Tuesday, February 02, 2010

On British Customer Service

We unsuccessfully ventured out to get the boys hair cut this afternoon. We left the house at 4:15 hoping that we could find some kind of barber shop/cheap salon open to cut their hair. Everything here closes early--even on a Saturday. We are so used to getting whatever service we want in America that we don't really think about planning very far ahead in the day. After driving by several places that were already closed before 5 on a Saturday afternoon we thought that Supercuts was our best chance since they are a chain and more likely to have later hours.

We arrived at Supercuts at 4:40. They didn't close until 5:30! Great!
Me: "Can we get the boys' hair cut?"
Supercuts: "No, we are finishing up here."
Me: "But, I saw you are open until 5:30."
Supercuts: "Oh, we have to cut this lady's hair first."

There were 2 stylists available. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the US we would have been welcomed since we got there well before closing time.

It is common here in the UK for restaurants, shops and other service shops to not let you in well before it closes because they don't want to serve you. If a restaurant closes at 6pm and you come in at 5:45 they are likely to tell you to leave or not let you order anything from the kitchen. In the US stores don't start closing until the last customer is served.

It makes life easier for the shop workers because closing time is closing time. The customer isn't the number one priority. Anyone who works in retail would appreciate the cultural difference. I was talking with a friend of mine who is from Canada. She is Muslim and we were talking about cultural differences in customer service. She lived in Egypt for several months and said that if she was looking for something the store owner would say, "Oh yes, we have what you are looking for (even if she didn't tell him what she wanted)." If the store owner did not have it he would find a way to get it. In Canada (and US) if you are looking for a service most places are willing to find a way to help you or even make some kind of special circumstance for you. It just isn't like that here in England. It's not right or wrong, it's just different!

(I started this post over a week ago and we did get the boys hair cut on Saturday. We went in the morning this time.)


mamabrown said...

Another adventure in marketing...very different from the US. Are merchants less $ hungry than American businesses? Interesting.

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