Thursday, 20 October 2011

Positive Retail Experiences

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?


  1. Yes, these are both shops that I enjoy going into in Glasgow because they seem to instil good customer service into all their staff. I also find Gap and one of my local fabric shops the same way, although funnily enough the BEST service I get is from a shop I get a smoothie from every few Fridays - I hadn't been for a few months with one thing and another, and yet I walked in last week, they greeted me like an old friend, and knew exactly what my order would be without me even asking.

    Great customer service goes a long way towards making your day great, and in the same way bad customer service just makes you want to go home in disgust without spending money anywhere

  2. Funnily enough, we had a Lush open in Stirling maybe...I dunno, last year? I've only been in a few times but their staff are always awesome! Just like you say, friendly and knowledgeable but without an obvious hard sell. I always come out with something they've drawn my attention to! Maybe this positive praise scheme thingie is really working for them?

  3. Funnily enough, one of my bloggy/now real friends works for Lush and she had already said that that culture is instilled in their hopefully your great experience is being replicated across the UK :)

  4. It is SO nice to read about GOOD retail experiences!
    Oh I do agree with you on this! I've never been much of a shopper anyway, but some shops are just so NOT good at customer service. But when they ARE good at it, I'm way more likely to stop in again. Too bad those stores are a bit too far for me to visit them!

  5. Glad you had a good time shopping - when it's good it's really good and when it's bad, shopping is awful!!
    I think it's ace that you put so much effort into giving positive feedback as I bet most shops only get negative feedback when things aren't right.
    The best customer service I get is in our local veg shop - you get fruit, veg, holiday recommendations, they entertain the kids while I find everything I need, they will carry the sacks of spuds to the car, and they always remember things we have been up to and treat us like friends when we arrive in their shop.!

  6. In our wee shop we always say hello when a customer comes in and of course if they are a quilter looking for help it is right up my street. However, it is amazing how many rude customers we get too - they will come in and say "give me such and such" - I always want to say "and what's the magic word?" and then the ones who answer their phones in the middle of a transaction..........well!!

  7. I miss shops! I do find it incredible in England how it is possible to do an entire transaction sometimes without a single word being spoken whereas here everyone says hello and goodbye and are generally friendly. Good to hear your positive experiences.

  8. Wow I'm coming to Oxford!
    I never go in Lush, I think I would just pass out from the perfume - but at least I know the staff would pick me up not just step over me!

  9. Well said Jan! Customer service is generally bad in Belfast city - makes me hate the shopping experience even more than I already do! Glad you were able to get some lovely buys though. Enjoy! jxo

  10. Hear hear! I got great customer service in a little Clarks shop this afternoon - the lady offered to order me some boots in the two sizes I wanted to try on, said she'd hold onto them slightly longer than is policy as I wouldn't be back in the town for a fortnight and then advised me to visit their website to get a 20% off voucher that I could use if the boots fit - I went out smiling from ear to ear!

  11. Customer service... it's huge. Some people just don't understand.

  12. Good customer service makes all the difference in the world. I see you have a White Stuff bag in your photo. That is one shop that I love - nice staff, clothes I love and not one of those shops that make me feel ancient the minute I walk through the door!

  13. Good customer service makes all the difference in the world. I see you have a White Stuff bag in your photo. That is one shop that I love - nice staff, clothes I love and not one of those shops that make me feel ancient the minute I walk through the door!

  14. how nice to read about positive customer service! i think thats one of the reasons I dread going in to shops nowadays. Sadly the worst for customer service is Tesco where I live, I could drive miles to go somewhere else but I don't have the time. Well done for taking the time to contact the companies.


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