Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shoes Aplenty but Still No Customer Service

As you can see, I am now rich in shoes (or poor from buying shoes), but today’s sales clerk had failed Customer Service 101 just as badly as Holly from Foot Solutions in yesterday’s shoe saga. The best news is that I probably won’t have to deal with another one of these people for a long time to come.

Following the suggestion of my friend Elizabeth, I visited The Walking Store in Pentagon City. I had been in there before, but I’m not sure I had ever bought anything. Today when I went in, there was no one else in the store and a sales clerk was hanging around behind the desk, seeming not to notice me at all.

I could see there were a lot of possibilities, all reasonably priced. But would they have my size? After I asked to see three pairs of shoes and waited for the Holly-style onslaught of questions, today’s guy Howard simply said, “You don’t need me to measure your foot, do you?” and seemed relieved when I said that I knew my size.

He reappeared with two of the three and I proceeded to try on shoes for a long time, finding lots of possibilities. They seemed to have most of the ones I asked for in my size and most of them fit and were comfortable, so it was quite a surprise to find that I actually had choices to make.

As I tried on shoes, I noticed Howard crouching behind a display of socks, probably hoping I wouldn’t ask him to bring me anything else. Then he disappeared altogether.

At one point the only other customer was talking loudly on her cell phone in some Czech-like language. I contemplated asking her to take it outside so I could concentrate on my shoe selection, but decided she might thing I was obnoxious because I couldn’t understand what she was saying. Of course, she probably was saying “There is some really strange lady who is trying on every pair of shoes in this store.”

I finally decided on four pairs. I can’t remember when if ever I have bought four pairs of shoes. But I look it this way: it has taken me 4 years to find even one, so I might as while take advantage of my good fortune.

I told the woman who had now appeared behind the cash register that I was ready to buy my shoes. She said “I’ll go get Howard” who I supposed might be in the back smoking a joint, as he looked just a little spaced out when he reappeared.

There was no grin of delight to recognize the fact that I was spending a small fortune on shoes. He simply rang me up, took my Visa card, put my shoes in two bags, and threw in a shoe horn for whatever reason.

For all of Holly’s annoying insistence on waiting on me, Howard’s lack of service was quite in contrast. It was obvious that he is not working on commission. Customer service in the shoe department seems to be a lost art, with Nordstroms being the only place where it seems to matter.

But a girl has to go where the shoes are and today they were at The Walking Company. Thank God I can quit looking for shoes and you won’t have to read another post about shoe shopping.

Nice, aren't they?


Blogger Pauline said...

you'll be steppin' out in style...

8:51 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I don't think commissioned sales staff is a suitable solution, since their concern is making the sales, not necessarily providing service. Is a commissioned sales person going to happily serve you as you try on every shoe, if they could be serving someone who is more decided?

Getting right behaviour based on reward or incentive doesn't go well with me. As far as I am concerned, if you do something, you do it because it is right, not because you've been promised an extra helping of pie.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm glad you found shoes, if not service.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- It will definitely complicate my morning to have to decide which pair of shoes to wear. There was something so simple about having only a couple of options.

Richard -- Working on commission does tend to make sales persons more attentive. It also makes them pay attention to what they are selling. I think it's deplorable that people aren't motivated to know these things or to do a good job otherwise, but that it simply the state of retail for the most part.

Kristin -- Me too. It turns out the shoes were much more important than the service!

6:45 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Nice shoes Barbara .... now how about some boots???

Like you, I think customer service is a dying art form ....

Or maybe its an age thing?

Since I turned 50 I've realised I've become quite invisible ...

5:58 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Buying shoes is difficult so for you to get 4 pairs, I'd say you did well. I like all of them! It's worth it if you can just wear them and not think about breaking them in.

7:41 PM  
Blogger dina said...

wow!...Its nice to see my favorite josef seibel shoes in the picture....

6:44 AM  

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