Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Tale of Two Jewelers

It's always a little difficult, I think, getting started on a new project.  This is my second blog - about two years ago I started a cooking/foodie blog to follow me through my adventures in the kitchen.  If you'd like to check it out, I'm sure you can find at least one amusing post.

In a sense, it was that blog that spurred the creation of this one.  I work in a customer service oriented industry, but more importantly, I care about people.  I tend toward seeing the value in people, until they give me a good reason to think otherwise.  I start out from a baseline of respect, rather than making someone "earn" their way into being treated like a human being.  What others choose to do is their prerogative.

Until it relates to me, that is.

The word "service" is lost upon a lot of people these days.  When you serve someone, you put yourself in a place of humility.  You make yourself a little bit lower so that you can elevate the other.  There are many people who serve: there is the obvious, such as waitstaff, and the maybe not-so-obvious, like ministers.  It seems to me that the "higher" a position you hold, the more willing you should be to demonstrate service as you may have more eyes to influence.

I am the person who writes letters to management to tell them about the phenomenal service provided to me by this representative of their company.  I think we are generally far quicker to let management know when we are dissatisfied than when we are satisfied, so I try to tip the scales a little.  That being said, if someone provides appalling "service," I have no problem providing the management with a detailed report on where their employee failed to represent their company in the way they surely would want it represented.  It seems there is a 50/50 split between managers who couldn't possibly care less if I was paying them to care less, and managers who respond quickly and appropriately to ensure that they regain my potentially lost patronage.  There are times that a manager's response to a poorly handled situation can put a more positive light on a company than if their service provider had done a stellar job in the first place.

Here is what I have found in recounting years of good and bad service: For every bad experience you have, someone is waiting to provide World Class Service.  Sometimes, that someone waits within the same 4 walls, other times, you'll need to take your business elsewhere to get the treatment you deserve.  Let me open my blog and close this post with A Tale of Two Jewelers:

In 2007, my bad luck from 2006 turned around completely.  As a result, I found myself shopping for wedding jewelry in the heat of a Philadelphia summer.  My [now] husband and I felt extremely fortunate to live within easy walking distance of Philadelphia's famous Jewelers' Row.  We headed up to a glitter-lined lane to take our pick from dozens of well-advertised jewelry stores.  At one end of Jewelers' Row, we were greeted by the elevated and imposing building of Safian and Rudolph, and on the other, Robbin's 8th and Walnut, whose ads I watched since I was a child.

We headed into Safian and Rudolph's to find a young salesman hurriedly putting his fancy shoes back on his feet and an older gentleman who smelled vaguely of alcohol standing arrogantly behind the counter.  We stated our business and even gave an idea of our preferences and were directed toward a specific section of rings.  To my surprise, the selection was limited - I had expected more from their advertisements.  What amazed my husband and I, however, was the distinct impression we got from the salesman behind the counter - he seemed completely unimpressed with us.  He put absolutely no effort into assisting us and seemed to roll his eyes that we were even in his shop.  I can only imagine we did not fit the suburban, main-line type he was used to serving because he did not take a single item out of the case for us.

Disgusted with his attitude and the store's collection, we walked out into the sunshine and headed down the block.  Finally, we found ourselves in Robbins 8th and Walnut and in the extraordinarily attentive care of a saleswoman named Doris.  How is that for an impression?  Four years after this event, I still remember her name.  Why?  Because she took out just about every ring in the store that was even remotely near the description we gave her.  She turned the store upside down to find the perfect wedding band to match my somewhat unusual engagement ring.  There were a few rings that I loved, but no matter how much I loved them, they were not actually what we were looking for, stylistically.  Regardless of the far higher commission they would have paid, she gently guided me away from them and back to a few others she thought were better for us.

We bought my wedding band from Doris.  Are you surprised?  You shouldn't be - she spent at least an hour of her day with us, fussing over me and my silver and garnet engagement ring, determined to find the perfect wedding band to match the knife-edge shape of my ring while adding a little glamour.  She found a ring that sparkled with two rows of little diamonds, one on each side of the "knife edge" in a tone of white gold that matched my silver engagement ring so perfectly that to this day, no one else knows they are two different metals.

My husband and I were steaming when we left Safian and Rudolph's and I could tell that he anticipated we would have that experience in the other stores as well.  We were beaming when we left Robbins, and all it took was a little bit of genuine service.

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