customer service

or lack of.

this is something I’ve noticed since I’ve been in Australia – there is such a lack of customer service here its sometimes a shock.  Good old Blighty used to have the same problem, well at least from the point of view of Americans who view the sickly sweet false smile “have a nice day but I spat in your latte” view of service as the epitome of politeness.

England  (my limited experience says that the Welsh and Irish have it sorted by and large, the Scots could do with some polish) had a service revolution in the 90’s and became customer focussed with a passion.  Its kind of tailed off in the “noughties” and I’m was seeing a return to the bad old days before I left.  But Australia, well, Perth specifically, I have no experience of elsewhere, is just terrible.   Thats not to say people are rude, that’s not it at all, they’re just visibly indifferent.  Supermarkets, clothes shops, cafe’s, the Post Office – all the same.    Lacklustre, surly and treating the customer as a chore and a bother.  There are some shining exceptions – some cafe’s and shops offer tremendous service and really have it sorted, but there’s no middle ground – its all or nothing.

I don’t know if its just a West Australian thing, or if its Oz as a whole, or if its maybe just where I live in particular, but there seems to be a distinct lack of corporate customer focus.  Some individuals in shops or restaurants will bend over backwards and are just a joy, but mostly, you get apathetic service.

When I used to work in Waitrose (supermarket)  in the 80’s, we, as 16 year olds, were grilled in orientation and continuous training that the customer was king – if they asked you a question, you found out the answer, if they wanted to know where something was, you didnt tell them, you showed them and made sure they were happy before continuing your work.  Not seen that anywhere here at all.  The opposite if anything, shop staff, particularly in the big stores and supermarkets block isles with stock, chat together and avoid eye contact with customers lest they actually be required to represent the store in any way and don’t have initiative when it comes to “where can I find the..” quesitons.  Some staff do care and are okay, most wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire.

Dymmocks the book shop is an exception – Angus and Robertson too actually, maybe bookshops in general  – they seem to hire clued up people who do know what they have, where it is, and if they don’t have it in stock, can happily recommend some alternatives.

The first big store that brings back customer first service will be head and shoulders above the competition and clean up.

Have a nice day, wont you 🙂

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