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Does Melbourne Have Good Customer Service?

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by Michaelie Clark (subscribe)
Pun-loving freelance writer based in Victoria.
Published April 9th 2012
It's part of the holy trinity of the consumer world, but when it comes to the service experience, many Melburnians would say it's one tenet that has lost its disciples – and its discipline. But is the service in Melbourne really so bad? Here at WeekendNotes, we've had the privilege of reviewing many fine establishments throughout the city that we've found to have exceptional service. For example, we discovered that Is It Café in Prahran is committed to its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, and that Skin Deep Beauty Therapy in the CBD has earned a loyal client base through friendliness and professionalism. Linda Dalziel was impressed by the thoughtful attentiveness of the staff at The Wild Oak Restaurant and Wine Bar in Olinda, and Sam van Zweden found congenial, helpful salespeople (and a good read) at The Paperback Bookshop on Bourke St.

Customer Service in Melbourne
Does Melbourne have good customer service? Image credit: SXC

That said, there's little doubt that we've all run into bad service from time to time. We've dealt with grunted greetings, long queues and overwhelming fakery. We've once, twice or thrice had to send back food in restaurants where our orders have undergone mysterious transformations somewhere between the table and the kitchen. We've engaged in the tacit tipping battle with those who expect something for doing not much, and we have not been impressed.

It's probably safe to say we'll never have a city-wide culture of excellent customer service, but are we at least headed in that direction? Or is Melbourne just several thousand square miles of rudeness and insincerity? To help you decide, we've put together a fun quiz that rates the standard of service you most commonly experience.

WeekendNotes Quick Quiz: Putting Melbourne Customer Service to the Test
For each of the scenarios below, choose the option that is closest to what you most frequently experience when under those circumstances (or similar) in Melbourne. Add up the points for each of your selected options and see the results below.

Service Scenario 1: You're trying on a pair of pants in a Melbourne boutique, and you emerge from the dressing room to find that you look like an even higher-hitched version of Tweedle Dee. The sales assistant:
a) Tactfully suggests a different style, and uses a practiced eye to select some pantalons that are a little more bon (1 point)
b) Unsuccessfully withholds a smirk from the other side of the store, then calls a friend to discuss the hilarity of Lewis Carroll's work (3 points)
c) Tells you that you look ahhh-mazing and that you obviously have a flair for fashion, and maybe you should get the $200 top as well (2 points)

Service Scenario 2: You hail a taxi at 10pm and the driver asks for your destination through the window. You are an honest person, so you name the place, which is about three kilometres away. The driver:
a) Leaves you where you stand (3 points)
b) Takes you to your destination, but displays severe annoyance with you by sighing a lot and driving like an aggrieved loon (2 points)
c) Takes you to your destination with good grace and offers you your change with only the barest of hesitancies (1 point)

Service Scenario 3: You're at a mid-range Melbourne tapas bar and you order a sauvignon blanc but receive a cabernet sauvignon. You alert the waitperson to the error. The waitperson:
a) Apologises, mutters that someone else got the order wrong and replaces the wine (2 points)
b) Apologises, replaces the wine immediately and strikes it from the bill (1 point)
c) Replaces the wine and adds both to the bill (3 points)

Service Scenario 4: You go to a large DVD and CD store looking for a particular movie. You look in the appropriate section but can't locate it. You find a sales assistant and ask if they have the movie in stock. The sales assistant:
a) Says they aren't sure, then reluctantly leads you to the aisle you already looked in, scans the shelves for a couple of seconds and then tells you that they mustn't have it (2 points)
b) Says they aren't sure, calls another sales assistant over and asks them, then sends you to ask someone else, who also isn't sure and doesn't bother looking (3 points)
c) Checks the inventory, finds that a copy has been filed in another section, collects it for you and asks if there is anything else they can help with (1 point)

Service Scenario 5: You've run out of milk so you head to your local convenience store to pick some up. When you arrive, the staff member on duty:
a) Smiles and greets you, asks if they can help then directs you to the clean and well stocked milk fridge (1 point)
b) Doesn't smile or make eye contact, even while greeting you and attempting to on-sell products on the counter (2 points)
c) Has head-phones in and doesn't greet you, but does remove them briefly to tell you there's no milk (3 points)

Service Scenario 6: You've had dinner in a moderately expensive restaurant. The meal was nice and the service was friendly and attentive, and you say so with your thanks, but you feel that you've spent quite enough so you hand over your credit card without adding a tip to the bill. The waitperson:
a) Acts slightly more coolly towards you (2 points)
b) Thanks you for your appreciation and your business and remains as friendly as ever (1 point)
c) Barely conceals a sudden air of disdain and hostility and sends you on your way (3 points)

Service Scenario 7: You go to a hairdresser to get a cut. The hairdresser:
a) Leaves you waiting thirty minutes, knocks you in the head repeatedly with the hairdryer while gossiping to someone else and leaves bits of hair stuck to your face (3 points)
b) Offers you a drink, offers you a magazine (current issue) and executes the cut with skill (1 point)
c) Offers you a drink, offers you a magazine (non-current issue) and executes the cut with skill while engaging you in artificially chipper conversation (2 points)

7-9 Points: Your experience of customer service in Melbourne is generally very good. It's possible that you are a celebrity, a nun, or an attractive police officer. Your leisure escapades are blessed with smiles and banter and obliging goodwill.
10-15 Points: It's a bit of a mixed bag. You're just as often exasperated by poor service as you are pleasantly surprised by great service, but you're pretty savvy about where to go and have a few favourite haunts around the city that don't let you down.
16-24 Points: You're not particularly impressed with customer service in Melbourne, and quite rightly, as your experiences leave a bit to be desired. You are an observant person with high standards and you value excellence, but often find yourself time-poor and therefore faced with the frustrating caper of quick-fix options.

Do you have reservations about the service in Melbourne's restaurants? Do you feel like you're getting ripped off in the service department of Melbourne's stores? Does the customer service of Melbourne's taxis drive you insane? Or do you think Melbourne has customer service in the bag? Feel free to share your quiz results, your experiences as a customer and your thoughts about the service culture of our city.
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My local convenience store has " great " customer service.
by skot_ (score: 0|6) 2572 days ago
My score is 12 which is about right. I try to stay away from places where I've had really bad service, even if they're more convenient.
by dartm (score: 0|4) 2570 days ago
I got 9, which doesn't surprise me. I rarely encounter poor customer service. I have to say though, I have eaten out a lot and never, ever encountered a wait person who was peeved that I didn't tip them. Oh yeah, in the US I did, but not in Melbourne.
by kazad (score: 0|4) 2563 days ago
Witches in Britches just cancelled my daughters birthday party that we had booked for the 16th September. She is devastated! We booked this on the 9th of March so that we could specifically have this date and now just three weeks out you have cancelled it. I don't accept their excuse that a cast member has "family commitments". Surely they have an understudy or some other arrangement when cast members are sick or can't make it. I just think we have been treated so poorly and I am very upset. Now I have the stress of trying to find another venue and everything we have tried is of course already booked out! Thanks for nothing Witches in Britches...!
by vikki (score: 0|4) 2433 days ago
Try going into Job Warehouse in Bourke St to get something - you wont get good service there! haha. For those in the know or the curiious, its actually an attraction to go and see the place. I think customer service is a 2 way street. Some of customers I have dealt with will tell you that you have no customer service when they want you to go against the company's stated rules just so they can get what they want. In that case, should we listen to them or read their reviews?
by Jerome (score: 2|111) 2568 days ago

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