A few months ago (while in the midst of taxes), I was combing through all the large purchases made on my credit cards over the past few years and noticed that many of them were from the same few establishments, over and over. I thought this was interesting as even maybe five or ten years ago, my statements would have had a much larger diversity of merchants. I realized that over the years, I’ve had some either great customer experiences, or poor ones – and that these experiences have really driven my purchasing habits and captured my brand loyalty.
Since customer service experiences can have such an impact over what we buy and where we buy it, I thought I would share an example of one of my best, and one of my worst customer service encounters. For this post, I decided to focus on department stores.
I know that it’s almost become a little cliche to cite Nordstrom as a good customer service example, but hey, I’m a believer! I’ve never been let down by service twice there – which means, in the rare occasions, I haven’t had a good experience with a front line associate, a manager has always fixed it.
My first Nordstrom customer service story: In high school, I splurged on a pair of Kate Spade sunglasses, with a gradient lens. I was so proud of these glasses! They were something like $150 which meant it equated to at least 30 hours of waitressing drudgery. I wore them all the time, and especially on my head. Unfortunately, this must have stretched them out over time (I have a big head too – Mr. Feather affectionately calls me “The Bobble”). One day they fell off the kitchen counter, and broke into two pieces on the ground.
I went back to Nordstrom the next day to go shop for a replacement, and pulled out my broken pair in front of the sales associate . To my surprise, she whipped out a small eyeglasses screwdriver and tried to put the two pieces back together. “Should be easy,” she said, even though five minutes later it definitely appeared that it wouldn’t be.
“Well, in that case, we’ll just have to get you a new pair!” she said. I explained that the break was entirely my fault, but she simply shook her head. “We want you to be satisfied.” And I left that day with a replacement pair of sunglasses, gratis. Since then, I’ve always tried to make my designer purchases at Nordstrom whenever possible. I don’t expect a free item when things go wrong, especially when it’s my fault – but I do have the confidence that the store will “do the right thing” by the customer.
Worst: Barney’s Online.
I was recently told that Barney’s has been making concerted efforts to improve its online experience, but I’m not sure if I’ll be venturing back into those waters. I’ve made both full price and sale priced purchases on Barney’s over the past few years, and below are some of my experiences:
Example #1: Manolo BB pumps. Five days to process, then summarily cancelled and told “out of stock”. A week later, pumps still show as in my size, available and in stock, on the website. Customer service agent does not know, and doesn’t care to find out, if they are actually in stock.
Example #2: Sale Zanotti shoes. Order from Barney’s as $40 cheaper on sale than on Neiman Marcus’ site. Informed that the order is cancelled 8 days later. In the meantime, of course my size has sold out at Neiman Marcus.
Example #3: Balenciaga leather jacket. Purchased online, delivered in wrong size. Exchange in store, easy peasy. But what’s the point of buying online if I have to go to the store anyway? In the meanwhile, an email I sent customer service after I realized the wrong size was sent, is never answered.
Example #4: (This takes the cake!). Order a pair of Kirkwood booties. They are even on sale, and yet are fulfilled and shipped, and arrive in a timely fashion. Finally! I open the box, and realize that the shoes are two different sizes: 6.5 and 7. Online customer service suggests I call the Vegas store, where the shoes were shipped from, to see if I can find the missing 6.5 I need. Call the store, where they can’t find the 6.5, but the sales associate begs me to send back the shoes directly to her as her client wants the other 7. And she gives me a tip: “Don’t shop at Barney’s online. It’s awful.”
Enough said. What are some of your best, and worst, customer service experiences in department stores?