Your Thoughts on Customer Service Expectations

I really believe that quality customer service is what sets successful businesses apart from the less successful ones. When we were in San Diego this Christmas break we were very pleasantly surprised at the level of customer service available in nearly every store, restaurant and shop we entered. Same for the Hilton La Jolla hotel where we stayed. People were always asking, “Can I help you with something?” And asking in a helpful way, never overbearing or being too pushy. The excellent customer service is one of our fondest memories of being in San Diego.

And then we returned to Vancouver. We were looking for a rain cover for our Mountain Buggy stroller and we phoned every shop in the Metro Vancouver area that sells Mountain Buggy. The only shop that said they had what we wanted was Crocodile Baby on 4th Ave. So we trekked across the city, parked on 4th and strolled in (excuse the pun).

Only to hear; “Oh, we don’t have any of those.”

My response, “I talked to someone on the phone a couple of hours ago and they told me then that they did. Are you sure?”

Pile on the snooty attitude from them and they reply with this; “If you wanted it, you should have said so on the phone. We could have sold it ten minutes after you got off the phone. Do you want to leave your phone number so we can call you when we get more of them in?”

Not likely. Since then we have contacted the distributor for the Metro Vancouver area. She told us that Mountain Buggy went bankrupt and has been bought by Phil &Ted’s strollers. Nobody has been able to get proper stock for a more than few weeks or months. The manufacturing is all messed up and she said she had no idea when or if they would get more stock.

Fast forward to yesterday when I am at Maxxam Insurance Services (formerly Sussex Insurance) on 10th Ave in Burnaby (in the Crest strip mall) trying to insure my new motorcycle. I try to return to the same insurance agent because in the past I have typically been pleased with the service. Yesterday not so much. To make a long story shorter, the young woman filling out the insurance docs for me (serving me or helping me is too much of a stretch) had a really snippy attitude.

For example, when I told her I wanted to cash in my car insurance plates she just said, “You can’t do that.”

Okay, I should have said I want to “Cancel my car insurance.” I do the same sort of thing twice a year, and yes I can do it. Wrong word from me, wrong response and attitude from her.

Then I wanted to insure my motorcycle. I wanted to know a couple price options…you know, maybe know my options and be able to make an informed decision before laying down nearly a $1000.

She wanted no part in helping me learn about the product she could sell me. She simply said, “This is what it will cost for the same coverage you had last year.”

Well, I actually wanted better coverage than last year and would have paid for it. Rather than tell her that, I just accepted the basic coverage, paid for it (argh!!) and walked out. But before I walked out I saw a brochure for off-road quad insurance. I asked her something about that and she said, “I don’t sell that product.” End of discussion for her; sale walks out the door.

Now I wonder, should I phone the place back or pop in and tell them how unhappy I was with the service I received? Or should I just let it be a lesson to me and not bother going back to their business? Thoughts?


  1. Obviously you won’t be back but, in these situations, I am inclined to pick up the phone, find out the name & email address of the person who cares & send a little note. In this case, with a link to your blog post.

    It would be especially nice if there were several comments here to let “the person who cares” know that people notice & take this type of information seriously?

    Anyone else?

  2. Wow… Sounds like you have had a string of bad experiences ! I used to Manage a store, and I know and understand that it can be tough for front line staff to meet the expectations of every customer, every time… but that should NOT be the job description. They should attempt to EXCEED the expectations. Sadly, the bar appears, in most cases, to be set far far below that.
    I try to make it a habit, when I receive good service or assistance to write a letter, or more recently, I Blog about it.
    When I get bad service ? I write a letter to the Store manager, and ask for a reply. If I don’t get one, they get an e-mail, saying they have lost my business, addressed to the General Manager or Owner.
    I vote with my dollars, and once slighted, it is VERY Hard for any Store or Organization to win my Business back.
    Hang in there, and don’t let the turkeys get you down !

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Bob. Typically I receive service that I appreciate. For example, just before the threat of snow earlier this winter I really wanted to get my snow tires put on my car. I went into Hyack Tire in New West and they managed to fit me in even though they were insanely busy. I made a point of going back the next day with a box of Timbits for the crew because I really appreciated their efforts. And more importantly, I will tell everyone about the top quality service they provide.
    You are right, I will vote with my dollars and also with my blog and with Twitter. Poor service or good service, I will tell those in my world.

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