My story with Dave, the kids, Cooper, VW's & rugby

The Importance of Good Customer Service

If you are wanting to experience good customer service then I would advise not to come shopping in Ripon …lol .. or probably not any town centre at the moment as they are pretty much as bad as each other. That’s probably a sweeping statement that will get lots of independant shop keepers up in arms but I think many need a boot up the backside sometimes as they really take customers for granted.

At Bronco when the recession started Dave and I made a really big conscious effort to do everything in the best way we could, maintain high levels of customer service and be there when needed by clients (whatever the hour). It has certainly paid off as the company is stronger than ever with an impressive client list and lots of potential clients wanting to work with us which is great. We run our business on reputation and referrals so we make sure that we look after that above all else… the staff come a very close second!

So what is the reason for the rant today? … Well most of the times I physically go into a shop to buy something I am left feeling disappointed about the service and wish there was the store manager available at the exit door so that I could complain directly rather than grumbling to myself on my way out. I’m not sure if it is the general service in shops that is dropping … or my expectations are getting higher?

One bug bear that I have is “carrier bags”. I am the sort of person who doesn’t plan to go to a certain shop to buy a certain amount of stuff, so I don’t carry loads of spare crumpled carrier bags with me. It REALLY annoys me in Sainsburys in Ripon when they claim they are trying to do their bit for the environment (that’s being screwed a lot more by other countries rather than the UK) so don’t readily provide carrier bags. Today Dave & I popped into Sainsbury’s and picked up some bits for lunch. The checkout assistant who was a bit of a dullard didn’t even bother to offer a carrier, but continued to shove all the items down the checkout. I’m not sure if she was expecting us to carry everything out loose, but Dave at the end had to ask for a bag. Its these little things that really make me wonder why I bother spending my hard earned cash in places where everything is an effort.

To top it off in Sainsburys they always ask if you have a Nectar card … and in the last few years I have always said No, but never been offered one .. how bizarre! I’m sure if I did ask for one there would be a dull look from the checkout, as they probably don’t have a response for that question.

What I don’t get is why would supermarkets / stores want you bringing in someone elses carrier bag in and then carrying their goods away in it. They don’t benefit from any advertising .. like going to Sainbury’s and filling your Aldi bags with their food … or going to Next and taking a Primark bag with you. Crazy .. plus carrier bags are a tiny proportion of the rubbish that we have and many people reuse carrier bags at home for bin bags or to put things in. Alot of fuss about nothing if you ask me.

The second thing that annoyed me tonight was in Argos in Ripon when I wanted to get the kids a couple of PSP games. One of the games could only be bought at the counter, so there I waited in a queue. The queue was being served by I think the slowest people around who took forever to solve simple queries. One had to go and ask their manager to solve a problem, but instead of going efficiently to ask the manager they dragged themselves there and back. I ended up leaving the queue and the store and chucking away my slip of paper with the stock codes on. When I got home I went straight to Game online and ordered the PSP games over the web, in the comfort of my own home, with no need to interact with checkout people who really don’t care.

The high street closing down

The high street closing down

One prediction for the future is that as the shop keepers and town managers become increasingly concerned about shops becoming vacant, this is only set to continue if the big chain stores, who knit town centres together, don’t pull their finger out and get their staff motivated and trained in customer service. They may not enjoy their job but at least they have a job and they are getting paid to be happy, helpful and efficient.

I have found myself over the last few years slowly migrating from the high street to the web mainly as we are in this industry, but the general public will catch up in the next few years and realise that they can get most things on the internet. The last few things I have bought online in the last few weeks includes a garden shed, groceries for work & home, a holiday, a campervan (sourced, but went to view), Molton Brown toiletries, train tickets, plane tickets, hotel rooms, tickets for HMS Belfast in London, PSP’s, books, Tamiflu, AA roadside cover (for the campervan), kids school uniform name tags, and a picture. There’s probably other things but I can’t think of them all.

As ecommerce websites continue to make it easier to buy online, with Accounts set up that store your details so you can literally add to your basket and checkout, to me there won’t be the need to go to shops which will free up the weekends for sure, but make for a very quiet high street. This is where my other future prediction comes into play, that in years to come property developers will be buying up high streets and market squares to make what were once shops into swanky flats.

Photography by johnthurm


  • Karyn

    Clicked through to this post because of a RT, and then saw it was about Ripon! So I feel practically obliged to comment…

    I don’t think that you’ll put the independents’ backs up, because your targets are the big multiples. I’m sure that shoddy customer service at Argos has been par for the course since time immemorial; don’t know how they manage it, mind.

    Personally, my experience of Ripon shopping is that the independents provide great customer service, perhaps because like Bronco, the owner-managers are keen to keep their customers happy. Shopping here does tend to be very slooooooow, mainly because all the customers like to chat to the shopkeepers (& vice versa), but I guess that’s in keeping with Ripon city life generally! Can’t complain.

  • Dom Hodgson

    I’ll be honest, this is where Apple have impressed me, I’m a windows guy at heart but Apple really have the customer service down to an art, the Genius bar is a fantastic idea and I’ve not seen one problem not get solved with speed and a smile, my mac is covered with windows stickers and when I took it in the apple guys and girls were having a joke about it.

    Caius (housemate) recently took his airport extreme in as it wasn’t working properly, the product was 2 YEARS out of warrenty and it was just on a whim he tried, the genius looked at it, heard the problem and replaced it for free there and then…

    I probably will end up buying a mac next time.. not for the OS, not for the form factor or prettyness but for damn good customer service

  • Chis

    I went to a retail park on in Leicester (St Georges) on Saturday with £600 in my pocket and child like excitement at the prospect of spending it on a new laptop.

    Working with websites, the screen resolution was on the top of my wish list, nothing worse than having to open and close toolbars so you can see your work. But have a guess how many retailers from Currys, Comet and PC World made this simple bit of information accessible to me? – 0! Only 1 girl knew how to find this information for me (display setting on desktop), so I had to stand there with my phone Googleing the product names.

    Also, guess how many of them would chuck in a £15 mouse without me having to buy an rip-off extended warranty? – 0!

    I gave all 3 retailers the chance to make a potential £600 sale, they all failed.

    I ended up going home (with my money) and ordering from Dell, I may have to wait 2-3 weeks but at least I was able to make an informed decision on what to spend my cash on.

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  • David Arnold

    I agree with all your comments ,however for some unknown reason the store assistants in South Wales seem to go out of thier way to be rude,unhelpfull and frankly dont give a stuff especially in the Tesco Supermarkets,probably they get paid to much and think they are something special.