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Looking after you Christmas Customer Crowds

A Christmas shopping trip to Swindon yesterday ... and so many chances to see how others do the "customer service" thing, with more lessons learnt on what to avoid than what to emulate!

Our initial stop in a big chain of computer stores, where we have a business account; just a few odds and ends needed, but what a struggle to work the system which involved noting down information from one screen on a piece of paper, and re-entering it on another screen. Then the system (or rather one of them) exited unexpectedly and the whole thing had to be done again ... except that the crash had locked access to the stock saying it was "already allocated". Moral - if you must have a system this complex, set it up so that you can handle customers efficiently and deal with issues when they're done

The shoe store - the one who advertises that they've done away with "Shoe Rage" - have an excellent stock up to size 8. And it gets weaker at size 9. So if the 8's don't quite fit ... you can see the new shoe rage as the ones you want aren't available in your size. Select second best, and stand in a long line at the till for one checkout assistant, while another till is being used, it appears, for data entry by the supervisor who is chatting with one of the other staff. Moral - If it's beneath you as a manager to serve your ordinary customers, at least don't antagonize them by blocking a till - do your data entry and staff interviews in your office.

The Hamburger joint - service much more efficient. But I do wonder about their play area, with the sign that says "we have strived to give you the safest possible play area" ... around a depressing high-fenced area just outside the store, with a rubber floor but not one single piece of play equipment. Moral - you can take safety just one step too far and look very silly by doing so.

Burger King Play Area, Swindon

The buzz of Swindon's town center was a pre-Christmas crowd and an Italian Market on Canal Walk (walk where the canal used to be!) gave a great atmosphere. A gift, card and party store showed us that "New Shoe rage" isn't limited just to shoes - one assistant serving, others doing what were admin tasks being on the tills which, surely, could have been left until the queue that snaked up the aisle had been cleared.

And so on to Hawkin's Bazaar - a real "scrum" where we we buying around a hundred pounds worth of stocking fillers. Tripping over others, steering around the checkout queues, but I have to admit it was fun. Some items previously selected on line couldn't be found, so not all a "bed of roses" but I noted that the young and cheerful staff work working the tills, then when the queue had been busted were stocking shelves and helping customers. I felt a little guilty about asking one of them about a two pound pack of pencils, and a couple of other things, but she happily took the queries and had them fixed (a couple of "out of stock"s and a couple of "online only"s) and a couple of "they're here" items to help us. And at checkout with a LONG ribbon of a checkout role ... took only a half the time of our 3 items at the PC place. Moral - a cheerful and efficient staff who put themselves in the customer's shoes and deal with issues can be ruddy magic!

We're back in Swindon on the Santa Special next Saturday. Now - can I find an excuse to visit Hawkin's?
(written 2007-11-26, updated 2007-11-27)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
M400 - Well House Manor - The Hospitality Business
  [4613] Our best hotel customers help us ... to help them ... be our best customers. - (2016-01-04)
  [4603] Happy New Year. Our customers are our ambassadors - (2016-01-01)
  [4543] Saturday morning at Well House Manor - (2015-10-17)
  [4521] Should we get an AA or Visit Wiltshire hotel assessment? - (2015-10-09)
  [4321] Are administration / review charges on hotel guests acceptable? - (2014-11-20)
  [4232] Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy - (2013-12-30)
  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4051] On reading a new hotel review - (2013-03-24)
  [4033] Official Star ratings for hotels - still worth having? - (2013-03-07)
  [3988] Three cheers for the staff at Well House Manor - (2013-01-24)
  [3909] Every Customer Counts - (2012-11-01)
  [3838] Guest review - Well House Manor, Melksham - (2012-08-14)
  [3832] A busy day at Well House Manor - so come in and make it even busier! - (2012-08-10)
  [3743] Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28)
  [3660] A Pivotal Incident - learning how to welcome your guests - (2012-03-18)
  [3309] Tipping Policy - Well House Manor - (2011-05-29)
  [3164] Brown - or Mrs Sally Brown, accountant from Whitstable? - (2011-02-10)
  [3147] Hotel star ratings - towards a better system of review - (2011-01-25)
  [2936] The service that customers should receive - (2010-08-27)
  [2879] Night Porter and reception - 24 hours a day? - (2010-07-20)
  [2724] Escapee Grandparents welcome - Henfield and Melksham - (2010-04-15)
  [2593] Food and drink launch - (2010-01-21)
  [2303] Turning potential customers away - (2009-07-24)
  [2283] Everyone is in the customer relations business - (2009-07-12)
  [2007] Launch of Melksham Food and Drink Festival - (2009-01-24)
  [1877] Guests doing a bunk? - (2008-11-09)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1622] An extra step - victory from defeat - (2008-04-25)
  [1548] Hotelympia - show report - the lighter side - (2008-02-21)
  [1422] Wiltshire - speaker / after dinner talker offer - (2007-11-05)
  [1421] Castle Lodge Hotel, Ely, Cambridgeshire - (2007-11-04)
  [1284] An update on the West Wilts show ... - (2007-07-30)
  [1248] How NOT to oversell a hotel - (2007-06-27)
  [1180] Conjugation - (2007-05-08)
  [1161] A contrast in room rates and facilities - (2007-04-25)
  [1122] Hotel - online feedback forms compared - (2007-03-30)
  [1108] Express service - (2007-03-14)
  [1084] Writing terms and conditions for conferences and other events - (2007-02-17)
  [1048] Getting rid of people - hotel techniques - (2007-01-21)
  [1046] Bounce, bounce, bounce - (2007-01-20)
  [1002] Meet the neighbours - (2006-12-20)
  [988] You should think you're first in a hotel room - (2006-12-15)
  [922] Staying at your own hotel - (2006-11-12)
  [884] Drive time - (2006-10-02)
  [774] Bed and Breakfast, or Hotel? - (2006-06-22)


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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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