I am going to go back to what I do best. Being a grumpy old sod. Today I went into a large, well known supermarket which, for want of a better name and because it was, we will call Tesco. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to pick only on Tesco, all the big chains seem to be guilty of the same thing: the deterioration of customer service.
I walked through the store picking the items that I needed, mainly alcohol if the truth needs to be known, and queued at the checkout. Now this is where it all starts to go wrong. Actually, thinking about it, it starts to go wrong as you walk across the carpark but that is another story. The lady sitting at the checkout grabs the items I have placed on the conveyor belt and scans them as quick as she can, flinging them down towards me at double quick time. She is reasonably polite as she asks for the payment, and my loyalty card, but then I have to get my own receipt. Now what is wrong with that I hear you say. Nothing really, apart from the fact that it is designed to do away with any human interaction in the shopping experience. The receipt is vomited from a machine that is just out of reach of the checkout girl, so she either stretches for it or lets the customer get it. I don’t want this.
I am a little old fashioned about all this shopping business. Actually I am a little old fashioned about everything. But what I like is to go to a shop where the staff will refer to me as sir, not mate. I have nothing against the term ‘mate’, not when used in the context of friends, but not by some teenage, spotty, tattooed youth with bum fluff on his chin which he likes to think of as a beard. I will, generally, never be a ‘mate’ of this person. I want eye contact, I want ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and I want ‘sir’. And I want my receipt handed to me with a smile. If I am expected to treat the staff of these shops with respect I want it back.
There are certain stores that have a better customer service than others, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, while the likes of Lidl and Aldi are a little more lacking than Tesco or Sainsburys. Can you see the pattern here? The more high end the shop, the better the customer service. In my local Asda I have walked past staff whinging to each other about other staff, their management, conditions, working hours, who they were sleeping with last night, and the language is not always the best. As the public face of the company they should be smart, clean, lacking in piercings and visible tattoos and polite. They should treat the customer as king. And likewise the customer should treat the staff as human beings.
There is a small Indian restaurant near where I live. I have used it for years and consider the owner a friend. But every time I go in I am referred to as sir. I am treated well by the staff, and so is everyone else who walks through the door. Nothing is too much trouble as they know that the customer is what keeps them in employment. Maybe the big stores should pay Jewels Restaurant a visit and be reminded of what they have forgotten. They want as many people through the door as possible. The checkout girl is paid as little as possible and works as long as they can get her to work for. Every company wants its pound of flesh. Gone are the days of the corner shop where you can have a chat with the jolly shopkeeper. I mourn the loss of that day.