Monday, December 3, 2007

Customer Service Awards

Where I shop is greatly determined by customer service, but you already know that because I bet you're the same way. If the vaccuum is running at 8:30 pm on a weeknight and all of the sales associates are gossiping in the back, I'm not going to buy there (unless the goods are super-cute and there is a massive sale). Unfortunately, great service is hard to find, especially at the retail giants, so here are two stories to hearten your soul during these frenzied shopping days.

About a year ago I was searching for a casual coat of the short black puffy variety. I ended up ordering this one from Lands' End, hoping for the best but knowing that it would be too boxy and matronly on me and that I would end up returning it. After I received the coat and verified its boxy-ness and matronly-ness, I immediately put it back in its box and placed it in my closet, where it lived for a little over 11 months (in the meantime, I ordered this from Bluefly, toasty and slim-fitting).

This weekend, I finally decided to get rid of it via donation. But then I saw the packing slip that said that I could return at any time. Oh really? I called to see if they meant it. I dialed the number and popped some food in my big mouth because I knew that I would have at least 3 minutes of automation. But then a human answered right off the bat! After a near-choking incident, I asked her if I could return after 11 months. She said "no problem." Really! I returned it to Sears as she instructed and all my money came back. Bravo to you, Lands' End, for accommodating lazy but well-meaning returners.

The second award goes to Nordstrom. This happened a year ago, but it is the pinnacle of customer service in my book, so I must mention it here. I went in searching for black peep-toe pumps. The sales guy, who was fabulously gay and a shopping girl's dream, really knew his stuff. He showed me all of the black pumps, and I was kind of lukewarm on them, and that's when he read my mind and showed me what I really came to buy: red patent pumps. Before I committed to anything, he asked me how I liked the Frye boots that I was wearing. "Love them," I said. Because I do! I would have never tried them on because they look so masculine, but my friend Charlene convinced me and once they were on my feet. . . they are so undeniably cool. I digress. Anyhow, my fancypants shoe guy told me that they were "not wearing well" for just being a year old and that we should "change them out." Apparently the salt that melts snow can also discolor boots? And then he ran back and fetched me a brand new pair of boots, gratis. That's right. I bought the pumps, which incidentally weren't even that expensive (picture these in a deep ruby red):

and I still love them and wear them to this day. But that's not all--the sales guy calls 2 days later, to see how they were working out for me.

There is a bit of a sad ending in that I have not seen or heard from that shoe guy since. Was it all a dream? Sometimes I think he was fired for giving me the new pair of expensivo boots. Other times I think he moved on to Neiman's. The bottom line, however, is that the shopping experience was excellent even without the free boots because the guy knew shoes and acted like he gave a crap about me, his customer.

Good work Lands' End and Nordstrom; I am your customer for life.


JJ said...

I'm calling your Fryes (and mine) "motorcycle boots" because it makes us tough.

Richie Designs said...

those are fantastic customer service stories. I heart nordies

s. said...

Thanks for sharing these stories. People are more than twice as likely to tell others about BAD customer service as they are to tell of GOOD experiences, so bravo for you for cheering up a blah wintry day with tales of free boots and humans on the other end of the phone.

Alison said...

Since we're tossing out 5 star awards - Here's to Patagonia.
I simply inquired about repairing the zipper on a 10 year old classic ski parka, but, GUESS WHAT?!?!?!
Patagonia replaced the decade old jacket because, after all, the zipper was guaranteed for life......period.
I think that's worthy of at least 6 stars, don't you?

SGM said...

JJ-tough and ever so bad ass.
Richele-the service there, while not ALWAYS this fantastic, is always better than their rivals. I heart nordies too!
S., the day after my Norstrom experience, I wrote a note to the GM telling him how happy I was (but not mentioning the free boots). God, do I sound like an manners-obsessed 80 year old lady or what?
Alison--hello Patagonia! Great story. Makes me want to shop there. 6 stars fer sure.

fashiongirl said...

I had a fabulous shoe guy like that at Stuart Weitzman here in San Francisco. I came in for a specific sandal and he not only talked me into buying another pair of shoes, he slipped a catalog into my bag. Clever little devil!

Fairfax said...

Boss gave me earrings for xmas... totally not my style. never even took them out of the box. fast forward 2 years. moving to the uk, clearing out the house. have to to go to nordstrom anyway, and that's where the earrings were from. returned them. they were $200!!! Got a great spring coat that i wear lots, and always get compliments on!

Anonymous said...

I've always sworn by Nordstrom's shoe dept. That said, the free-boots thing doesn't sound like it can be explained simply as brilliant customer service. I wonder if the salesman was giving away inventory to screw his employer. Maybe he knew he was leaving, and the boots freebie was a final fuck-you to the company.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. said...

Nordstrom. I love 'em. I was too lazy to park and go into the store to pick up jeans once and they brought them to me curb-side. Fuck yeah. I only wish they could have skated out and brought me a malted and some fries, too.

Pink Wallpaper said...

great post!

patricia gray said...

I have also had wonderful memorable experiences at Nordstroms. Once when I was in Chicago on business I took a cab to Nordstroms and when I asked them to phone for a return cab they offered to pay for my fare both ways. I was impressed. Nordstroms is my fav store to shop in. I love your Fryes story!!