I’ve been contacted by a disgruntled customer of PC World. The writer wishes to remain anonymous and has asked if I’d care to share their tale of woe. What follows is truly the stuff of Friday Fury. How does service get to be this bad? What’s gone wrong with the customer experience and the employee experience? And why don’t organisations take a more holistic view and try harder to weave the two together?
If you’d like to appear in person or anonymously in a future Friday Fury – feel free to get in touch. Now it’s over to our mystery shopper…
I told a friend that I was going to write to The Daily Telegraph after my trip to PC World. This means I was angry. In turn, it means I was ribbed by said friend and offered an imaginary monocle and honorary red bulbous nose. By the way, the cure for a red bulbous nose is to drink more of the brandy that caused it in the first place. It will then turn purple. Thats one of my dad’s favourite jokes.
We had gone to PC World to buy a laptop. I was disappointed at how hopelessly I was served and how haplessly they then missed the opportunity to sell me something. Despite the ranting tone I employ here, the key word is disappointed. Disappointed by the false economy of seeking to compete with online shopping by stripping out all the value out of the bricks and mortar experience of buying something expensive, useful, which had been the subject of careful consideration and which was therefore worth paying a little premium for in return for knowing it’s really what you were after and, most importantly, for having it RIGHT NOW!
The bad service was bordering on the funny. Having loitered purposefully for 20 minutes next to the machine I wanted and close to a couple who had been waiting to buy an iPad for 40 minutes, a young man, whose left ear someone had cruelly attacked with a hole punch, told me that while he could inform a manager of our need to be served, he could not actually go to the store room and get me a laptop himself. This despite my clear and unambiguous requirement for “one of those”.
I did not need to be advised, merely served. I got a computer science degree in 1989 and therefore have a life long right to pretend that I know all about computers and if I need IT advice these days I just ask someone in HR on Twitter anyway.
Eventually, Holepunch told Manager, seemingly a Mr Demarcation, who told Bob (no cavernous piercings but a tattoo of his name in mirror writing on his forehead to remind him who he is every fourth or fifth day when he gets a shave) that we would like one of those laptops. Normally, say in a bar where I have the futile habit of trying to ensure that queues are managed fairly, I would have pointed Bob, when he finally arrived, at the iPad buyers first, but I feared someone giving Bob a gold watch in the further intervening 20 minutes and ushering him off to retirement before he got back to us, so I allowed him to serve us. The other couple went home to pre order an iPad 4 (ok, so I made that bit up, and the tattoo).
The haplessness was that when we were finally served they didn’t have any of the laptop we wanted, the one which came top of the latest Which survey, in stock. They carry one at most. This isn’t lean, it’s stupid. I am a middle aged man. Therefore, in turn, I am stupid enough to pay an extra 10% to instantly own a product that will be used for ~5 years. In other words I ascribe 10% of the cost to the value of getting it five days earlier than if I bought it on line. I am that stupid, and so are lots of people. It is easy (trivially so) to predict that the most popular product will sell, even in tough times. This is not a one off, it happened in the same store when I last bought a television, the sort that comes with a nylon shirt, jogging pants, a nosebag and which is so big you have to watch it the wrong way through a telescope through which you can still see the bubbles in Wayne Rooney’s spit.
On both occasions I went home, bought the item on line, with the gratuitous and deliberate intent of buying it anywhere but from PCWorld / Currys.
Do you want to hear the one about the man (one guess who) who stood on top of a huge pile of a4 paper in another PC World to shout and attract the attention of the staff so they might serve a group of people all of whom wanted, separately, immediately and without question, to buy large items? Perhaps another time, but it’s entirely true. I never learn, but neither do they!
photo c/o Joelk75