Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quality Customer Service...All Too Uncommon

This morning I headed up to return an item at Best Buy, fairly certain I'd come back with a rant in my head about how Best Buy sucks and customer service is steadily going downhill in this country. I still agree with the latter, there seems to be little or no value placed on quality service at most retail establishments. However, today was one of the times I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and sincerely thank a customer service representative for being so helpful.

Some time last week I purchased a screen cleaner for my LCD television using a Best Buy gift card I had received for my birthday. Honestly, I don't do much shopping at stores anymore other than groceries. Some of this is due to convenience, some to increasingly poor customer service with businesses acting like they are doing you a favor by selling you a product. But, this is something I needed, and didn't care to wait on mail delivery for. When I opened the package, I noticed and orange insert that instructed the user to consult their TV's owner's manual first to see if this type of cleaner was acceptable. Sure enough, my manual said that it was not - I should instead simply use a soft, damp cloth.

When I went to the store today, the camera-watcher at the fron placed a sticker on my item marking it as a return and pointed me towards the customer service desk. I waited for maybe five minutes for someone returning a TV (perhaps he took a chance and used this cleaner without consulting his manual). When my turn came up, I explained the situation, and after the rep read the orange insert and looked to be sure all contents were present said the return was no problem. I gave her my receipt. She apologized for the computers working "slower than usual", and began to ring in the item.

Suddenly, a problem arose. The extra amount of the purchase (beyond what the gift card was good for) was paid for using a debit card...my wife's debit card. I remembered that when making the purchase I had given the item and gift card to my wife, so that she could use whatever else was on there to fund her purchase of some cell phone accessory. The remining balance she paid for with her debit card. I explained. The rep told me that purchases using debit cards were refunded in cash, and since my wife was not here she didn't think she would be able to give me "her cash". Annoying, yes. But, I understood.

Then something amazing happened. The rep asked me to wait while she checked with someone else!! What we as customers expect from customer service was actually happening. Right here in front of my eyes. I waited. Another woman came over, they talked. She said it was fine, and I think may have showed her how to put it into the computer. That was it. I was given cash for the balance paid for in cash, and a gift card with the remaining balance on it. I was given no grief. No spiel about how "we normally don't do this", and how I should feel lucky that they are "helping me out". Nothing of this sort was said, nor was it presented in attitude or facial expression.

"There you go", she said.
"Great. Thanks for your help", I said.
"You're welcome. Have a great day."
"Thanks. You too."

And that is how customer service is done. Sigh.