Gold Medal Service

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On behalf of women, I like to rail against customer service snafus, but in this Olympic Week, I thought I’d salute some winners who can teach us what good service is all about. Lately, I’ve had good experiences with smaller, newer businesses who either get it because they have to or because they don’t have big, bad habits.

Here are a few examples of understanding the simplest but most effective basics.

Ishta Yoga, which opened recently in my neighborhood, has vaporized all the bad karma I’ve ever felt from NY yoga studios, namely, Intimidation with a capital “I”. I always feared doing downward dogs next to an angry, acrobatic Madonna or trying to fit in to the crunchy cliques of serious devotees. At Ishta, I felt immediately at home. Why? Tracy at the front desk quickly learned (and has since remembered) my name, enthusiastically shared the credentials and class choices and never oversold too long, pre-paid packages. And with their $40 all-you-can-ohm two week trial to be sure I fit in, I’m hooked. They delivered what they promised. Namaste. 

Devonshire Optical, a small eyeglass shop near my apartment, has been around a long time without losing its personal touch. Jennifer immediately picked up that I wanted “funky frames”, as she called them (a change from salespeople who assume I want something ‘my age’) and wasn’t afraid to take charge of making me cool. She convinced me that I’d look good onstage with fresh, rectangular frames and thanks to the new technology of the special lenses, I’d see like I hadn’t seen before.  A simple tech explanation, honest fashion advice, and fast, no fuss measurement for a speedy exit.  Precise 20/20 service.

Finally, the ultimate personal service. Today, on my way to work, as I was thinking I looked pretty pulled together, a young woman came up behind me to say, “I hope I’m not being impertinent, but the zipper on your blouse is halfway down. May I help you fix it?” (Honest, she actually said “impertinent”! Loved that!) Rather than being mortified, I felt saved by her sympathetic, polite gesture. Identify the need, help the ‘customer’ without criticizing and get the job done. Service gets personal…and wins the gold! 

Tag-a-long blog

Reading Mary Lou’s blog, I thought of a similar gold-star customer experience I recently had at JackRabbit Sports, a fitness apparel and shoe store in Union Square. 

If you are a rookie runner, you often don’t realize the importance of finding a shoe that fits correctly.  Most novices either gravitate to the coolest-looking shoe on display (a mistake I have made) or the most inexpensive (another personal mistake—I live in NY, cut a gal a break). Both are behaviors that can result in serious injury.  At larger sporting goods stores this mistake often goes undetected—the best you can hope for is a half-hearted push on your toe (if you get any service at all), and then you’re hustled to the checkout gripping a box without knowing anything about its contents. 

At Jack Rabbit they take the coach approach to selling to you.  For starters, they refuse to sell you shoes without having you try them out on a treadmill in the back of the store.  They film you while you run and after playing back the tape they are able to “diagnose” your running style and prescribe the perfect shoe–taking into account your stride, the amount you plan on running and the type of terrain you’ll be on.  They’re also friendly—no scary triathletes who drink 4 protein shakes a day and judge people for not having a six pack.

As an extra incentive to come back, once you have purchased a pair of shoes you get 10% off any future purchases!  You leave a more educated runner and satisfied customer.  Love them!

-Lily Wagner

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