Great Kit, Lousy Staff: Hilditch and Key
Saturday 18 July 2009
After yesterday’s post this may seem a little odd. But a shop that sells great kit, but tops it off with lousy service is one of life’s petty little torments –like having a cigarette without a match.
Whatever distinction Hilditch & Key hold with regard their shirt making, one area where they unquestionably excel is employing the rudest, most disinterested, unhelpful and generally unpleasant staff on Jermyn Street.
I’ve worked in retail and know how hard it can be, but that is never an excuse for poor service. What I never understood, and I saw it in my own retailing days, is why people who earn substantially less than those they serve are so willing to look down their noses at people who aren’t spending much money. The staff of Hilditch & Key are a prime example of this trait.
I have no doubt that if you wish to spend £400 on a set of made to measure shirts then they will fawn all over you. This may indeed explain how they have gotten away with it for so long. Of course what they forget, as did my retail co-worker back in the day, is that a man may only come in for a couple of handkerchiefs one day, but treated well, tomorrow he may return for that £400 worth of shirts.
When I went into Hilditch & Key on Saturday not one member of staff said hello, good afternoon or goodbye when I left. They certainly didn’t offer any help. And this isn’t the only time this has happened. Normally there is a dumpy woman in there with a face like a bull dog chewing a wasp –and a not dissimilar disposition. She wasn’t there Saturday, but the sullen blond and a ‘fancy myself’ young man at the counter were not an improvement. A word of advice, hand someone a chip and pin machine don’t sling it. But to be fair she wasn’t interested in me, I was only a customer buying a couple of handkerchiefs, she and her mate had to denigrate the gentleman who proceeded me.
So, while I may return for the odd small item, if I really cannot get it anywhere else, any real money to spend and I’ll leave Hilditch & Key behind me, cross the road and head to Turnbull & Asser.
I sometimes considered setting up a consultancy to show retailers what real customer care is about. But for those who couldn’t afford me I offer some free advice.
(1) Snobbery, rudeness or sulleness are not features of exclusivity.
(2) Exclusivity is a matter of money. Money is a matter of timing. Today’s student is tomorrow’s billionaire, so mind your manners.
(3) People talk. Don’t think one bad incident will be confined to just your staff and the shopper –they will tell everybody they know –or blog about it.
(4) Shop assistants:
a. You may hate the company you work for, but that isn’t the fault of the shopper.
b. You may hate your job; in which case get another one. Don’t take it out on customers.
c. Have pride in doing a job well. If you can’t do that you’ll suck at any job you ever hold, however cool.
d. You don’t have to fawn over every customer, nor do you need to make a nuisance of yourself. However, a simple hello and goodbye is the minimum required of you.
e. If you’re serving a customer then serve them. Do not continue your conversation with your mate standing next to you. Oh, and it’s probably not a good idea to denigrate the previous customer while serving another. We can hear you even if they have left.
(5) Retailers, Managers and Business Owners:
a. A rude old man is a rude old man -regardless of whether he is a revered craftsman or not.
b. A rude old man is a rude old man –even if he has worked for your company man and boy.
c. 16 year olds and students may be cheap, but if they turn customers away then they’re costing you money.
d. No one lives forever. Look after everybody who shops with you no matter their age or current spending power –you will need them one day.
e. Shit only happens to shitty businesses.
Congratulations Hilditch & Key –Nil points!
Posted by Stealth