Business Good customer service Laws

High standards or just acceptable customer service?

It is important to have high standards for customer service wherever you shop and whatever you are buying. In this article we’ll discuss briefly high standards, exceeding your expectations and your basic legal entitlements.

Good customer service is what you should be paying for. Anything below this is not acceptable. This is also the case when you are buying a product. The cost of the product includes the costs of the whole transaction process. Knowing what is acceptable and what exceeds good service will help you know when to complain and when to praise.

When I asked on my Facebook page for examples of excellent service, the results were interesting. For example, Paul said that he had ordered some chocolate Easter eggs and they had arrived broken. He had been impressed by the retailer sending out replacements and letting him keep the broken chocolate. I wasn’t impressed! This was the minimum they should have done, as they would have had to pay for the return. And what would they have done with it had he returned it anyway?!

Personally, I do not see this as a high standard of customer service, I see it as just acceptable. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Paul was entitled to goods free from defects and of satisfactory quality. Within 30 days of purchase he was entitled to a full refund. It would be up to the company whether they paid for the return or let him keep it. Telling him to return it would have cost them money and been pretty stupid, as they wouldn’t be able to resell it!

Excellent service would have been if the company had sent him a gift with the replacement.

Doing more than the legal minimum when you receive a complaint


When the retailer pays for return postage on a faulty item, that is the legal minimum requirement and is therefore not an example of “good service”. Good would be the company being very apologetic, treating you as an individual and speedily sending you a replacement or refund.

For the retailer to contact the courier who hasn’t delivered the item you paid for is the legal requirement, it’s certainly not “over and above”. If the retailer tells you to contact the courier, when your contract is with the retailer, would be bad service.

This may sound harsh or ungrateful or that there is an unnecessary sense of entitlement but it really isn’t. So many businesses try and fob consumers off (see 7 Common fob offs that companies use to not give refunds!) that when they get the correct response they feel it’s really good. It isn’t, it’s that the other responses are poor!

I recently complained to Tesco that an item was missing in my delivery. I had made a mistake. Being honest I told them that I had actually received the item and they then said that I could keep the item. That’s pretty good service. It helps with goodwill.

Here’s a good example of really touching service:

Butternut box sent blanket for dog no longer able to have their food as not long left to live


“Acceptable” service would have been to just acknowledge the change, “good” would have been to have shown some empathy, “excellent” is how they performed in this case.

In my article How to exceed customer expectations and why you should do it I provide some examples for businesses of what I believe is exceptionally good service. The example of the hotel upgrading us to a better room for free and then to the best room in the place. That’s really exceptional. I had not complained, , it was just pure niceness!

People remember how they were made to feel, so if you feel that you received something that someone else hasn’t, then you are nearer receiving “over and above” service.

And if you’re a consumer… make sure you know your legal rights!

Help with your complaints

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


And if you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo


101 Habits of an Effective Complainer provides you with more tips like the one in this post




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Purchase downloadable templates to gain that redress simply and swiftly

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

Want to do the right thing for your customers and get them coming back time and time again? Here are some resources.

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

The Complaining Cow logo, complaints, consultancy, speaker, workshops and more


See The Complaining Cow Services for how Helen can help you increase sales through tweaking and improving complaint handling and customer service and just why you should choose her!

Business Good customer service

How to revitalise towns

derelict shops

There is always lots of talk about how to revitalise our High Streets and towns, but who actually asks consumers what they want?

I do.

As a consumer champion I hear exactly what consumers want. When I ask consumers what they would like to see in the High Street, there are two issues that come through loud and clear every time:

Parking to shop

Consumers are fed up with having to pay over the odds for parking. Around the country where councils have made parking free for 2 hours, footfall has increased. A classic response from one shopper was “Needs to follow what retail parks have done to see where customer appetites are. Having a large open plan purpose built parking area instead of 23 stupid different car parks that you need to drive around before you can see if there is a space then reverse out and follow a one way system back to try again elsewhere.” People with disabilities often get forgotten too. Towns and cities offering mobility scooters are not helping people keep their mobility or independence. Consideration should be given to making spaces available at key points.

The High Streets Task Force recognises the importance of parking to revitalising our shopping areas but there is still much to do to get the right evidence and deliver what consumers want.

Independent businesses

Over and over again consumers say they want market stalls to fill the space in the large empty stores. This can be done by reducing the rents to allow the smaller businesses in. Councils need to provide incentives for local and independent businesses. The pandemic has shown that people want to shop locally and they want to support independent shops but it is often so difficult, especially with companies like Amazon able to undercut.

Consumers also want to see an increase of shops that “actually sell stuff”. This means a reduction in the betting shops, estate agents and more than one store selling the same thing. Bring back the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Literally! Councils need to purchase empty buildings and turn them into exciting places and opportunities for local businesses and residents.

Creativity in our town planning

Companies have found that flexibility in working is now saving costs, so they won’t be rushing to get staff back in and certainly not if they can’t do it safely. Even if they did this alone, it is not enough to stimulate the town centres and High Streets. Empty shops and just talk of lower rent and rates with better parking will not populate those spaces not filled by vaping stores, betting shops or tanning booths. So, we need to be creative. There’s a difference between a run-of-the-mill project manager working creatively and a creative person working creatively. The creative person can bring a whole wealth of knowledge, skills, imagination, inspiration, experience and vision to the table.

Someone with project management experience is certainly needed. But not a retail background. An experienced individual with an arts background, for example, who will bring a whole new and fresh approach to the locality. Many will already be experienced in truly working in partnership with other organisations and are effective when working with limited resources! They will bring in community groups from which great things grow, so as to bring in custom in a whole new way. The very basic and most obvious is, of course, the community cafes and the work that goes on in them, and different pop up stalls each month, but there is so much more that could be done.

Shopping and community go together

People are attracted to meeting and being with more of their community, doing a variety of things. Now more than ever: Organise a flash mob, the local theatre group putting something on, an artist in residence, children’s entertainers, a workshop to learn something new. Dragging the kids shopping can be a difficult experience! How much easier would it be to have activities that they can join in? This gives a reason for the children to go too.

Working innovatively with these community, voluntary and small creative businesses, such as being able to raise their profile, recruit and sell, would be a “win-win” for all.

Town centres could and should be at the heart of a community, whilst many high streets are currently soulless and lacking imagination.

Covid has brought a variety of obstacles for the local community group struggling to navigate the mitigation indoors and with hire charges and participant conundrums etc. Creative industries have been as hard hit, if not more so than the High Street, so why not bring them together? The high street is a place where councils can step up and help bring together many different organisations and a large cross section of the community with the correct creative strategy and understanding.

Put a creative in charge not a town planner! Radical? Not really. It makes perfect logical sense.

For some innovative and creative ways to revitalise our High Streets and shopping centres see The Art of reviving the great British High Street

Woman in hat painting on a wall