Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: customer service

Competition is knocking at your door Australia!

In the news today, Australia’s big retailers are calling for GST to be charged to online shoppers.Their reason is to create a “level playing field”. But, GST will not create a level playing field. When you can buy an item online for $300 instead of paying $800 in an Australian store, GST is off no consequence. I did just that last year when buying a watch for Christmas.

As a savy shopper, I researched before purchasing. I was mildly surprised to find the watch price range from $600 – $800 in retail outlets around Sydney. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was a big retailer or small, and none of these prices were a “sale price”. In fact I found the watch at a lower regular price in a jewellery store, than on sale at Myers! There is no excuse for such an excessive difference in price, someone is gouging!

What drove me to shop online? Not just the gouging, but the attitude of the retailers! I would ask if the watch was coming on sale and get rude comments back such as “these watches never go on sale”, only to find the watch on sale at the same retailer just days later!
Several times I walked out of a store because I couldn’t find anyone willing to help me!

Disturbed with the lack of customer service, but not to be dissuaded, I decided to research the watch online. I was not just pleasantly surprised, but shocked at the price difference. At $300, I was sold! I already have a paypal account, so it took me minutes to purchase the watch through ebay. It arrived at my doorstep within 3 days, well packaged and intact!

Welcome to the world of competition Australia.

My suggestion to the retailers of Australia, online shopping is a trend that cannot be bucked. It is here to stay. Either jump on the bandwagon and become an online presence or get left behind. Shopping online has hit Australia. It is only good business sense to listen to what your customers are asking for, they want online shopping and if they are visiting your store, they want the experience to be pleasant. That means increasing your level of customer service.

Competition is knocking at your door Australia, not just online shopping, but also large well known retailers are moving into Oz, such as Gap and they bring a superior level of customer service with them. It is time for Australian retailers to step up and compete or watch your sales plummet as these “foreign” retailers take hold of the market by offering a pleasant shopping experience. Good customer service is not difficult, just be authentic, know your product and show you care. The attitude of “that’s not my department” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

For whatever reason, retailers seem to have forgotten that it’s not all about you, it’s about what your customers want. The sooner you acknowledge and move towards filling their needs, the faster you will move forward!
It’s a sign of the times!

Customer service, alive and well in Tassie.

Tasmanians know customer service. They understand the importance of being authentic and genuine. And, we experienced it over and over again in our short time in Tasmania.
When in Bicheno, we wanted to do the penguin tour. It ended up being booked out, although the guy that worked there had told us we could just go to the beach at dusk. He wasn’t worried about the sale, he was concerned about our experience. And it was genuine concern. It was evident he really wanted us to experience seeing fairy penguins. He was not alone, we felt the same level of service wherever we went in Tassie.
After leaving the penguin tour place we went next door to the coffee shop to drown our sorrows over cappuccinos. The waitress immediately struck up a conversation with us by asking where we were from. She then went on to tell us that we would definitely see fairy penguins if we went to the blowhole later. She also gave us another location where we could see them. In fact she went as far as to show us on a local map. She also told us we would need a torch (flashlight) because the trails have many tripping hazards after dark, so after our very nice coffee we went across the street to the loghouse store to buy a torch.
Immediately the couple that ran the store struck up a conversation with us. Turns out they have been to Canada. They loved it and wanted to share their experience with us. The difference is that they were just as interested in our Tasmanian experience and how they could help to make it better. Once again, people who knew what customer service is all about.
We stayed at two B&B’s when in Tassie. Both were great and both understood the importance of the experience. I would say the same for the hotel we stayed in while in Hobart!
Tasmanian customer service was a refreshing surprise. I can’t wait to return to visit the rest of Tassie. It’s on my list!

Is Customer Service Dead?

I have to ask where has customer service gone and if it is still practiced, how low can it go? Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?” The worst part, this customer service disaster story happened in a tourist information centre.

Al and I were in Western Australia. We had just arrived in Margaret River, which I might add is a very beautiful part of Australia. We had no idea where to stay so we thought we would go to the Tourist Information Centre which was very conveniently located right on the main street.

It was a busy place so we dutifully stood in line to wait our turn to be served by the young girl at the counter.  After a 5-10 minute wait, it was our turn. The conversation went something like this:

“We would like a room for the evening. We were thinking a nice little B&B perhaps overlooking a vineyard?”

(look at watch) “Do you realize it is 4:45 and we close at 5?”

“Does this mean we can’t book a room?”

“I will try to find you something, but we don’t have much time because we close at 5”

“Okay, we were looking for a quiet B&B”

“Let’s see what I can pull up on the computer. Here, I have a caravan park down the road?”

“We were not really interested in a caravan park, we were thinking a B&B?”

“Okay, let’s see what else I have. Oh, here’s another caravan park. This one is called Riverside!”

“Is this all we can get? Because we were kind of thinking about a B&B or something funky, with character!”

“What do you mean by funky?”

“Something different? Does the Riverside Caravan Park have a cabin overlooking the river?”

“No, it’s not on the river. (Look at watch again) What about a hotel built in the 1800s? Would that be considered funky? It’s nearby too!”

“Oh, that sounds great. That is what we meant by funky. So…it’s quite nice?”

“Yes, it’s very different because it is so old”. (look at watch again) “It’s called the Grange on Farrelly!”

“Okay, we will take it if we can get a room.”

She quickly gave us the confirmation number and the address and sent us on our way. After all, it was now 5 and she wanted out of there. She had told us to look for the round sign with 1886 written on the front gate. Sounded so quaint! What seemed like a very painful conversation might have turned out to be worth it in the end.

We drove up and down the street, but couldn’t find the place. The only accommodation was a Comfort Inn motel!

It finally dawned on us. Round sign? We checked the address and yup, it was the typical late 60’s, early 70’s Comfort Inn! On the front gate as we drove in we saw the little sign, 1885! Turns out only the restaurant is from the 1885, the rest of the hotel was built around it much later on! No view, no spa tub, no tub at all! At least we got to park right outside our room!

I am left to wonder, were there no B&B’s available? Did the girl get a “cut” if she booked us into one of these lower end accommodations?  Were her listening skills that poor that she never heard us say B&B? Or, more likely was she in such a hurry to get out of there that she just wanted to book us into “whatever” and then leave with no care in the world for our Margaret River experience? I suspect it is the latter. My only hope is that she decides on a career outside of tourism! Perhaps accounting would work for her as she was very good with numbers or at least the numbers on her watch!

Thankfully Margaret River and the surrounding area is so beautiful and has so much to offer that our night in the little motel did not deter us from having the time of our lives!

Finding the actual Tourist Information Centre (there is a sign pointing to it from the freeway, but that was it, no other sign after leaving the freeway) or for that matter ANY hotel in Bunbury was another story!

Are you intolerant, on a diet or just fussy?

Are you on a diet, fussy or are you celiac (gluten intolerant – also spelt coeliac)? I just read an article in a popular magazine. The article was entitled “Society Food Fight, Are you intolerant or just plain fussy?”

Nowadays it is “cool” to eat a wheat free diet. People use sensitivity to wheat or celiac disease as an excuse to diet. Restaurants are frustrated, chefs angry. Should they be? I don’t think so.

Whether you are a diagnosed celiac or just happen to be cutting carbs out of your diet, restaurants, cafes, airlines, whomever is serving food should cater to your needs. You are the customer!

I am a celiac (diagnosed by a doctor). I don’t tend to make a big deal out of it. I used to be the kind of person that preferred not to tell people. I would just say, “I don’t eat bread” or whatever it was I was being offered. I would be invited to a dinner party and take the attitude that surely there would be something I can eat instead of just telling the host in advance that I am celiac.

Nowadays, I make it known. I question everything when ordering in a restaurant. If I do accidentally eat something with gluten (it would have to be an accident because I adhere to my diet religiously) I burp loudly, have terrible stomach pains and horrible bouts of diarrhea. It is not worth it to make a mistake. It makes me so sick that Al (my partner) is just as adamant about my diet as I am.

I don’t often run into people who don’t take me seriously, but there have been a few occasions where the waitperson is fighting the opportunity to “roll their eyes” in disgust as they answer my questions. One of my worst experiences in public was flying business class with Air Canada. I had pre-ordered a gluten free meal. I was served pasta! After explaining to the flight attendant  why I would not be able to eat the meal, he informed me that it was all they had, but he would see what he could do. I was eventually served greens that had been scraped out of sandwiches (resplendent with butter scrapped off the bread). I was left embarrassed and hungry…in business class.  Thanks Air Canada!

It doesn’t matter that I truly couldn’t eat the food and was not “just on a diet” or fussy, it is important for society to get back to serving their customers. It is (in my view) a lost art.