Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sometimes Lost Art of Customer Service

So, I try to keep my blog super positive and happy but today, I need to vent but just a little.

Last night, I visited my local Sephora in the hopes of finally buying the Rouge Artist Intense #42 satin lipstick by Make Up For Ever. Last week on my lunch break, I went into the store and saw the tester display showing all 50 colors. However, the store only had about 40% of colors available for purchase. I asked one of the sales associates when the rest of the colors were coming in and she informed me the store gets their shipments on Tuesday. I thanked her and left.

Well, last night I was very disappointed. Not only were the lipsticks' stock still incomplete, the two sales associates I had the misfortune of interacting with left a bad taste in my mouth. I was polite on the outside, but I was literally fuming on the inside!

As I was looking for the #42 shade, a male associate said "Hello and welcome back." He asked me if I needed anything and as I was asking, "Do you know when the rest of the stock is...." He just walked away in the middle of my question.  He simply walked off and helped someone else. I was appalled.

When another sales associate came by, I asked her the same question and she said, "We did get the shipment but it is in the back and we are not sure if the shade you want is even in there." I simply responded with, "Okay, thank you." I was nice and patient but I wanted to scream.

Unlike the first associate, the young woman was polite but she really did not seem interested in helping me further. She could have said, "Please check back tomorrow or if you like, one of us can call you if your desired shade is here and we can then hold it for you."  I worked in retail and customer service for many years and I did this often for customers.

I am just baffled by the lack of service at this Sephora. There are some wonderful associates I have interacted with there but most of them seem "out to lunch."

However, at the larger Sephora location in Tysons Corner (which is further away), the associates there are all AMAZING! They are helpful, kind, and you can tell they love what they do. From now on, I am only going to the Tysons location or the one in New York or Vegas.

So, if this happened to you, what would you do? Have you ever had a bad customer service experience?


  1. I'm a naturally assertive person, I would not have let it go. I would have asked the associate to go in back and see if the lipstick is there. I get attitude sometimes when I ask a lazy associate to actually DO THEIR JOB, and I really wouldn't ask an associate to do anything that isn't basic customer service. If they need to phone another location to see if what I want is in stock, then I will wait until they do it. I have to be like that in the type of work I do (Insurance collections) and it just carries into my everyday life. Who cares if the associate thinks you are demanding? You are paying for the product (paying A LOT) they should help you find what you are looking for!

  2. I agree, Kim. My friends often say I am too nice. I was fuming. I wanted to take action but I left. I will never shop at that location again. Most of the people there are okay or I have never dealt with them. But there are a huge group of idiots too.

    I know that the case for a lot of things but if someone is bad/rude at their service job dealing with the public then they need a new line of work!

    As a former retail gal and travel agent, I had nice people, sweet people, rude people, nasty people, and even people who yelled and swore at me! I have experienced it all yet I always gracious and helpful. Again, if people do not want to help their customers, quit.

  3. You handled it nicer than I would have probably. I agree that customer service doesnt seem a priority anymore. People in general have become more rude.

  4. Sometimes a little sugar goes a long way! Always being gracious will help you get more of what you want, and sometimes if you throw in a little self-depreciating humor, people will you more and 2. because they like you more they will do more for you. That how I deal with those lazy, and or difficult people, is I put a smile on my face and say something like "I don't want to be a pain in the butt, but can you look for me?" I told one sales associate, "I will be your best friend if you have it!" Little tricks like that, using a bit of humor makes people want to go that extra mile for you.

  5. that still from the Women...Joan Crawford as Crystal, the homewrecking sales girl is a classic must see!

  6. Atomic Mama,

    I think that people have become more rude too. It is a shame. I always try to be nice yet I have my days. I just will never shop at that location again. I will buy online or just the location two locations in my area. I still cannot believe the guy just walked away.

  7. Kim,

    I have done that! I have made jokes or made silly remarks like, "As you can see, I totally do not like bold lips but do you have this shade in..." Most sales people get it but there are some out there that should not be working in sales. Total rude, snotty grouches.

  8. Kim,

    Yes, Joan Crawford was great. I loved her older work but after seeing "Mommie Dearest" I have to admit I was influenced by Faye Dunaway's performance. I am not sure if Joan was like that but wow! What a mean lady!

  9. Wait - There's a Sephora in Tyson's Corner? That might be a reason for me to actually enter a mall to shop! There is no excuse for the rudeness of the sales associates you dealt with. I spent some time in sales while in college (years ago) and I know the management would have been appalled by that sort of behavior to customers. Kudos to you for being gracious and polite anyway - not everyone would be!

  10. Sue,

    Yes, the Sephora is on the second level. I park in the Macy's lot and as I walk through the store and into the main mall, I keep walking straight and after two minutes, it is on the left. It is the biggest Sephora I have been in since Vegas. The one at Fair Oaks is small and they do not carry much of the product lines like the bigger stores. Also, their sales staff are lazy.

  11. Thanks for the info! I will definitely have to check that one out (and take a closer look at your recommendations, maybe even purchase a few to justify the drive!)

  12. Honestly - dont come to England! We have the worst customer service ever. Its quite usual that if you go to buy something in a shop, the sales assistant will be chatting away to her co-worker while she rings through your purchase and wont even look at you or say hello, goodbye, thank you. I think its dreadful. I especially notice how bad it is after a holiday to the States. Your customer service in general in stores and restaurants is amazing and far better than we get!! Maybe the sales assistants in Sephora were British?! lol!

  13. Clare,

    I have experienced that. I was in a teen store looking for stuff for my niece for Christmas and when I went to buy her gifts, the two high school girls behind the counter could care less about my presence. They were too busy chatting about their holiday parties and what they were going to wear and who was going to be there.

    The two sales people at the Sephora, especially the bloke, seemed weird and detached. They should not work retail!