Service Spotlight: Interview with Retail Expert Rita Zekas

Having worked in retail and as a bartender I know all about the importance of giving great service.  Whether I was serving drinks or selling clothing I knew that if I worked hard to make my customers happy, by way of a positive attitude and a willingness to go the extra mile, I would benefit by selling more and feeling good.  Since moving on from those jobs I have become a sucker for excellent service.  I get all giddy when I get it and fill out comment cards, tell their manager, tweet, instagram and even blog about it. Nothing beats having a great customer experience when you’re spending your hard earned dollars.


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I recently interviewed Retail Expert extraordinaire; Rita Zekas and she shared some really great insight on great service; how to get it, and why to give it.

Check out what Rita had to say below:



Being a retail columnist you must be an expert in spotting great service, how do you define it?


Great service is when someone goes over and above.  Acknowledging the customer, knowing boundaries but also going the extra mile to help.  I once was in a store and I liked a jacket but they didn’t have my size.  The sales person got me to try on a similar style while calling a few of their other stores to find the one I wanted.  When she found it she offered to have it shipped directly to me.  She made it easy for me


I was recently doing a tour of a mall for a story and didn’t realize how long the tour would be.  I wore the wrong shoes and after 45 minutes my feet were killing me.  I plopped down at a shoe store and a sales person came up to me and asked me if I was ok.  I told him my feet were killing me and I had blisters so he brought me over a band-aid, some thin socks and a bottle of water – all without me asking.  I was so moved by his kindness I ended up buying a pair of shoes.  That’s great service.


Living in this digital world we often hear or read stories about bad service.  How can we shift the focus onto celebrating excellent service? 


Vocalize great service!  Tweet it, share it.  When you have a good experience share it and it will spread.



Any tips on how to be the kind of customer that gets great service?


Engage.  Don’t be overtly demanding.  If you have a problem, take it to the proper person like a manager.  Know what you’re looking for and ask for help.  Be open.


Do you think that good service is more important to Canadians?


Canadians settle for mediocre service.  In the US it’s much better – even in Italy.  In the South they talk your ear off, get to know you, offer you an iced tea (and sometimes even a glass of champagne). Canadians need to demand better service; you talk with your dollar.


And finally, where can I find the best service in Toronto?


Generally in independent stores.  I love their energy.  There are some cute stores on the East end of town that have the most beautiful things at a good range of prices.  I’ve had such great experiences shopping independent and local, getting to know the owners and staff.  They always go over and above to help me and I really appreciate that.


Thanks so much for your insight Rita!


Just like Rita, American Express is a huge believer in great service. Their goal is to make Cardmembers feel like more than customers.   From friendly 24hr a day 7 days a week personalized concierge service to access to numerous VIP experiences, membership has some serious rewards.  I’m still reeling over the upgrade to the Marilyn Monroe Bungalow that I got on a recent trip to LA.  Having a platinum card in my wallet makes travel a way more luxurious experience


Do you have a great customer service story you’d like to share?  Let us know in a comment!






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