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Why I Won’t be Buying that Smoothie Again {On Customer Service}

{source – Martha Stewart}

Word of mouth can make or break a business.

Tied up with this is the importance of repeat sales. Think about how often this occurs in your life… perhaps you have a few favourite restaurants, or that lovely little coffee shop you tell your friends about. Or, in your business or craft, a particular store you always go to (whether online or off-line) and would recommend to anyone.

Why do you frequent these places? Chances are you have always been the recipient of great products – and, perhaps most importantly, excellent customer service.

I have been personally reminded of the crucial part customer service plays in having a successful business via two separate experiences that happened in close proximity to each other.


The Yarn Store

There is a yarn store near where I used to live, and the first time I went there I was quite pleased by the selection (small but effective) and the service of the shop assistant. I subsequently went back a few times… until one day, when I walked out, vowing never to return.


Because, as a customer, I had been made to feel like a nuisance, rather than a person of value.

I guess the shop assistant (who, I think is also the owner, because she is always in there whenever I walk past) must have been having a bad/stressful day – but that is no excuse.

I went up to her to ask about the prices of some yarn. Now, they were on a set of shelves, which were labelled – but I was looking at the shelf the yarn was resting on, expecting that to be the price… but no, as I was huffily told, the price of the yarn is on the label above it. Silly mistake to make, I know, but boy, did she make me feel like an idiot for asking the question!

I did go ahead and buy some yarn, but she did nothing to allay my feeling of discomfort as she testily scanned my items, took my money, and gave me a long-suffering grimace/smile.

I walked out of there feeling like an idiot.

Do you think I’ll ever go back? I haven’t yet.

Do you think I’d recommend this shop to friends? On the contrary, here I am using it as an example of what not to do!


The Smoothie Store

Nick and I were shopping one day a while ago, and we felt like a treat. We decided to buy a smoothie each from a shop in the mall – I got banana and he got mango. They were absolutely delicious, and the service was great – prompt and courteous.

The next time we were at that mall, we were looking forward to going back and getting another smoothie. So, we wandered up. The assistant this time was poorly groomed, and distracted – she actually had to return to us – twice – to ask us to repeat our order because she couldn’t remember the flavour/sizes!

When we finally got our smoothies, we walked away… until I took a sip of mine. It was terrible! Watery, tasteless – and when I moved the straw around there was a big chunk of ice cream just sitting in the bottom. I turned around and took it back to the girl, explained the situation, and she took it back grumpily. She apparently did something with it – but when I got it back it was scarcely better than before! I gave up at this stage though, because she obviously couldn’t care less about us or our order.

Again, do you think we’ll be returning to this shop? Nope. The actions of one staff member in one moment has lost them two customers, and possibly others that we tell not to bother.


Always Give Your Best

Let’s be honest. We all have times and days where we really don’t – in the moment – care about the feelings or experiences of our customers. We are too caught up in our own head, for whatever reason, to think about someone else.

But in that moment we may make a mistake that loses us a customer forever.

Sure, we’re not perfect – but we should always strive to do and be our best, and treat customers with the care and respect they deserve, and then hope they spread the good word for us.

People say to me ‘gee, it must be great to not have a boss’. I smile and reply – ‘but I do – every single one of my customers is my boss’.

Without them, I wouldn’t have a business, or a livelihood.

So – do you have a customer service story similar to mine?


Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.


Caylie Price

It’s true that one employee can make a world of difference in the customer experience. I was interstate last weekend for a wedding. Between the ceremony and reception I called into a cafe for a cool drink (the ceremony was outside and VERY warm). The first waitress was less than helpful and had I not been so desparate for a drink I would have turned on my heels. Gratefully the next two waitresses were simply lovely and as I was leaving wished me a nice time at the reception but the business could easily have lost many customers purely based on that first interaction.


My husband and I went shopping for a crib with my mother and sister (who were visiting from Australia and who were buying the crib as a gift for us). We went to a well known store in Vancouver and looked at numerous cribs. The manager (and as I later found out, daughter of the owner) told us more about our favourites and based on what she told us, we purchased a Canadian made crib. What was delivered to us was the cheaper version of that crib, made in China. I had many back and forth emails with the manager but she refused to correct the problem and insinuated it was my fault in some way. I came to find out that I was not the only one this had happened to. Ultimately, I think I was bothered more that the fun of shopping with my mother and sister had been spoiled than anything else. Needless to say, I told everyone about my experience, posted reviews online and will never, ever shop there or recommend them to anyone else.

As someone who worked in retail for a number of years, and who always tried to provide the best service I could, I am always very aware of the service I receive as a customer. When I receive great service, I make a point to tell people about it. When I receive terrible service, I make it a point to tell people about it and to talk with my wallet by never shopping there again. No excuse is acceptable for poor service.

Megan Thwaites

Last night we went to a tiny vietnamese restaurant that serves up big bowls of the most amazing food for $9-12. We were there to relax and have good food. We were by far the biggest table, first to order and had 2 hungry toddlers with us. 1 1/2 hours later everyone in the restaurant had their meals except us, customers were lining up at the door and being turned away – to add to the annoyance, we’d had meals put under our noses and then taken away again – the waiter telling us they weren’t ours, so we knew that the food we had ordered was prepared and ready to go but had not yet made an appearance! When we asked what was happening with our order the waiter avoided us and wouldn’t answer our questions clearly. This inflamed the whole situation. My friend got to the point where she was going to walk straight into the kitchen and sort it out herself. She was intercepted by the owner, who promptly and pleasantly addressed the problem. She explained honestly what had happened, then she quickly sorted it out – all with a genuinely pleasant smile and apologetic manner. Within 5 minutes this woman earned my respect back and my return custom. Despite a bad night for her business, she was still calm and pleasant – kudo’s to her!

What say you?