The Bitchy Bride just wrote a post on bad bridal service. I started commenting on it but I realized very quickly that my comment was turning into a post. You see, I care a lot about customer service. If there is one thing that will make or break a business for me, it’s their customer service. I don’t mind if you mess up every now and then, as long as you’re apologetic and do your best to correct the problem. The thing that some people working in retail and food service don’t understand is that even if whatever happened wasn’t your fault personally, you represent the business you work for. I don’t want to hear about how it was really the kitchen’s fault or the day manager’s fault; I just want a sincere apology and an attempt to right whatever was wrong.
I’m not saying that the customer is always right. Sometimes the customer is very wrong. I’ve worked in both retail and food service, so I know that sometimes people get upset over things that you really have no control over and sometimes they think there’s a problem when there isn’t really one. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to them and treat them with respect. Do your best to make your customers happy, because they’re giving you their business. Besides, unhappy customers are a lot more likely to spread the word about your business, especially since online reviews are so ubiquitous, but it won’t be the kind of buzz you want. If you’re just a lowly minion and think that this doesn’t apply to you, because you don’t own the business you work for, think again. Not only do you endanger your job directly every time a customer complains about you, but businesses close all the time and if the company you work for goes under, so does your job.
Good customer service is especially important for businesses that specialize in luxury goods and services, which is what the wedding industry is all about. Despite what all of the bridal magazines may tell you, no one really needs a $2,000 wedding dress or a $1,500 cake. Plus, you probably aren’t the only place offering overpriced wedding goods and services in your area, so if you don’t provide quality customer service for your prospective clients, they’ll just go somewhere else. Even if a client couldn’t possibly afford your services, it still doesn’t pay to be rude. Many wedding vendors don’t advertise their prices on their websites, so often the only way to find out if the business is even remotely in one’s price range is to call or email. If you don’t list your prices on your website, don’t get bitchy when someone calls asking if you can do a cake for under $200 when you have a $500 minimum.
I luckily haven’t had too many bad experiences with vendors so far except for two of my wedding dress reconnaissance trips.
My first trip was to David’s Bridal in Durham. I had clearly never been wedding dress shopping before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, I’d read some things online about how the DB consultants would print out a list of the dresses you favorited on their website and would make suggestions about other styles that might work for you, so I was pretty excited. My mom and I got there 15 minutes before our appointment and checked in. They didn’t even have the profile I’d filled out online, even though I made the appointment through their website, let alone any of the dresses I’d favorited. My mom and I looked through the catalogue they gave us, then wandered around the store looking at dresses and waiting to be called. We went back up to the front 30 minutes later and asked when our appointment would be and discovered that they had completely forgotten about us. They acted like they were put-out to have to do their jobs, but one grudgingly said she’d help us. When I pointed out one of the styles I liked she said, “You’ll never fit in that.” I’m curvy, but not overweight. Plus, I was just telling her the style I liked. I had no idea what size I wore in wedding dresses. When I started trying on dresses, she gave me the undergarments to put on and said she’d come in once I was ready to help me get the dress on. It took me about 5 minutes to put on the undergarments, so I expected her to be back right away. I opened the door to my changing room and peeked out, but I didn’t see her. My mom didn’t know where she’d gone, so I thought that maybe I’d misunderstood and was supposed to do it myself. She came back as my mom was trying to zip up the dress and acted like we had committed a cardinal sin. I tried on a few wedding dresses that looked nice on the rack, but awful on me. The consultant kept disappearing. When I actually asked her if there were any styles she recommended that I try on (which I thought she was supposed to do anyway), she just said no. I left feeling like I’d never find a wedding dress that looked even half-way decent on me. Luckily, the next day my mom and I went to Bridal Mart in Burlington, NC. The girl who helped me was very nice, even though she had about three other people to help at the same time. I also found a dress I loved, though I couldn’t afford it. It did make me feel much better about my wedding dress prospects though.
The other bad wedding customer service happened at a small wedding boutique in Asheville, NC called Wedding Inspirations. We were up for the weekend, and I found the place online. On their online appointment request form, they asked you to select your dress budget and one of the options was under $500, so I was pretty hopeful. I searched some of the collections they had online and found several dresses that looked nice for around $200. I didn’t make an appointment, because I just wanted to look at the dresses. I figured I’m make an appointment if I found some I really liked. My fiance and I got there and the first girl who greeted us was fairly nice. She explained that I couldn’t try anything on that day, but gave me a card so I could make an appointment, then she pointed out where the dresses were and where the sale rack was. We were disappointed by the prices. The cheapest dress was on the sale rack and it was still $500. They had some pretty dresses, but not what I was looking for anyway. I would have left and promptly forgotten about them had it not been for the other saleswoman. As I was browsing, shel came up and demanded to know what I was doing. When I told her I was just looking, she looked at my fiance and said, “Oh God” in a rather exasperated way. I don’t know if she had a problem with me for looking or with my fiance for just being there, but it was enough to prompt me to write a bad review online.
So I guess the moral of the story is that if you want someone to shell out upwards of $1,000 for a dress that she’s going to wear once, then you’d better treat her like a goddamn princess.