I don’t drink alcohol – don’t judge me

July 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

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I used to drink alcohol but I can’t anymore. I don’t know why that suddenly happened, but it did. I’m ok with it – other people aren’t.

If I drink alcohol I get the mother of all hangovers. Not a bad head or a dodgy stomach the next morning but, for three days at least, a searing, horrible, sickening pain in my head and a tummy that repeatedly wants to get rid of anything I put in it, including the water which I think might help the head pain. Alcohol just isn’t worth that torture.

When I’m with a group in a pub or at a party I dread people asking what I want to drink. I have two strategies:

  1. To ask for a glass of wine and make it last all night. People seem more comfortable if I’m holding a glass of wine when the next round comes and I say “I’m alright for the minute”.
  2. If I’m actually thirsty, to feel ‘brave’ enough to ask for a soft drink and chance that people won’t judge me for not drinking alcohol.

I don’t drive (which I know is also odd to the majority but is somehow more acceptable) so I can’t use that as an ‘excuse’.

The reaction to my not drinking alcohol falls into two camps:

  1. That I’m not enjoying myself (which I am).
  2. That I’m trying to lose weight (which I’m not).

And I can’t even hazard a guess at the number of times people have asked ‘Don’t you want a real drink?’

The other day my husband and I went out for a drink and the pub was selling a rhubarb and ginger tonic. I was excited. Not only was the drink tasty it sounded ‘grown up’ – particularly when my options usually fall into the lemonade division. I could feel good about ordering rhubarb and ginger tonic.

Just now, when I started writing this blog I couldn’t remember the name of the brand so I put ‘rhubarb and ginger tonic’ into the search engine. Pages and pages of rhubarb and ginger gin came up – even though I’d specified ‘tonic’.

And when I finally found the drink, rhubarb and ginger tonic from Twelve Below was only a mention on a site titled Craft Gins. I’ve dug a bit deeper and found the Twelve Below site. It’s using the USP of having less sugar than most tonics, hence its name, (12 calories per serving with natural sweeteners) – and not that it’s a cool adult drink. I think it’s missing out there. But it must know its main audience and has branded itself accordingly.

Anyway, my point is this:  I don’t want to drink alcohol because it doesn’t do me any favours. I’m not going to judge those that drink. Sometimes I’d like to join in because it would make my life easier – but please don’t judge me if I don’t.

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When retail gets it wrong …

July 24, 2019 § Leave a comment

paying-1438142__340.jpgNo you can’t help me!

When I walk into a shop laid out for browsing I don’t want a sales assistant to rush up to me and gush ‘Can I help you?’. Frankly, If I wanted help, I would ask for it.

Why have a shop layout which encourages customers to have a good look around if sales assistants are going to hound them from the time they walk through the door.

Maybe I sound like a grumpy old woman. I’m not. (Grumpy). But I’m definitely old enough to ask for information/advice when I need it – however I probably won’t know what help I need until I’ve had a look around the shop and realised I can’t find what I’m looking for. Or maybe I’ll want “that one in a different colour/size” when I see one in the wrong colour/size. It’s one of retail’s biggest mistakes in my opinion – to get people into their lair and then turn them off by hassling them like it was a bazaar.

There used to be more counters, definite ‘don’t walk beyond this spot’ barriers, where customers expected attention from sales assistants and wanted, actually needed, their help because they couldn’t get what they wanted it without it. In fact, waiting too long before being served was annoying. In that arrangement ‘Can I help?’ was exactly what you wanted to hear.

Then there’s the complete opposite of all this – the shop where it’s hard to find a sales assistant in the first place and when you do, they don’t want to help.

 

retail-703589_960_720.jpgI was shopping for a bra the other day – one to fit with a new dress because none of the bras I owned did the job. I went to my favourite lingerie department, looked through the rails, couldn’t find what I was looking for and went in search of a sales assistant. I imagined a salesperson would know the stock and be able to help since I was looking for something pretty specific.

When I finally found a sales assistant, which wasn’t easy, she was restocking a fixture. I felt like I was interrupting as opposed to wanting to give the store business! Her response was to trot over to where I had already looked and tell me that the bra I had described used to be there but evidently wasn’t anymore. And that was it. She went back to stocking the fixture, giving no advice as to how I might find the bra or paying me any further attention.

(In case you’re worrying, I found the bra eventually – from the same retailer but online. For the men who are reading this, bras are like shoes – better tried on, even if you know your size, so online isn’t ideal.)

I don’t want to get into the ‘every customer is different’ and ‘every shop is different’ debate. There is a one-size-fits-all solution and it should be used. The clue lies in the job title, sales assistant. ‘Sales’ – that bit’s easy: on behalf of the business, sales assistants will handle transactions. Assistant – their job is to help – when the customer needs help but not to mob or avoid helping by stocking shelves. Problem sorted.

I want to talk to a PERSON!!!!

August 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

a9bc68e5eIf anyone has a query or a problem they can call me and I speak to them. When Bowler Hat gets a billion times bigger I’ll employ tons of receptionists and we’ll all talk to callers. We’ll be the most communicative communications company in the business.

Never – and I mean, never – will I subject my customers to machines or (and this has to be even worse) deny them telephone contact altogether. If that sounds a little antiquated I don’t care because a helpful person at the end of the phone is going to beat an automated menu of options hands-down, however old you are.

For starters…. people UNDERSTAND you and why you’re calling!!! Their pliable brains can hop all over the shop to fathom, filter and fulfil requests or sort out problems. A good old-fashioned conversation can take place so the caller can fully explain the issue at hand.

Not so with the automated voice system which goes into meltdown if the caller digresses from the menu – or, for goodness sake, hesitates for an instant. Have suffered this week trying to contact a huge and hugely well-known financial institution. The ‘voice’ didn’t know what to do with my query which didn’t slot into Options 1-6 and I didn’t know what to do with my frustration by the fifth attempt of rephrasing the question.

I’d just about recovered from that experience when a couple of days later I came up against the ‘Unfortunately we no longer offer a telephone support system’ sort of company. Would have preferred to speak to someone but, hey, I’m a writer – so took a deep breath and wrote a comprehensive email to said ‘we’d-rather-you-didn’t-contact-us’ company.

Minutes later, far too few minutes later – ping! Company replies. They’d read, it seemed, maybe three pars of the 12-paragraph letter I’d written, completely misunderstood it and explained a outrageously wrong decision with an outrageous explanation.

AAARGH!!!

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I put the pertinent points in the first three pars. I did, I did, I did. But it was a complicated issue and needed clarification and details.

I’m reliving the maddeningly wrist-wrenching experience as I type…but I think I’m over it now. I haven’t forgotten about it, though, have I. What this week has proved to me is that no matter the scale of the company, machines just don’t ‘do’ customer service. People do.

What worries me is this seemingly growing trend of companies putting the phone down on customers in favour of automation.

PS. At the time of writing am holding on to speak to someone at O2 and the sickly automated woman’s voice keeps telling me there’s loads of info on their website. I KNOOOOW. That’s where I got the number from but I want to talk to a person!!!!!

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