GOOD customer service is vital to keep money local, says a Ballarat business leader.
Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett is calling on all Ballarat retailers to realise the importance of good customer service after a recent bad shopping experience in the city.
In a recent bulletin email to Commerce Ballarat members, Ms Gillett outlined her experience at being “ignored” by staff at three local businesses.
“Recently I went shopping and out of the six stores in town which I went into, three of them I had wonderful service and the other three, I felt quite ignored,” she said.
“I was in my casual clothes on my day off and looking for a dress for the Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards and I guess the message I would send out to retailers is that you should never judge a book by the cover. Subsequently those three stores with excellent customer service now have my money in their till.”
Ms Gillett said retailers need to realise they’re up against a battle of online and out of town shopping.
“And our local business can win it by providing that quality customer service. Staff need to be trained well and from the top down you all need to be working towards the one goal – quality customer service.”
Winner of the 2012 WIN Network Customer Service Award in the Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards, Beacon Lighting prides itself on providing a quality shopping experience.
Owner Justin Haupt said customer service is the most important aspect of his business.
“We focus on customer service, trying to bring the best to our customers,” Mr Haupt said.
For Ballarat woman Samantha Whitelaw, a bad shopping experience has resulted in her spending money in Melbourne.
“I find that when I shop in Ballarat, especially on the weekends, most shop keepers are kind of abrupt and non-inviting,” Ms Whitelaw said.
Although Ms Whitelaw lives in Ballarat, she works in Melbourne, and spends her lunchtime doing her shopping to ensure a better shopping experience.
“It generally seems to be smaller “boutique” shops that I have a problem with,” she said.
“Being a larger girl, I find when I go into “young” persons stores they tend to ignore me or pretend I’m not there. I’ve also had several instances of unfavourable attitudes from older ladies serving in the Bridge Mall. It is very off putting.”
Ms Whitelaw said for a tourist town Ballarat shops also need to look at its opening hours.
“I have had visitors from Melbourne come up for the weekend and be surprised that not much is open on a Sunday,” she said.
Despite her choice to shop in Melbourne, Ms Whitelaw said there are the exceptions.
“I must praise the girls at Harvey Norman last Saturday,” she said.
“They had a special on and were inundated with customers but the two girls serving were polite, thanked each customer for waiting and apologised for the wait. That it all we expect.”