Service vs Product: which is more important?

Back to school shopping can be exasperating for anyone. We are all looking for the same things (i.e. school uniform khakis, notebooks, dividers, shoes) and the closer we get to the finish line, the more likely stores will be out of what we need.

Added challenge: meet Sasquatch

My 13 year old Sam has always had big feet. I remember when he was born, the doctor, nurses, and my husband all gasped, “look at those tootsies!” As he now wears a size 14, it has become more difficult to find him shoes.

On our latest shopping expedition, we went into several shoe stores searching for something that would fit, other than resorting to shoving his feet into the boxes. My strategy was simple; I had him measured and then asked what they carried in his size. It would have been unrealistic for me to have Sam choose first, only to find out they didn’t make it in a 14 (shocker, I know).

Can I get some help please?

We were not surprised when the first store carried nothing in his size. In the next store, after walking around searching for an associate, Sam was remeasured to ensure accuracy (yep, he was really a 14). Hoping for some guidance, I inquired what styles we could choose from. The associate simply smiled and told us to look throughout the store, select the styles we liked and she would search for them in the computer database.

Urgh!!! We were in an Adidas store that was filled top to bottom with sneakers. I had a sense that she really did not want to help when she left us standing there. The selection(?) was so completely overwhelming, we exited the store. Bad customer experience = no sale.

Our next encounter was at the Sketchers store, where we were immediately greeted and directed to a “large size” section. Yay! We could finally try something on him and hopefully buy something. We left having purchased 2 pairs of shoes and felt relieved from the experience. Good customer experience = sale!

Sasquatch and his new shoes

There really is a point to this tale!

Now that I have had a good rant, I am ready to get back on topic. Often we purchase from a brand/store that gives terrible service just because we like the product. Are you willing to cope with an incompetent or (worse yet) apathetic staff so that you can keep a name brand on your body or feet? How about purchasing a car from a dealership where you are uncomfortable with the hard-sell tactics of the salesmen?

As a rule, I am very brand loyal. The exception is when I feel slighted or ignored by the business representing the brand. In the end, it is of the utmost importance to be present for the customer. I gave all kinds of buying clues, yet I was not adequately assisted. Fortunately for me, there are always alternatives; even for Sasquatch Sam.

Where do you draw the line in the sand? Share your thoughts and stories about what makes you a loyal customer.

7 thoughts on “Service vs Product: which is more important?

  1. eof737 says:

    Bad customer service is a brand killer… I won’t buy without the service… And it is inexcusable to let the customer walk out the door without making an effort… Businesses fold every day because of this bad approach. I’m big on training staff and preparing all for the inevitable; you did the right thing… 🙂


  2. Barry Silver says:

    Got a great shoe story. When my daughter was very young, she was a double wide. Yup, shoe not trailer. We’d go into Stride Rite, wait the requisite 30 minutes (always fun with 2 young kids) and find out there were 4 styles in Double Wide and the store didn’t carry 3 of them. We survived and my baby graduated into normal widths. As for customer service, I find my frustration boiling over when all a CSR can say is “we can’t do that.” I’m pretty calm and rational. I realize qestions can be answered with a no. But for A CSR to not be able to follow with “But what I can do” or at least “I suggest you” means the CSR either doesn’t care or has been improperly trained. The 1st two words of the title are customer service.


    1. miriamgomberg says:

      Barry, I feel your pain as far as dealing with a kid with a difficult fit. Thankfully, she was able to grow out of it. You sound like a model customer, in that you are calm, responsive, and understand sometimes the answer is no.

      As a customer experience manager, I feel it is important to get creative and think outside the box in serving clients. There are some things I can’t fix, but I will always put the customer’s needs first. Too bad there are so many who don’t. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Miriam


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