Sunday, 5 June 2011

Scoop's shopping trip to Sainsbury's

Face to face customer service is a little off-piste for Tele Scoop and the supermarket has rarely been fertile ground for service excellence but today's trip to Sainsbury's (St Clare's in West London) was to be a pleasant exception.

Scoop had completed his shopping and was waiting at the checkout in a haze of boredom when his attention was drawn to an exchange between a female shopper (with a toddler in tow) and 2 members of staff.

As the shopper was loading her groceries on to the checkout belt she called out to a couple of staff members who were chatting happily amongst themselves at the next (closed) till.

Now in Scoop's experience interrupting service staff in the middle of personal conversations can be a dangerous business - but happily not today!

The first member of staff was a middle aged man who seemed to exude natural sunshine.  His colleague was a younger lady who had the look of a supervisor about her.

The customer attempted to grab their attention as follows:

"Err excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt, can I ask a favour?  Do you know if the latest copy of New Magazine is in stock please?"

Scooped watched with interest to see how the staff might respond.  The male member of staff sprang into action:

"I can do better than that Madam, I can go and get it for you."

Scoop was suitably impressed!

As he walked off his colleague smiled warmly at the customer and said:

"You asked the right person there, he puts out the magazines every morning."

Within a few moments the man returned cheerily with said magazine in his hand:

- "There you are madam, one copy of New Magazine."
Customer - "Thank you so much, that's very kind of you."
- "It was my pleasure."

Scoop was struck by the look of pride and satisfaction on the man's face as he walked back to his counter.  This was matched by an equally pleased expression on the face of the shopper.


This man is a shining example of how customer service can be.

He is unlikely be earning a fortune in this job yet he displays a genuine pride in his work.

His initial response shows his desire to go one step further in helping the customer.

His final response is even more impressive:

"It was my pleasure."
He did not have to say this and it's almost certainly not part of any prescribed service standards.  This was a spontaneous response to the customer's expression of gratitude.

There is something very special about this type of final response.  Uniquely it has an equally positive effect on both the customer and staff member and therefore cements a satisfying experience for both. 

This example encapsulates the positive sentiments which can be generated in customer service.  The member of staff clearly welcomed the opportunity to make life easier for the customer.  The customer (having originally been apologetic in her request) was in the end genuinely appreciative and was pleased she asked for help in the first place.  A sweet taste is left all round.

There is a difference between a mechanically correct customer exchange and a genuinely pleasant customer experience and our man at Sainsbury's demonstrated this to perfection.