The First Rule of Customer Service

…is that you never talk about customers in front of other customers.

If you’re willing to tell tales about another customer, how does this customer know you won’t do the same about them?

No, in this case, discretion is certainly the better part of valour.

This tip courtesy of five years working in Harrods.

5 Responses to The First Rule of Customer Service

  1. Joe Boughner says:

    Good point Ed. I am blown away by the level of customer service in most retail outlets these days. On the one hand, yea, it’s just Dairy Queen or whatever, but on the other, customers are the foundation of your business.

    When I worked in retail in my high school and uni days, I would have been fired if I did half of what the average counter worker does these days.

    Man, who would have thought I’d be getting all “back in my day” before I hit 30?

  2. How about “The customer is always right?” Is that no longer #1?


  3. […] The First Rule of Customer Service « Blogging Me Blogging You…is that you never talk about customers in front of other customers. […]

  4. Carla Day-Reiner says:

    I’ve just jumped ship from the retail world myself recently (mid-priced, UK-based clothing line) and it’s astounding how a basic point like this goes over the heads of most retail associates these days. I’m not sure what’s worse, talking about customers in front of other customers, or willingly airing the character flaws of another co-worker in front of a customer in order to single out said co-worker and relieve pressure off the rest of the staff.

    To Felix: “the customer is always right” is an antiquated policy that put former industry leaders like Eaton’s out of business. Sure it’s essential to entertain and address customer complaints within reason, however it’s astounding these days what some customers out there will try to demand and get away with (i.e. trying to return perfumed-doused articles of clothing with cigarette burn holes, claiming “it doesn’t fit me after all”).

  5. John Heuer says:

    Hi Ed,
    I just had a major spat with a local retailer. I sent an e-mail rant and was blown away my the response… from the president of the company [name redacted]. I’ll omit the history and context, but summarize with: My wife received bad service and was refused a sale at their Oakville Place store. I sent a rant to the generic e-mail address of the company. You can believe the store was in the wrong, or my wife and I are completely unreasonable and horrible people. In either case, the response is… interesting… to say the least.

    I would have expected a more professional response, asking our side of what happened, and simply stating something generic like “We’re sorry we couldn’t meet your expectations”. I would have moved on from there without a second thought.

    Instead, I received this:

    Hi John,
    Strange mix of reaction to your message just now. As I began reading it, I thought it was a joke. Then I realized there is palpable rage in this email.
    I think you have serious problems John. How could something so minor generate such violent outbursts, first by your wife in a public place, and then from you, second hand to provoke a childish rant to someone who you don’t know. You even ridicule my address? What is wrong with you two?

    The owner of our Oakville franchise is highly respected within our organization, our industry, and by me. [name redacted] is a gentle man. He has operated his business for more than twenty years and is often greeted by his customers like an old friend.

    Get over it John. Find some other poor young cashier you and your wife can bully. This is retail. Our employees are as human as you, and deserving of civil treatment as you and your family, including your unfortunate children. Please take your business elsewhere. Fortunately, you do not represent the majority of our valued clientel. Our owners and valued employees deserve better.

    [name redacted]
    [name redacted]
    blogger’s note: I’ve redacted the names involved because, as John notes himself, he hasn’t given any context to this story.

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