marcoRecorder

Disruptiveness matters

I already written and tweeted about Brussels’ disgraceful customer service culture (in basically all realms) and I thought I had covered it all. But you know, sometimes you think you hit rock  bottom but actually someone manages to dig through the bottom and find another layer of low. This time though, it was an international brand that inexorably faces the distaste of the Belgian capital in providing decent customer service.

A few weeks ago, I desperately needed to get a suit for a wedding and went to the SuitSupply shop nearby my office. I entered, approached a clerk and said “Hi, I would like to buy a suit.” I didn’t say “I’m browsing” or “Mmmhhh, just checking.” I said I wanted a suit. The purchase was just a matter of minutes away. Usually, I’m more careful in displaying interest straightaway, but this time I didn’t have the time for it.

To my surprise, the clerk simply told me “Yeah, check over there” indicating, with utter boredom, the suits department…(right, I’m at SuitSupply…I guess there are suits :/) but I expected something more that a simple indication like “yes, we got suits here.”

Anyway, I look at the suits, pick a few models that could go and approach the man once again: “I’m off to a wedding in Italy. It’s gonna be very warm. Do you think this fabric would suit the hot weather?” – His reply: “Of course. (Full stop).” Looking bored and somehow unmotivated. I asked about some other items and kept getting the same attitude. I was the only customer at that time in the shop.

I decided, I was not going to buy a 600/700€ piece of clothing with such customer service and left. As an active Twitterer, I shared my experience. See below

With both pleasure and surprise, @suitsupply got back to me to know what happened. I was happy to explain. I appreciate when companies try to improve and listen to customers’ feedback. They apologised and asked me if I wanted to be contacted again by the shop manager in order to get a second opinion. I was happy to accept…and here is where the customer service / communication disaster happened.

I received this e-mail (I deleted the author’s name).

Let’s look at it:

Cattura

  • Debatable use of English.
  • Some text in black some in blue.
  • No apologies offered.
  • “…that is not the experience YOU SHOULD HAVE after a visit…”

OK, not everybody (me included) is a native English speaker, but if you manage a huge store of an international chain in a European capital, you should be aware of basic manners, especially with an unhappy client. Anyway, I gave him my number.

They call me a few days later but I was abroad for work and missed the call. They sent me this

“Dear Sir,
I tried to call you several times without being able to reach you.
Met vriendelijke groet, Kind regards,”

Let’s look at it again:
  • No greetings
  • They do not offer an alternative.
  • They just said they called and I didn’t reply

I explained I was abroad and they could contact me anytime as of now. It’s been two months and they never got back.

Unsurprisingly, they have 2.5 stars on Yelp.

Here we see how the social media manager of the brand made an effort to make up for bad service while the shop manager repeatedly displayed bad manners. Have you had a similar experience in Brussels or elsewhere?

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9 thoughts on “A disastrous Suit Supply customer experience…yet again, in Brussels

  1. Jorge says:

    Hi Marco,

    I can perfectly understand. I have never entered in that store, but I have had this kind of experience in many shops in Brussels. I have the feeling that they don’t have any clue of customer service in most of shops here.

    Good luck with Suit Supply, in case you ever receive an answer. 😉

    Regards

  2. jojofry says:

    “But you know, sometimes you think you hit rock bottom but actually someone manages to dig through the bottom and find another layer of low” – that basically sums up Brussels to me! Glad I’m not the only one, I thought I might have actually been going mad but you’re right, customer service just isn’t a thing over there.

    1. Frederic says:

      I live in moscow and am from Brussels. Your Mere présence is a nuisance here…. 😁 Compared to moscow, Brussels is the most customer-centric city ever. Yes it has many flaws but then again….In the US shop assistants are more subservient to you than the average dog.i Find it degrading for them. Given, you help pay their salary but they are still human

  3. marcoRecorder says:

    Hi Jo. I have written and tweeted about the topic a few times. Guess what? Most, if not all, the bashing I got for writing about it came from local business owners with comments like “you deserve bad customer service” or “nobody told you to come here…” This says a lot both about customer service and the locals / international community divide. Saluti, M.

  4. Alex says:

    Clearly there’s room for improvement. On the other hand they did an effort to make it up to you. Is it reasonable to expect perfect English in Brussels where official languages are Dutch and French? Living abroad does require some flexibility.

    1. marcoRecorder says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid the Brussels store only “made an effort” when they saw I blogged about it. The only effort was made by the SuitSupply Twitter managers (who are probably based abroad) who tried to make up for it. On the language issue I still disagree in this very case. The shop is based in the eurobubble where 80% potential customers are expats. Still, the issue explained in the post transcends grammar or form.

  5. PIeter says:

    Had a similar experience with Suitsupply in Antwerp.
    Staff didn’t even notice me.

  6. Serghei says:

    My latest experience in Brussels’ Suit Supply store (next to Porte de Namur). Good money for value suits. Excellent customer service on top of that.

  7. MNCH says:

    Dear Marco, I experience this type of situation everywhere I go in Brussels/Belgium. I’m sorry that you had to go through this and like many of you said, I also thought I was on my own – may be expecting too much customer service. My issue was with a phone provider who disconnected my entire service just because the payment was short of 3 Euros [my mistake I know]. I didn’t have any telephone, internet or TV. It took more than 1 week to reconnect me. Wouldn’t it have been better to call me instead to ask why my payment was short as opposed to totally disconnecting the service. Good job, I have a mobile phone with another provider. I am British and speak French fluently. I never speak French here as I don’t want to come down to the same level as these people. My turn to be racist !!!!

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