Nelson's best customer service
Nelson's customer service stars commendedELIZABETH BEAN
Best in Nelson
New Zealanders pride themselves on being helpful, and many businesses have corporate statements about providing outstanding customer service.
But having recently spent two months in Europe I wonder if this pride is misplaced, or our expectations for good service too low. All members of my family (children included) commented on "freakish British manners". "They are so polite. You ask them a question, and they answer in a really nice way," blogged Miss 12-year old. Even the Parisians were unusually considerate.
Rather than list my complaints about being ignored in shops in New Zealand, my calls not being returned, getting bad advice (or no advice), blank stares, grumpy responses, disinterested retail assistants and poor after-sales service, I will give you my shorter list of outstanding local service (in no order).
The AA. Both our cars are old enough to require a warrant of fitness every six months. Getting this done is a pink job in our family. A bouquet goes to the AA who always do the exact work that we ask, check with us before making additional repairs and even recommended another garage when they were unable to change the timing belt on my highly-strung Alfa.
Marcus Ladd, arborist, has done lots of tree work for us. For several years he tried to bring our extremely large liquid amber into line, although we all knew it was probably a lost cause. While he would love to have kept charging for ongoing pruning, he recommended the better option for us, with the final cut being carried out graciously and tidily, revealing the rotten heart he had predicted (in the tree).
The Bead Gallery. The beads are gorgeous and I often buy presents here and I have taken in jewellery to be re-modelled. The staff offer great advice and share their tools, and I have been able to re-invent some wonderful heritage pieces of jewellery for virtually no cost.
Halifax Vet. An accident last year required our cat to spend a considerable amount of time here. The bills were large, but fair. I never divulged to my husband just how large because I felt that Harry was getting the best possible attention. The staff got to know Harry well and now when I buy his food they always ask after his health.
Burnsco Marine. If my husband won't ask how much the cat cost, I won't query how much he spends at Burnsco. But he often comments when returning with another pot of epoxy or anti-fouling that they offer excellent advice.
Page & Blackmore. The knowledgeable staff can always find a book you need (or want). And they take great care in completing loyalty details and putting my purchase into a brown-paper bag with a nice sticker. This outstanding service makes me feel terribly guilty when I buy anything online.
Nelson police. These guys do a fantastic job keeping our community safe. They are always friendly, even when giving me a $150 fine for not stopping at a stop sign recently. The police must often see a less-than-savoury side of town, but I have never encountered anything but politeness and good humour from them.
Red Art Gallery. The owners here were very understanding when my husband knocked over an entire display of tall candles, with several not surviving . I have made purchases since, but not candles, though I have noticed that they have been shifted (and there are fewer of them).
Phillipe Butchery & Deli. A decent butcher is essential and I am thrilled Philippe is into his third year in central Nelson. If I ask, he gives me cooking advice and makes sure I have exactly what I need.
Cheapskates Nelson. We frequent Cheapskates because my son has a scooter that is well-loved and needs running repairs. You wouldn't believe how often an MGP scooter requires new hand grips, brake parts, bearings and grip tape. The super-cool staff always make my 10-year old son feel special and they give him stickers and scooting tips.
Cafes. I have favourites and while not mentioning names today, if you appear on my (or anyone else's) list of favourites, the rewards are generous. If we buy two flat white coffees from you every week that is an easy $400 annually. And if we come with a friend that is $800. And if we buy a "sweet something" that is $1600. And if we recommend you, the rewards multiply. It really is worth being nice to us.
Good service is the life blood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices, but unless you can get us to come back, your business won't be profitable for long. Instead, why not just be nice to everyone all the time?
I want business owners (New Zealand-wide) to reflect on what good customer service really means. I hate the thought that the British - or the French - have made my local suppliers look lacking. There is plenty of room for improvement.
- © Fairfax NZ News