.

When I bought skis, the salesman was knowledgeable and listened to what I wanted from my skis. He knew every model in the store and could recommend several in the right price range and skill level.

A few months ago, my DVD player went kaputt. It was past the warranty and I had lost the receipt but when we brought it back to MediaMarkt they took it and offered to try to make the repair or they would exchange it.

Not everything is so rosy. Waiters are notoriously slow and forget you exist once they drop the food on your table. Store workers always have right of way, even if they are blocking the one jar that you must have for your dinner that night. Sometimes the rules are the rules and there is no bending them. That one day past the warranty is one day too late.

All in all though, the service here is more like the days my grandmother told me about, when the point was to sell once and keep them coming back for more.

Posted from Basel

6 comments:

J said...

Apparently service is totally different there than here.

Michelle said...

Hehehhe- everyone always complains but maybe I have just been lucky.

Un-Swiss Miss said...

I've been wondering if my standards are too low, because I too am much happier with customer service here than back in the US. But a lot of other expats complain about it. Maybe it's just a Basel vs Zürich thing.

Heza said...

That's pretty encouraging that you've had all these positive customer service experiences. I guess I've just entered the wrong store or spoke to the someone who was having a bad day. Maybe my luck will change when I can smooth talk in German ;-)

The Big Finn said...

It's funny, but Mrs. TBF and I often say that customer service in Basel is non-existent. I guess that's a bit harsh; hit-or-miss is more accurate for us with boutique-type stores being good.
On the other hand, I just returned a one-year old belt a couple of weeks ago at Nordstrom in Chicago because the buckle had broke, and they just handed me a new one - no questions asked. Also, one bag was three pounds over the weight limit when checking in at American Airlines at O'Hare, and the AA employee told me it was no problem and not to bother when I offered to lighten the load by switching some stuff to my other suitcase.

Christina said...

I think you've been lucky, or it's Basel, cause even my German thinks Germany needs better customer service! But Berlin is also well-known for being a customer service black hole.