Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can the customer experience ever be too good?

Customer service in the US is famously better than it is in the UK. So much so that it takes a bit of getting used to. Shop assistants barely even pause texting to look up when you enter most high street shops, and British waiters are experts in studiously avoiding eye contact. Meanwhile over here they accost you with offers of help from the moment you walk in, which can be alarmingly. Even after you've shopped they throw out a ‘Need help to your car, ma’am?’.

So far, so clichéd. I always thought the British were underserved by the cliché though. The family who ran my old corner shop were always very friendly, for what it's worth. And the customer service in John Lewis is usually brilliant.

Still, I don’t think there is anything in the UK to match the experience TLOML and I just had at a shop called Pirch, which claims to purvey joy. No, really.

Thanks to an unreliable oven and a juicy insurance cheque, we are in the market for a new range. Our house came fitted with a 48” Thermador, from which it is rather difficult to retreat. I mean, we’re not going to take it out and replace it with something smaller, for starters. What would we put in the gap, after all? It turns out there’s no such thing as a budget 48” range, and if there were, it would probably affect our home’s value. Frankly if your real estate listing doesn’t call out a Thermador, Wolf or Viking range you might just as well spraypaint ‘tear down’ on the front of the house.

Therefore we are in the market for a fancy range. And therefore we went to a fancy shop. We went to a mall in Orange County that looks like this:

Jjust as an aside, heres how the Farmers like to purvey their goods down in the OC (puts the trestle tables of Saltburn's farmers' market to shame somewhat):

I think the farmers were out on the golf course they day we visited

Anyway, back to Pirch and the reason for our visit. As you walk through the fancy schmancy doors, you are greeted with an offer of coffee – freshly ground and made to order. Then an actual chef talked us through how he would could what with which range, and did a little steam oven demo. They offered us a test drive: a trial run cooking on the ovens in the store (with foods their chef had prepped – no need for us to chop or peel, obvs). I'm not sure I could cope with cooking in a kitchen this pristine, so I declined.

They had a chicken on a rotisserie which I think if we’d wanted we could have helped ourselves to.
That's TLOML's nose. I cropped out the drool.
All the appliances are wired and plumbed in. In fact I think you can even use the loo or take a shower if you want.

It was actually rather overwhelming. TLOML didn’t even want to look at the wine fridges, which is how I knew it was all a bit much for him. We shuffled out feeling drained and somehow not entirely full of joy. We really do need a new range, and it does need to be a posh one - but I’m not sure we really needed the Pirch experience. Does anyone?

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