Great customer service in Germany

115 posts in this topic

No, the title is not a typo. Although the customer service in Germany is in general very poor, there are exceptions to that. These exceptions show that there are at least few companies that understand the impact of customer satisfaction on their business results. And these are both large international companies and small local businesses. If we all choose these companies instead of the ones with typically poor service, we can first endorse these businesses and second bring other companies to offer better service too.

 

As I’m writing in this blog on customer service, there are many business opportunities from good customer service in Germany. And although these service problems that impact the German economy cannot be solved over night, our own experience can be improved one by one, especially if we share the good ones with each other.

 

So, I hope we can all share positive service experiences in Germany and endorse these companies, so life becomes a little easier here. Let’s leave the bitching about poor customer service to other threads like this one on poor customer service experiences in Munich or this Germany-wide.

 

I’ll start. Here are three examples of great customer service in Germany. Who would have thought?

 

1. Laundry cleaning services: Die Reinigung, Riem Arcaden, Willy-Brandt-Platz 5, Munich

Greet you by name when you come in; open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 - 20:00; 2 hours turn-around time for dress shirt cleaning; standard price per dress shirt 1.19€

 

2. Auto glass repair: Carglass

Toll free 24h, 7 days a week customer support hotline; appointment setup online or by phone; friendly staff

 

3. Online perfume and cosmetics store: Parfumchannel

Call you should an item become delayed; quick delivery

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I took two watches to Juwelier Fridrich to have links removed, they said it would take about 45 minutes, go window shopping, they'll be done when you return.

They were done - but instead of removing the links they had replaced the batteries.

The boss, who happened to be serving me, asked me to wait a minute, disappeared with the watches, then returned about five minutes later with the links removed - he had personally done one while his employee did the other.

And all of this free of charge because his shop has messed up!

(My daughter and I were also bowed out of the shop by three shop assistants on the way to the door with a fourth rushing to open the door for us. The Pretty Woman treatment indeed!)

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I have a BMW employee rented car - which means that I have to give it back after 6 months and it MUST be scratch/dent/ding free - no exceptions. If you scratch a wheel on the curb - 800€ - each. So, it is very important to not scratch the car.

 

So, had the car 3 days and some idiot walks by my car and leaves a 1 meter scratch on the side. I knew I would have to have this repaired before I give it back. Went to the BMW dealership on the corner of Frankfurter Ring and Knorrstrasse - normally they are pricks and horrible service. On Thursday I went and asked how much to fix the scratch? He said 'well, we could try to buff it out but you need to make an appt'. Then he said 'is the car here? Let's look.' He took the car, was gone for 10 minutes, told me to wait in the lounge, etc. He came back and the scratch was completely gone and NO CHARGE. I flipped him a 10€ tip and told him I loved him.

 

Great service for once by the BMW dealership.

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standard price per dress shirt 1.19€

The closest I ever got to such a price was at Martinizig, €6 for 4 shirts (ergo €1.50 each), and when I complained because when I got the shirts back all the collars were not just creased but practically pleated, the reply was

"Well, what do you expect for only €1.50 per shirt?" :lol:

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I would give an honourable mention to AOL, not everyone's favourite Internet provider but their German customer service people are clued up, you always get through to them, and they usually sort your problem out on the spot.

 

Also, although I'm no four eyes myself, my girlfriend is, and I've always been impressed at the helpfulness of staff in Fielmann. They can be a bit 'in your face' but they are usually very friendly as well.

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About a year ago there were internet rumors concerning the discontinuing of Polaroid Sx-70 film. I had just moved to germany and this was very disconcerning due to the fact that I am a Polaroid artist. I emailed Polaroid of Germany my questions if, when and why Sx-70 was to be discontinued. I did not expect an answer from then due to the fact that Polaroid of American usually takes two to three weeks to answer questions ( in fact I knew a guy that got an answer two months after he submitted some questions to them). Well back to the situation at hand. Polaroid of america was very slow in their answer about when and if Sx-70 film was being discontinued. To my astonishment Polaroid of Germany not only answered my questions in 3 hours but also informed me where i could pick up the last batches of film in my area. It even went further to tell of what other films it was planning to discontinue (film which others in the states had no idea were also going to discontinued). It gave me a detailed time line for Europe and the U.S. I was in disbelief. I even told the film group I belonged to in the U.S. to email Polaroid of Germany over the U.S. to get their questions answered. The big plus was also discovering that Polaroid of Germany was going to continue their last SX-70 run two months longer than that of the U.S. which worked in my favor.

 

Edit: I also want to say that all this was done in English which surprised me.

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Yesterday I had the shock of my life in Lidl. I went there after work to grap a few things, went with my trolly expecting the usual long queues, but heck there were 2 checkouts open ( ususally one) and only one person at each, Popped my goods on the belt, and they were promptly scanned by the usual spotty teenager, paid my bill with EC card and then low and behold he hands my card, receipt and a CHOCOLATE to me and wishes my a pleasent evening. I was gobsmacked. Has Lidl had a change of heart?

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My biggest surprise with customer service here was about four years ago when I bought a surround sound system in Aldi. While unpacking the components and checking them against the manual I realized that a scart cable was missing so I went back to the shop, showed the unopened package to the manager and explained that there should be two scart cables but there was only one in the pack. Without hesitating he said "no problem, buy a cable, bring me the receipt and we'll pay for it".

I bought the cable, they repaid me without question and apologized for the inconvenience.

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Christ the brain must be asleep today as I almost forgot about the cooker.

 

In November 07 I ordered an electric cooker from the Quelle website on a Friday morning, this being Germany I wasn't expecting delivery until the following week. Monday morning I received a call from one of their reps who apologized for the fact that they had not only failed to deliver within 24 hours but had also failed to call me on Friday and arrange a delivery time. Furthermore, the model I had ordered was not in stock so they offered me the next model up the line at a considerable discount and waived all delivery fees.

This all sounded too good so I had him repeat the offer to a German collgeue to make sure I wasn't getting it wrong. The upshot of it all was that for an extra €28 I got a cooker worth €110 more than the one I had ordered.

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Having lived here for over 20 years, I have noticed a HUGE improvement in service. Especially if you have to go to one Amt or another. Perhaps they made every one take classes or something, but everyone seems nicer. When I recieve good service or someone is quite nice, I do make sure I tell them how much I appreciate the good service. Encouragement will work wonders! Even the folks at the Deutsche Post have improved over the years.

 

A few months ago, I was shopping at Aldis. As I was packing my groceries, a woman called my attention to the fact that the bag of almonds I had bought was leaking all over the floor. I went back to the cashier, waited til he was through checking someone out and showed him the bag and asked if I could get a replacement. He was insistent that the bag was intact when he scanned it. I insisted that I seldom trashed my own groceries, and that I did not wildly fling them around, so the bag had to have been open before hand. He was rude and refused to replace the item. I came home, wrote an email to Aldis and lo an behold, 3 days later, I got an email back. It was not very satisfactory, so I wrote them again. This time, I got a personal phone call, from a woman who was very concerned. This pleased me to no end. It was not about the cost of the almonds, it was about the fact that they have a rude cashier who needs to have an attitude adjustment.

 

While working for one of the well known steakhouses here in town, I had the hardest time getting the wait staff to simply replace a spilled drink without charge. I tried and tried to explain to them that a customer is already embarrassed by the fact that they made a mess, that no one spills their drink on purpose, and if you give them a free replacement, they walk away feeling good about their experience at the restaurant. Oh, it was like pulling teeth! They just did not want to do this. Even when I explained that for the cost of a coke, something like 10 cents, you can either make good will or bad will, which would they prefer? How would they want to be treated if it happened to them. Some of them then got it, but it sure was a struggle.

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I've seen a huge change in Lidl too. I used to absolutely dread going in there because the staff were so grumpy and rude and lately they're always friendly, service with a smile and they never fail to wish me a pleasant evening or weekend. I was absolutely shocked the first time it happened.

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I have always found Aldi to be unbureaucratic when I bring something back because there is something wrong with it.

Had yucky experiences with Lidl years ago and have avoided bringing anything back since. They may have changed, though.

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I had the hardest time getting the wait staff to simply replace a spilled drink without charge. I tried and tried to explain to them that a customer is already embarrassed by the fact that they made a mess,

Sorry but if the customer spilt it by mistake why should he expect a free refill? Same as if you go into a shop and accidentally break an ornament.. of course the customer didn't mean to break it, but he should pay for it.

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Why should the drink be replaced? Because the drink only costs the restaurant about 10 cents, but the good will it buys can be worth so much more. This is common knowledge in management. A disgruntled customer will tell 10 people about their experience. A customer who has had a bad experience turned around into a positive and satisfactory experience will also tell others. Word of mouth can kill or make a company. It just does not cost that much to be nice or replace small items. Any store that wants to increase business will do so. If I had a store and someone broke something accidentally, and I mean truly accidentally, I would not charge them for it.

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This is exactly the type of service and mentality that is missing here. If a customer spills a drink, there is simply no question about it from a business point of view - you give them another drink for free. In the big picture, the drink is nothing, keeping or making the customer happy is.

 

I remember I went to a beer garden near my work and ordered a beer and it was truly awful - no gas at all. I told them it had no gas and asked them to bring me a Weissbier instead. They brought the Weissbier, but both beers were on the bill at the end. So then an argument ensued and I don't go back there anymore. A beer probably costs them 50c, probably less from a keg with a gas system that doesn't work. I think that half the problem here is that people would expect to be charged for a shitty beer, and don't think twice about coming back when they have had bad service.

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Regarding returning items at Aldi: I bought some groceries a few weeks ago including some fresh mushrooms. Next day for lunch I wanted to use the mushrooms but over night they had grown an astonishing amount of fuzzy mold. I went back to Aldi (it's right down the street) and asked them to exchange the fuzzy mushrooms for some fresh ones. No problem.

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The chashier girls at the Rewe market i go to also greet me by my name.

At least when i pay with Visa or EC card, lol. But seriously they do.

And they always wish me a nice day.

 

They're also good looking... especially Ms. Correia... LOL

 

I always chat with my Kiosk or Büdchen "Operator" as well.

Büdchen guys are always nice to chat with.

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They brought the Weissbier, but both beers were on the bill at the end. So then an argument ensued and I don't go back there anymore.

Wow... now that's bad... I would have not paid for the beer when paying the tab... :angry:

 

There are islands of good service (though it's sad that it makes your week/month when you get a customer service experience that equals the norm back home)...

 

My favorite American BBQ/Ribs place in Furth has American style ribs and the service is super friendly... they have all-you-can eat ribs for 12 Eur and they are really generous with the first plate and bringing more if you want (though the second plate is a *very* bad ide) and of course we let them know we come not just for the great deal, but because they're so great... and leave a US style 20% tip - they deserve it.

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Looking for good customer service in Germany is like shopping for high heels in a bakery - a slim possibility, but an unlikely find. However, if you go somewhere where the assistants or owners are not actually German, or the clientele and staff are much more international, then the likelihood becomes far more realistic.

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