Thursday, 3 January 2008

Service with a smile.

I had an interesting conversation with a ‘checkout chick’ at our local supermarket today. I'll call her Jane. She’s one of a few checkout 'girls' I like to go through because she’s always pleasant and cheery and treats me like an old friend rather than just yet another customer.

Jane was her usual cheery self today, despite the fact that we’re on power rations and so the shopping centre had everything turned down – lights, music (none, yay!) and air-conditioning. It was still cooler than the 45C outside, but can’t have been the most ideal conditions for standing checking through groceries.

While she was putting my items through, the ‘boss’ lady gave her a form entitled ‘Code of Practice’ and told her to read and sign it before she went home. I jokingly suggested that it would say she must never smile at the customers and that she would lose her job if she opened her mouth for anything other than giving the total price.

“Oh I’m always getting in trouble for talking,” she said. “They reckon I’m scanning too slow when I’m talking to customers, but when I started this job, they told me my priority was to keep the customers happy and that’s what I think I’m doing.”

I assured her that if they ever sacked her for talking too much, I’d complain to the manager and threaten to go elsewhere to shop…which I would. To me it doesn’t matter if my groceries are put through in 2 minutes or 2 and a half, I want to feel like I’ve made contact with the person on the other side of the checkout. She has never made a mistake and she packs things logically as she goes.

By coincidence, when I got home I went onto a chat site that I like to visit occasionally. Someone had posted a video about a young Down’s Syndrome boy who packed bags in a supermarket. When he was told at a work conference that he should do something to make each customer feel special, he found his own lovely way of doing it. It’s probably one of those urban myths designed to get us all teary, but it just seemed so strange that I found it just after my conversation with the girl on the checkout.

To all the 'Janes' out there in the retail world - thank you. I hate grocery shopping, but your smiles make it that much less irksome.


Lucan said...

It's sad. Speed and "efficiency" are now the benchmarks of good service, where once it was making the customer feel king or queen (yes, exaggerated, but true).

And I like the new lay out as much as the old. But the new drawing is very nice!


Catherine J Gardner / Phoenix Rendell said...

Yeah, I hate it when they make you feel like a nuisance for buying something... Some of our local shops greet you with a grunt, and one (a bakery which shut down a few weeks ago) the staff would ignore you and text on their mobiles or make themselves cups of tea...