Do's and Don'ts: Customer Service


Working Your Way Around Customer Service 

If you haven't guessed yet, this week has a theme and that theme is customer service. I think that customer service is an important part of consumer culture, and there's definitely consumerism in France. So while I would love for France to change, which doesn't look like it will be happening soon, I guess I will just have to learn the do's and don'ts of customer service in France. 


Don't get frazzled when they act like it's your fault. I think that's just the way they handle things. The employee could have messed something up but they will glare at you or expect you to admit that you caused the problem rather than admitting that they're wrong. I guess that's one way to avoid customer service problems, intimidate the customer and convince them that it was their fault. Well don't fall for this trick. Stand your ground.


Be prepared to tackle the impossible. It seems that whenever you ask employees for something, it becomes impossible. Whether it's insuring that the delivery is made on time or that you ask them to go look in the back if it's in stock, nope that's impossible. Things that we expect in American consumerism are  invisible in French consumerism. It's there but you just don't know how to get it. They don't care about the inconvenience that it is causing their customer, they care about the inconvenience that it is causing them. Even asking where something is in a grocery store has proven to be an impossible task. So be ready to convince them it's not. 

A View of Lyon


Don't forget that employees have the right to not disclose their information to you. In America, we can ask for employees names and their ID numbers in order to report them to their managers, this gives them a big reason to ensure quality service. In France you can't do that because employee identification is protected. Employees have a lot more protection in France than in the US, which in turn gives them less incentive to give quality service. It seems that they'll only give it out of the goodness of their heart. So if you rely on reporting employees, you're going to have to find a new method in France.


Remember that if you're trying to bend the rules, you won't get any help. French people, especially in Paris are particular about the rules that they follow. Crossing the street on a red red light or allowing pedestrians the right away are some rules that are neglected. But allowing customers to bend or break some rules is always a no. Can I bring this small bag on board? No. Can you ship this faster because you were late to sending it out? No. You have to work miracles to get an extra inch in French customer service.


Don't forget to get the ball rolling immediately. Bureaucracy and just the general pace of things in France are much, much slower. Agonizingly slow. Let my French paperwork be proof to you. So if anything goes wrong, make sure that you immediately start to deal with the situation. Procrastination will get you nowhere in this system.


Remember to ask for compensation. One trick that I have learned from my mom is to always ask how are they going to rectify the situation. I used this on my internet that still hadn't been delivered until one month after I paid for it. In the end the company refunded the month that I paid for and gave me one free month. But they will not advertise this so you have to ask for it. Companies have this in their budget to rectify situations to try to keep consumers to keep coming back.

So if you haven't figured it out by now, getting good customer service in France is a hard thing, especially in Paris, and you're going to have to forget all the American ideas and go with it. But how do you insure to get good customer service? You can't. There's no specific thing that will help and there's not much that works. So just make sure that you start off kissing a lot of butt then don't be afraid to go from 0 to 60 in a second.

But wait, there's hope! I have always had a pleasant experience in small stores owned by locals. Especially the further into the country you get, the nice they get. You would like a special made thing from the butcher, no problem if you give them enough time. Go into the city and you may be looked at like you sprouted antlers and a carrot nose. So now when I want good service, I think small rather than risk it at the bigger stores.  

You Might Also Like


Comments? Questions? Advice? Let me know: