Thursday, March 24, 2011

Customer Service - You're Doing It Wrong, the Legacy Edition

Many years ago, Joey was friends with an older lady who left him a number of paintings on silk that she and her husband brought home with them from the Philippines. They dated from about the time of the Vietnam war, and Joey thought they might be worth something as antiques. So, being young, naive and this being prior to the era of being able to research companies on the internet before you actually go there, we found the names of several antiques dealers in town in the phone book and set out with a few of the paintings in hand to see if they were worth anything.

It was then that I learned some vital lessons on customer service, the first one being that you should never, EVER become complacent, regardless of the all positive hype about your company and two, that a bad customer service experience leaves a longer-lasting mark than you think.

You see, Joey and I had the misfortune of stopping at Zee Faulkner Antiques. We had the second misfortune of dealing with the lady herself.

Zee Faulkner is quite the local character around here, and her downtown mansion/gallery was impossible to miss, painted a shade of powder pink that stood out among the more traditional buildings in that neighborhood. While Ms. Faulker had mastered the art of self promotion and the art of appealing to the local members of the Great and the Good, she apparently never mastered that prized art of Southern Hospitality. Instead she had all the charm of a bitchy head cheerleader of a two-bit rural school who makes sure to sign your yearbook noting the page that shows her off to her rah-rah best so you won't forget it. In fact, that pretty much sums up the customer service Ms. Faulkner had on offer to the two bewildered young folks standing in the midst of her vainglorious mansion. She literally sneered down her nose at the both of us without a greeting, then turned away to flip the pages of the magazine on prominent display in the foyer, to make sure that it was showing the article on her favorite subject - her. After that, she was done with us and waved us to the servant's entrance door, where her office manager quietly suggested we try another antiques dealer just down the road.

The other antiques dealer was a kindly gent, and he explained that the paintings weren't worth much of anything other than sentimental value, which was all we were trying to find out in the first place. Ms. Faulkner's lesson in what not to do when it comes to giving good customer service was a side bonus of the trip, but even after all this time, it still sets my teeth on edge.

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