Why my wife will not be relying on Tesco Direct’s customer service

Looking for the right kettle

My wife has been searching for the right kettle for a little while and has not managed to find one.  This week she made another attempt to find that kettle – this time at the local Tesco Direct store.

Asking for help

She was looking at one kettle in particular.  The label on the shelf gave the price of the kettle and listed various other features but not the volume.  So my wife asked one of the shop assistants to find out what the volume of the kettle was.  The first thing that the shop assistant did was to take the label of the shelf, putting on his glasses and then take a good look at it.  Then he told my wife that he could not help as the volume was not printed on the label.

Feeling insulted by the sales assistant

By taking the label and looking at it, the assistant left my wife feeling insulted – as if she did not have the intelligence or the literacy to read the label herself.  She knew that the volume was not specified on the label and that is why she had asked the assistant for help.

Getting help that is unhelpful and wastes time

Not being content with helping my wife by telling her the obvious, and failing to actually give her with the answer to the question she had asked, the sales assistant moved up a gear.  He assumed that my wife wanted larger volume kettles and started showing her these kettles.

My wife responded by telling the sales assistant that she did not like her kettles to be too tall as that stopped her from cleaning them.  Yet he continued to show her more and more kettles.  Eventually, my wife ended the conversation by telling the sales assistant that she had the information she needed and no longer needed his help. Why? Because the assistant was not being helpful – he was actually wasting her time.  Clearly the experience was not a great one for the shop assistant as he apologised and mentioned that he was new and not fully up to speed.

After some more looking around my wife finally found and chose the kettle that she wanted to buy.  Actually, she found two kettles each with a different product ID.  They looked remarkably similar and so she spent time comparing them: she figured out that it was exactly the same kettle – one with the base on and one with the base off!

The kettle has been discontinued and is not in stock!

After half an hour of looking around my wife found the right kettle.  So she went to the kiosk and punched in the product ID (both of them) only to be told that the kettle was not in stock as it had been discontinued.  This puzzled by wife.  Why display a product if you have discontinued selling it and do not have it in stock?  At this point my wife had had enough and simply walked out and then came home to tell me all about her frustrating experience.

Lessons

If you want the customer to value you then you must value her: don’t waste her time and if she asks for help then give that help exactly – no more, no less.  And please bear in mind that some customers will hesitate to tell your organisation of poor service because they do not want your staff to get into trouble.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

7 thoughts on “Why my wife will not be relying on Tesco Direct’s customer service”

  1. Hi to all readers, do not shop at Tesco direct for your diamond rings as it will break in minutes and you will not get a refund from these suppliers for your item as I did not. So please be careful and go some where else if you can for your diamond rings thank you for listening take care Dawn.

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  2. you honestly took offense to them looking at the label? sometimes labels show some information that isn’t listed in the standard we’d expect, such as volume: 3L. sometimes they’ll have an item code like russell-hobbs s-3000m (an example, don’t go googling it, but the 3000m would mean 3L), Also, she might not of stated “I checked the label”… at least he looked, I’ve been told “no idea, if it isn’t there I don’t know”. Why so much fuss over a kettle? and why so easily insulted? the guy was obviously a shelf filler, not an electronics expert, you want that advice goto curries.
    I’m not picking a fight, I came here googleing “how is my wife breaking so many kettles”. and to see anger at a company based one a finicky situation is weird.

    I do agree to the false advertising, its like saying “We have the brand new Dell XPS all-in-one Computer, see it here!……. Please note we don’t stock it, sell it, and in fact its no longer made….”

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    1. Hello Andrew
      I did not take offense as I was not out there doing the shopping. My wife was the one that was out shopping and experienced that which she experienced. If I recall correctly, then she did not take offense either.

      Rather it was a question of frustration and disappointment. She was looking for help. She asked for help. And whilst a store assistant got busy ‘helping’ it did not show up as help. Why? Because he went through the steps my wife had already gone through. Even though she told him that she had gone through them. And importantly he did not solve her problem. He left he there holding her problem. Said sorry and walked off.

      There are some people, like my wife, who expect that store assistants will be knowledgeable about the products. And in the cases they are not, they will find out and come back with the answers that the customer poses.

      Maz

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      1. “Feeling insulted by the sales assistant” that’s taking offence, at least in my books.

        sad thing is, we put our expectations of the £5 an hour worker, WAY too high. if they train them in knowledge, he’ll “deserve” more pay, more pay, less profit, simple… There’s around ~6000 Tesco’s stores, lets say they trained 5 people from each in electronics.. that would be 30,000 employee’s needing a wage hike…
        All they want is money, and they killed the high street doing it.

        this is why in research, we (in my family) will look the items up before looking where to buy. no point asking people in shops, they’re paid a low wage, and I shouldn’t expect the above & beyond standard…..

        Isn’t this why your blog exists? to create this change?

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      2. Hello Andrew
        I thank you for caring with such passion! Wow. It occurs to me that I get where you are coming from.

        Where do I stand on the matter? I am with you in the sense that I do my own research and expect almost no product knowledge from people in the store. As you point out they are not trained, they are not paid well. In the majority of cases they are there to stack shelves, rearrange/tidy the merchandise, and take your order/payment.

        Whilst this is true for me, it is not true for my wife. She is French and when she goes to France, which she does regularly, she experiences a radically different shopping experience. And so she compares UK with France and ends up being disappointed. What does this disclose? That different shoppers have different expectations. And one of the challenges for businesses is to match what they do with the expectations of the shoppers they are targeting. If Tesco is targeting the likes of you and me then all is well. If it targeting the like of my wife then it is not doing well. It occurs to me that it is not a question of right or wrong. It occurs to me that it is a question of fit.

        Why does this blog exist? It exists in the possibility that I can through this blog make a difference. A difference in the lives of my fellow human beings. Those that play the role of customers, those that play the role of employees serving customers, those that pull the strings, those that invest in businesses etc.

        I thank you for caring and sharing. I wish you well. And I get it is possible that my did take offence. And perhaps it was not necessary to take offense.

        With my love
        maz

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      3. Don’t get me wrong, My wife is Dutch, therefore, same issues. I think there needs to be a balance, as you put it well, a “fit” place. in 2012, 33% of people in the uk didn’t have access to the internet. 45% that have it don’t know how to use it the way we do. That’s a huge market they should target. I guess it’s their loss.

        I think I’ll stick around this blog, reminds me, we actually need a new kettle…. and upon the advice here, not tesco’s 🙂

        Andrew

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      4. Hello Andrew
        It occurs to me that you and I if we met up in a cafe we would get on fine and probably talk for hours.

        I thank you for your ‘support’ and I invite you to share your perspective as often as you wish. Why? Because you have helped me to see things differently. And it is difference that creates the space for connection/curiosity/creativity/fun/learning to show up.

        Finally, I wish you the best in your search for a new kettle. If you are like me then you will find it on the internet, read the reviews, choose, order and await delivery. And if your wife is like mine then she will not go for that. She will need to see it, touch it, handle it. And so she will go to one of her favourite stores or indeed the closest one.

        At your service / with my love
        Maz

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