All Hail the Queen of Shops!

January 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Now I don’t watch a lot of TV these days but Mary Portas never fails to keep me entertained.  She is inspirational, entrepreneurial, motivated and a complete genius!  To put in plainly, I want her career.

If you didn’t catch her new show this evening on channel 4, I’ll give you a quick synopsis:  Mary Portas (retail genius) goes undercover on the UK’s high street and makes the discovery of discoveries – that Primark, H&M and Pilot are not providing a decent level of customer service.  Pilot was the focus of Mary’s energies and the company was in dire need of a kick up the bum, and I quote: “Shall I go & see if that woman’s alright”, say’s one hair twiddling, gum-chewing sales assistant to her supervisor, “Nah, she’ll live” was the reply.  Boy oh boy, Mary really had her work cut out for her.  So off she went to see the MD who turned out to be a profit driven, delusional, man.  To cut a long programme short, Mary convinced the MD to give the customer more of an experience by giving the fitting rooms a much needed facelift,  and in turn motivating the staff to give better customer service.  The concept works of course and is rolled out to Pilot’s other 42 stores.  I’ll wait with baited breath to see how that goes…

Mary really has hit the nail on the head, as a consumer nation we have been blinded into thinking that low pricing ensues poor or completely non existent customer service.  I am guilty of this.  But the reality is that there are disgruntled shoppers everywhere.  So according to Mary – and if I were you I’d do everything she says – we should take a stand!  Following her advice, if you don’t receive adequate service with a smile – ask to speak to the manager.  Be bold, frank and state clearly that the service you have received, or not received as the case may be, isn’t good enough.  Put your purse away, and walk out the door.

While this is good advice and clearly what you deserve as a customer of a multi-million pound profit grossing retailer, why not give the sales assistant a smile back.  A little bit of respect goes a long way and I’m sure that a once unwilling assistant will be on-hand to help you if you give them the chance.  It seems simple that further training and improvements in the service a retailer provides not only benefits it’s customers – who are parting with their hard earned cash – but helps to motivate it’s staff too.

Retailers have a lot to learn from the king of customer service, John Lewis.  They install a basic 3 minute timeframe within which sales assistants must approach the customer.  The sales assistants are always knowledgeable and helpful in their advice.  While another surprising high street retailer doesn’t work so hard on the approach, Poundland never fail to impress me with their cheery smiles and friendly patter at the cash desk.  If I were to list all the retailers who have failed to impress me in the customer service stakes I would quite literally be over my word count.  Primark are at the top of my list given their shoddy stores, filthy fitting rooms and quite frankly appalling service.  Let’s hope Mary Portas gives them what for next week on her secret shopping expeditions!

Have you experienced superior customer service in an unexpected environment or have you been left blown away by a serious lack of it?  Let me know your thoughts.


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