Saturday, March 14, 2009

Service is out there...somewhere...

While I usually try to confine my comments in this space to music-related subjects, occasionally I take a detour for a bit of a rant of some sort before getting back to business as usual. Today is one of those days...

We hear so much these days about how customer service is the key to increasing business and weathering the current economic storm. And yet, often I find the customer service lacking to a great degree. Why is this? You would think, especially now, businesses would try to hold on to whatever customer base they have and try everything they can to increase it. One of the easiest ways, and one that costs nothing but a bit of time and effort, is in the area of customer service.

Last week, I had two experiences with customer service I'll share with you today: one was very good; the other not so good. The not so good concerns a certain big box technology retailer based in the United States with stores in Canada that wants you to know their sales persons are not working on commission. That's all very well and good, as I don't like commissioned sales people breathing down my neck while I am browsing, but when I am ready to spend, I expect someone to be available. On several occasions in the past week, not just once, mind you, I was at said retailer looking to upgrade a computer program and their sale price on that upgrade was significantly less than the competition. Do you think I could find a person to help me out with my purchase? I did find one soul who could offer me little or no insight into the product, so I decided to leave it for the time being and perhaps even shop elsewhere. I might still get the upgrade there, when all is said and done, but I must say the lack of service and product knowledge was quite frustrating.

The very good experience came last Saturday evening when Sophie and I were out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. We went to Treadwell's in Port Dalhousie on a truly dark and stormy night, and in spite of a winemakers' dinner taking up a lot of their attention from 7 pm onwards just a few feet away, the service at our table was exceptional. Granted, you pay for that service with the bill at the end of the evening, but still, the service is not always reflected in the size of the bill. This night, several people, not just our particular server, went out of their way to make sure every last detail was taken care of and the evening would be a memorable one. It was, and I certainly will recommend them to others who might be planning a nice dinner out in the future.

So what is different here? One large U.S. based retailer just doesn't seem to get the message that you have to hit the proper balance between being there and not being overbearing; a local restaurant goes out of their way to make the evening special, without even knowing it was indeed a special evening. All it takes is a little effort, and the dividends are significant.

With my business, A Web of Fine Music, while I don't operate a storefront location so often I only communicate with my customers via email or the internet, I still try to make every effort to be informative, friendly, and attentive. Many customers I talk to on the phone or make personal deliveries to, and the approach is always the same. It takes little effort to show you care, and the customer matters. I don't know about you, but I personally would rather pay a little more in order to get the service I feel I deserve; I will likewise avoid a great price if I don't feel the business is the least bit interested in keeping me as a customer. I may not always have the lowest price on a particular item, but I always try to remain competitive and certainly include value added items like free local delivery, whenever possible.

If you're frustrated finding the music you love, whether you are here in Niagara or elsewhere, why not give me a try? You can find my website at, and my email address is If music is your passion, why not support a local business that shares your passion?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

March 14th, 2009.

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