What is service?

We went on a special shopping trip to Marks and Spencer in Camberley earlier in the year. It’s a big store and very smart. We went there specifically because it is big and a close family member in a wheelchair wanted to be able to see a good selection of clothes. It was easy for her to do this.

She looked at various items and picked one out, but they did not have her size (she takes a fairly standard size). We asked a shop assistant, but were told very politely that all the stock in that line was on display.

We moved on and she found something else she liked, but again we couldn’t find it in her size. We asked again and heard once more that all they had was on display.

She found a third item and, you guessed it, they did not have her size. We asked but knew the answer before the shop assistant spoke.

So we left without buying what she originally wanted. This has stuck in my mind because to me this is not good service. The whole point of a big store is that they should have a very wide selection. If they don’t, there’s no point in going.

Contrast this with a trip to our local, independent butcher, Mike Turton’s, in Ilfracombe today. Mrs Z asked for some lamb mince for a recipe I will be cooking on Saturday. There was none prepared.

The next thing Mike went and got a whole lamb carcass from the fridge and started jointing it. He then minced a quantity of meat and wrapped it for my wife.

So not only did he go out of his way to provide what we wanted, but we know that the mince is really good quality unlike a pack you buy in a supermarket, which now we really can’t trust.

This demonstrates the powerful opportunities available to independent shopkeepers to sell higher quality goods than big stores can ever hope to match and deliver service which none of them can even approach.

That’s why I’ll be supporting Small Business Saturday on Saturday 7 December 2013.

7 thoughts on “What is service?”

  1. How sad for your friend – as you say, no point in going, if there’s not good service!!
    & I LOVE the contrast of your local butcher! We have a Saturday Farm Market, & I love to go to the ‘Bide a Wee’ stand – mutton & lamb! The owner tells me I’m the only one asking for kidneys that doesn’t have a Brit (or Australian!) accent! (the organ meet is 1/2 the price of the other – & I do enjoy it!) I am also getting quite fond of the ground lamb or mutton!

  2. This really doesn’t surprise me, Robert. Chances are the M&S branch probably did have your family member’s size in the stockroom but were too idle to go and check, or at least offer to take your details and contact you when a fresh stock came in.

    Small business retailers, and usually their staff, are much closer to the coal face and understand only too well that it’s their customers who pay their wages. And because of that, they’ll go the extra mile to deliver good service, like Mike the butcher obviously does.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.