Random shopping bag pic because I don't like blogging without a pic.
Do you like shopping? I ask because when Chief's plans changed and he couldn't come down until Tuesday night I was left with a day off work I didn't want to just commit to housework (However, much I probably should have!) . I decided to pop off to Oxford to get some food treats from M&S for Chief. I thought it might be a good time to start looking (if not buying) potential gifts for Christmas. I may have lots of good intentions about a handmade Christmas; the reality is there are lots of people who won't appreciate handmade goods. There is also a strong likely hood that I may manage to make only a small percentage of what I intend.
If I'm honest shopping does not thrill me the way it did when I was in my teens and twenties. Back in those days a few quid in my pocket, a selection of interesting shops and I'd spend wisely coming home with a variety of treats to make me smile and feel like I'd had a good shop. Nowadays shopping feels like more of a chore, like it's lost it's magic. I sort of miss that feeling of excitement that shopping used to instill in me. The closest I get now is buying fabric online. Even that would be improved upon if I could actually go into a bricks and mortar fabric shop. I had been unable to put my finger on why shopping has lost it's sparkle for me and then three shops in Oxford turned that around.
You're probably sat there with bated breath (isn't that a yucky phrase? Sorry readers I don't mean to imply you all have halitosis.) wondering what on earth happened in these shops! Well, it all boiled down to excellent customer service. Friendly and helpful staff that genuinely seemed concerned I had a positive experience in their store. The first was Past Times. The sales assistant greeted me with a friendly smile the moment I walked in the door. She then pointed out the sales offers around the store. After awhile she asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. She offered to take the one item I had picked up to the till so I didn't have to cart it around with me. There was small talk at the till and this feeling that I was a VIP customer. I came away feeling that I'd had some service you'd associate with times past.
The second store to offer this great service was Fat Face. Again a greeting when I entered the store followed by did I need any help. When I bought something the sales assistant was chatty and friendly - to me! Yes, to me. If I sound surprised it's probably because the second store I went into in Oxford Covered Market (Don't know the name of the store) the staff were too busy talking to each other to notice me. In fact when I got closer to them to browse they dropped their voices as the conversation (about someone nearly dying from falling into so water?) was obviously private. At least it proved I was not invisible. They just wanted me to be. Don't you just hate this when you are waiting to be served?
The third store to bring back some shopping magic was Lush. The staff were friendly and then this one sales assistant was brilliant. He got me trying all kinds of products. Was knowledgeable and clearly passionate about their products. He was just so enthusiastic without being pushy hard selling person. He got me a basket to stop me having to juggle bubble bath while we played with the new shower jellies. We had a laugh together. It felt like I was shopping with a best girl friend.
As I mooched around other stores I came to realise the magic could be brought back to my retail experience if staff were just a little more interested without being pushy and friendly rather than aloof.
You know what I did when I got home? I googled to find contact details of these stores. So far only an email address for Lush customer services. (The other stores only appear to have contact emails for their online stores.) I dropped Lush a line and said how impressed I'd been with the service, particularly of this male sales assistant. When I checked my email today I'd had a lovely response back from Lush saying how pleased they were I had nice things to say and had sent such a lovely email. They told me they had passed on the comments to a delighted Oxford Store manager and that the comments would be passed on to Lush's top brass via their 'positive praise report' and the Oxford store would be recognised. So now I feel doubly good. In a time of economic recession more stores need to lift their game and maybe more customers need to recognise the efforts of those that do?