Friday, 24 January 2014

Customer Service – Queues

Levels of customer service can vary greatly, not just between different store chains and shops, but also between individual branches, and indeed, individual shop assistants.

I’ve previously chronicled some of the good and bad examples of customer service that I’ve received and now have a couple of new stories to relate.

Hands up who's fed up of queues?
On the whole, I’ve always received a good standard of customer service at my local Tesco stores. However a recent shopping trip to one branch left me feeling rather annoyed. I’d popped in for a few necessary items and joined a checkout queue with only one other customer in front of me. I should have whizzed through the checkout easily, however this was not to be. There was a problem with an item that the customer ahead of me was purchasing – some fault with the bar code. The item in question was only worth a couple of pounds and the easiest solution was for the cashier to total up the few other items of shopping and refer the problem to customer services.

However, she chose to send a colleague to track down a better bar code, who proceeded to do so in the manner of someone taking a Sunday afternoon stroll. Ten minutes later the assistant finally returned with the new code and finally the queue got to move!

At no point during all of this did either the cashier, or her colleague, attempt to apologise to those of us waiting in the queue. When it was my turn to be served I was just met with the customary, “Thank you for waiting”, said without any feeling. I did not reply, “That’s OK”, because it wasn’t.

I am quite prepared to wait in a queue if I 1) feel there is a valid, unavoidable reason for this and 2) receive an apology for the delay. As neither of these points applied to this situation I was far from happy and will be contacting the store manager.

On the flipside, my local Sainsburys, who I’ve previously had to take to task over a 20-minute hold-up with a customer service query, appear to have upped their game. How refreshing it has been to arrive at the checkouts with a full trolley of shopping and be met by a smiling-faced individual who proceeds to take me to the checkout with the shortest queue. It’s these little personal touches that make a difference to a shopping trip.

The same branch of Sainsburys sent a letter to me just ahead of Christmas, thanking me for my custom and enclosing a gift voucher. OK, they probably did that to lots of customers, but once again it made me feel appreciated.

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