Two very different tales of Customer Service

The way that you’re treated as a customer undoubtedly leaves an impression, and can make the difference between you recommending a business, or complaining about it to anybody that will listen. Given that many of us use social media, the news can spread far and wide in no time at all.

Helpful and attentive wins out

My first experience was a good one. For my son’s birthday we booked a paintballing party. He was the first of his friends to have one, so we were novices as to what it entailed. The company were very good, sending us plenty of information and phoning us in advance so that we knew what to expect, and what to advise the guests (what to wear, what to bring etc). When we arrived at the site, the adults were immediately offered a tea or coffee by the young hosts, and the boys were hustled off to get their kit on. There were a couple of other groups there including some older teenagers and some of our youngsters were a bit apprehensive.

The paintballing team were great, and told them they could stay in the ‘safe zone’ and watch the action until they felt comfortable to join in. There was a presentation to everyone, explaining the programme for the day with a safety briefing. After this they were all taken into the paintballing zone for their first game. Needless to say, all of them came back fired up and raring to go for the next one. The staff were great throughout, joining in with the fun yet keeping an eye on any unruly behaviour. The adults not taking part were regularly offered drinks and looked after. After we left, we were sent a questionnaire, asking for any useful feedback so that they can improve the experience for future visits. Here are the key points in summary:

  • Helpful and attentive
  • Empathetic to the boys’ concerns
  • Welcoming and inclusive
  • Followed up asking for feedback to improve
  • Interested in hearing and acting on customer feedback


Tricked into a sale

My second experience was not so good, and I was left feeling cheated. I have been buying glasses for about 15 years. I say ‘buying’ rather than ‘wearing’ because inevitably once I’ve got them, I forget where I’ve put them, or I have the wrong ones with me and I can simply manage without them. Although on the occasions that I do wear them, my eyesight is evidently better, I don’t find glasses a necessity. Eventually wising up to this, I realised that it must be possible to replace the lenses within my existing frames and that this would be much cheaper. After the third ‘scare tactics’ letter telling me it’s been three years since my last appointment and that eye tests can uncover other health issues, I phoned the opticians to book an appointment, and they confirmed it would be just £39 to replace the lenses into my existing frames. Result!

I went to my appointment confident that I would spend the bare minimum. However, the sales guy persuaded me that the buy one, get one free offer was better value so we ended up selecting some new frames. Then of course come all the tints and scratch proofing and reflective glare protection – the difference in vision between the untreated lenses and the ones with the various processes applied makes you wonder why on earth they bother with the untreated version at all. Is it simply to give them a low cost to draw you in? I left the opticians feeling that I’d been taken for a ride … again! I can’t help feeling that opticians are the equivalent of double glazing salesmen, not interested in my eye health at all, but just wanting to upsell all their products. To add insult to injury, when I went to pick up my glasses, the (different) optician that fitted them said ‘Oh, they’re only a small prescription anyway’. Here’s my conclusion on high street opticians:

  • Only interested in the sale
  • Confusing array of prices and choices
  • Final price is always higher than the first quoted price
  • Quoted price is for an inferior product



If you want your customers to recommend you, come back again, and feel they’ve had a good experience, treat them well. Think about what will make a difference to them. Ask for feedback … and act on it.

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