Author Topic: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?UPDATED  (Read 4879 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

weeblewobble

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3365
This isn't so much a "was this rude" question, as I know the behavior was rude.  Fortunately, it wasn't on my end. :) (This time.)  This is more of a "is this rational" question.

I travel around the country doing workshops at various stores, libraries, community centers, etc.  A store in the major US city where my parents live contacted me about the possibility of doing a workshop there. My mom happened to be visiting at the time and agreed to take my usual information packet to the store's manager the next day when she went home.  Normally, I wouldn't involve my mom in this "loop" but it was the equivalent of free overnight shipping and it's hard to pass that up. I told the manager I had an acquaintance in the area who would deliver the information to her.  She said great. All was good.

Mom called the next day to tell me that she'd delivered the packet to the store, but that the experience had been "weird."  She took the packet to the store and went to the customer service desk.  There were two employees standing behind the desk, literally four feet from where mom was standing, facing her, and they ignored her for several minutes while they had a personal conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with the store.  Mom waited... and waited, until she finally said, "Excuse me, is there someone who could help me?" Employee 1 held up his hand, without looking at her, and said, "Just a minute." then continued his conversation!

Mom stood there, a little shocked, for several minutes, until Employee 1 decided it was time to talk to her.  He asked her what she wanted.  She explained that she needed to drop off an info packet for the manager.  Employee 2 pointed to another staff member across the store and said, "Maybe she can help you."

Mom walked across the store, talked to the other employee, who was more helpful, and left the information.  She walked out of the store and smiled at the employees behind the customer service desk.  Employee 2 rolled his eyes at her.

Now, my mom does not lie or exaggerate when it comes to this sort of thing.  If anything, she would avoid telling me this story, because she would want me to set up the workshop so I could come to her city and visit.  So for her to tell me about it, it must have been pretty bad.  I asked around my Facebook friends in this geographic area and a few of them had been to this store and had similar unfriendly experiences with the staff.

So now, I'm a little torn on whether I want to agree to do an event in this location.  Would it be irrational to try to withdraw from any sort of interactions with the management and suddenly become "unavailable" to them because they were rude to my mom?  For the record, I haven't agreed to a date or any concrete details for the workshop.  This is very much in the initial stages.  So it would just be a matter of "not being able" to find a mutual date that worked.

Sure, maybe the staff was just having a bad day.  And it may be a little unfair to judge them based on an interaction with my mother.  Because I love my mom and my hackles tend to rise when someone treats her badly.  But at the same time, other people I know had similar experiences. And I don't want to send people to a business where they will be treated rudely.  I think that reflects badly on me.

Any thoughts on this?
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 02:20:13 PM by weeblewobble »

Outdoor Girl

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 14256
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 04:47:52 PM »
I don't think you are being irrational at all.  I certainly wouldn't want to do business with a store that would allow their staff to treat customers so rudely.  And the fact that you have other friends who've had similar experiences confirms your mother's experience.

Honestly, I don't think you should just be unavailable.  I'd tell the store manager why you were no longer interested in doing business with him.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

kherbert05

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 10479
    • Trees downed in my yard by Ike and the clean up
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 05:09:28 PM »
Are your workshops for the employees or the public?


If they are for the public, you need to consider this. They were rude to your Mom. Your friends that have been to this store have had similar experiences with being treated badly - so there seems to be a pattern. Do you want these employees, who have a pattern of being rude to the general public, to be dealing with your customers?


If this is something that requires registration - they are going to be your representative to your customers signing them up. Even if it is an open we are doing this at X time Y location come event, they will be fielding questions about your event and will be your public face at this location?


I know it isn't rational, but I would be less inclined to go or recommend your workshop to my friends if the venue staff treated me rudely.
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

weeblewobble

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3365
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 05:12:04 PM »
It's for the public, so those are good points all around.

SiotehCat

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3709
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 05:15:21 PM »
I would not be providing my services to anyone(business or person) who is rude to my mother.

I would call the manager and tell him about my mothers experience.

MOM21SON

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3059
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 05:49:56 PM »
Regardless of what you decide, the manager/owner needs to be told about this.  They can't fix something if they don't know about it. 

And, I wouldn't do it to prove my point.

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8532
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 08:38:07 PM »

If it were a single case of bad service I don't think I'd withdraw - any store can have a bad incident.  But you have a single well documented case of very bad service, and upon checking you've found that this is a pattern at the store. If bad service is a pattern, it's usually linked to bad management, which does directly affect what you're doing.

So I think withdrawing is wise for your sake, and the manager/owner needs to be told. I think that telling them that your acquaintance received terrible service when dropping off the info packet, and that you subsequently discovered this store has a reputation for bad service, so you aren't comfortable doing a workshop somewhere where the participants will be treated rudely.


magician5

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3490
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 11:04:20 PM »
Sure, maybe the staff was just having a bad day.  And it may be a little unfair to judge them based on an interaction with my mother.

Neither of these things matter. This isn't an issue of feelings, it's an issue of very bad management.
There is no 'way to peace.' Peace is the way.

GrammarNerd

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 569
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 11:20:30 PM »
I have to throw this out there....what if your mother hadn't been your mother, but a paid employee that represented your company (or what you do)?  I bet you wouldn't be second-guessing yourself then.

For professionalism, they failed.

If their lack of professionalism/customer service could reflect badly on you, I would lay that out there for the manager, if they should contact you to actually book you for the gig.


bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12478
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 11:07:14 AM »
I think it is up to you...are you getting a hinky feeling about this store and think it is going to be more trouble than it is worth? 

You could do no follow up and wait to see if they contact you...if they do contact you much later asking what is going on then you could tell the story of how customer service was when your associate (don't have to mention it was your mom) dropped off the packet and based on that you didn't think they were interested in working with the public.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5560
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 11:20:00 AM »
I think there are two lines you could pursue here. One would be for your mom to complain to the store about the poor service she received, never mind what she was at the store for. If the management's response did not impress you (relayed to you by your mom), you could always be "unable to find a good date" if they contact you about the workshop, without mentioning why. They won't know the two things are linked, but at least they will have heard about the poor service.

The other line would be for you to contact management and complain about the poor service your representative received, with further concerns about how this level of service would affect the public who attends the workshop. If management is not responsive, then you can tell them directly that you don't want to work with them further, and they will know why.
~Lynn2000

Zilla

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6506
    • Cooking
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2013, 11:24:46 AM »
I think it's two different things.  I don't know what you do but let's pretend it's a demo with coupons.  This has nothing to do with management and service up front, and it won't reflect on you in the slightest as you will be positioned near where the product is that you are demoing.


If you do cancel on them, then it reflects badly on you as you are forcing the company you work for send someone else out OR lose out on the potential business that store may get their product because you didn't like how someone treated your mother.  That's not a conversation I would have with my boss.


In the end, you need to treat it as two different scenarios.  Let your mom lodge a complaint and work it out. 

MommyPenguin

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4562
    • My blog!
Re: Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 12:19:08 PM »
I think it's two different things.  I don't know what you do but let's pretend it's a demo with coupons.  This has nothing to do with management and service up front, and it won't reflect on you in the slightest as you will be positioned near where the product is that you are demoing.


If you do cancel on them, then it reflects badly on you as you are forcing the company you work for send someone else out OR lose out on the potential business that store may get their product because you didn't like how someone treated your mother.  That's not a conversation I would have with my boss.


In the end, you need to treat it as two different scenarios.  Let your mom lodge a complaint and work it out.

But she hasn't booked yet with them.  They're just exploring the possibility (she was giving them an information packet), and if it worked out they'd schedule the date.  I imagine something along the lines of a craft store that gives demonstrations of crafts in their teaching room.  And as others have said, it doesn't matter that it's her mother, it's somebody that she asked to deliver an information packet to the manager.  If she'd hired somebody to drop off, and they'd mentioned the problem, would that have changed things?  She didn't like the customer service that her assistant received.  With something like a craft store, by doing her demonstration there, she's bringing people into the store and possibly bringing the store some addition customers, and the store is sending people her way by advertising in store.  Both implicitly endorse the other by becoming involved.  So if people who are somewhat interested in, say, Doohickey Attachment, see on her website or somewhere that she's doing a Doohickey Attachment demonstration at Jenny's Craft store and then go to the craft store, only to be treated rudely by the store... that might sour their opinion of  OP's Doohickey Attachment Corporation, even if it has nothing to do with the store other than a venue.  It's also unclear whether the OP works for a company that would send somebody else out, or whether she's on her own (in which case there just wouldn't be any demonstration or whatever to begin with).

OP, I'd complain to management about the treatment that your "assistant" received and mention that you've heard some other similar complaints, and ask them what steps they are taking to improve customer service before you schedule your event there.  See what they say.  If they tell you that they have gotten some complaints and they are doing their best to track down which employees are a problem and to work on training, that's one thing.  If they say there's no problem, they don't know what you're talking about, etc., then I'd just tell them that you don't want to send customers to a store with such unfriendly employees, and you'd be happy to reconsider in the future if the service attitude changed.

weeblewobble

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3365
UPDATE: Well, I was going to mull this over for a few days, but the manager (who was perfectly professional and polite) called to follow up with me earlier today. I ended up following my hinky-meter/your advice. The conversation went something like this:

Me: This is very uncomfortable for me. But I'm afraid it won't be possible to schedule a workshop in your store at this time.

Manager (clearly taken aback by my sudden shift in opinion over the course of a few days):  I'm sorry? 

Me: I sent an acquaintance into your store over the weekend to drop off an information packet for you. She went to the front desk and was at first ignored by two of your employees, while they carried on a non-work related conversation. (brief description of Employees 1 and 2).  She asked for help, one of them told her, "just a minute" while they finished their conversation. When they asked her what she wanted, she told them she needed to leave an information packet for you. They directed her to another employee, across the store, and said, "Maybe she can help you."  They both treated her as if she was an annoyance.  My acquaintance went to (Helpful Employee's Name) for help. Helpful Employee was much more accommodating and very polite.  When my acquaintance left your store, she smiled at one of the employees she spoke to earlier, and he rolled his eyes at her.

Manager: (Completely Silent for a very long moment.)

Me: The whole experience gives me second thoughts about doing an event at your location.  Your employees would be temporarily representing me while they interact with customers who want to participate in a workshop.  And I can't take the risk of employees alienating customers with rudeness and damaging my reputation.  I am very sorry because I was really looking forward to working with you. Perhaps after a few months, when you've had time to discuss this with your staff, we can try to schedule an event.

Manager: (sounding very, very angry, but definitely not at me).  I am very sorry that your representative was unhappy after her visit.  And I'm sorry you don't feel comfortable coming to our location. I would definitely like to speak to you in a few months about re-scheduling- after we've had time to do some 're-training.'

(And by 're-training,' I got the impression she meant 'firing' or 'beating the unruly employees like a pinata full of rude candy.')

Me: Thanks.  I look forward to it.

So, the conversation ended on a good note.  :)  Thanks for all of your help!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 02:22:08 PM by weeblewobble »

Outdoor Girl

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 14256
Great update.  And I love your pinata comment.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario