How inconsistent service can permanently damage your reputation

If you’ve ever done your shopping around a big city centre, you may feel a strong sense of déjà vu as you walk through the streets and see the same shops in the space of a 10-minute stroll. It is likely that you expect the same service in each store that you go to; however, this is not always the case. Below is a step by step scenario of how inconsistent service can damage your reputation.

Journey part one – A person buys a pair of fitted boots from a well-known shoe store in a location close to their home. The sales assistant was helpful and polite and the customer leaves the store feeling happy with their purchase and how their overall experience went. = Happy customer 😃


Journey part two – They go up to London for an evening out and wear their newly purchased boots. However, trouble strikes while they are walking and one of the boots keeps sliding down their leg. Upon closer inspection, the right boot is significantly bigger than the left boot, so they decide to return the boots to one of the many stores in Oxford Circus. = Sad customer 😔


Journey part three – Upon entering the store they explain their problem to a sales exec, who goes to get their manager. The manager comes storming over and tells the customer – in a confrontational manner – that the right one was a display boot and that is why it is bigger, and that they can’t possibly return the boots because they have been worn outside.  She rudely continues that the customer would have been told they were display shoes and therefore it is their responsibility for having decided to go ahead with the purchase. The customer explains they were not told and would just like to exchange for another pair. The manager refuses and does not believe that another store would not follow company policy to explain about display shoes. = Sad customer 😔


Journey part four – The customer leaves feeling unfairly treated, humiliated and upset. Determined to not give up they decide to try and return them to another store along the street. = Sad customer 😔


Journey part five – They enter the store and explain the situation and the manager apologises. He takes full responsibility that the customer has been unknowingly sold a display boot which they now cannot wear because they are too big. He exchanges them for a brand new pair and apologises once again. The customer is incredibly grateful and leaves in a happy mood knowing they can wear their new boots which actually fit. = Happy customer 😃


Lasting impression 😔

Unfortunately, even though the customer’s experience started happily and ended happily, the negative experiences during their journey are more likely to stick in their memory. According to Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University, this is because the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions make you think more, so the information is processed more rigorously than positive experiences. This is why people remember and describe negative experiences more than they do positive ones.

How to provide consistently good experiences 😃 😃 😃

  • Ensure all employees are familiar with company policies and codes of conduct to avoid inconsistent staff behaviour and confusion among customers. With Oplift Engage you can store all of these documents making it easy for staff to navigate their way through all things company and work-related. You can see who has read what and prompt them to read or re-read to ensure everyone is informed and compliant.
  • Provide constant learning so that staff remember different policies and procedures that they would otherwise easily forget. With a solution like Albert which we created for Virgin Media, you can create short quiz questions which employees answer daily to reinforce knowledge.
  • Create more easily accessible how-to guides to ensure best practice is followed through all of your stores. In the scenario above, the company could have created a step by step guide to selling display shoes. E.G:
    1. Tell the customer you are retrieving the shoe from display.
    2. Ask if they are happy with the display shoe.
    3. If yes, explain that they can only return if they have not been worn outside.
    4. If no ask if you can order it for them to collect in store or to their personal address.

    With Oplift Engage’s easy to find articles it is the first port of call for any form of information or guidance.

  • Do more performance reviews to ensure everyone is selling correctly and consistently. Oplift Coach allows you to carry out reviews, track performance and develop action plans to improve future performance all in one go, right on the shop floor.

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 17th January 2018