The worldwide recession appears to be stubbornly holding on and impacting so many people, Here in the United States the talk is all about job creation or lack of jobs in general. Companies that have reduced staff have been running lean for quite some time now. The results often are found in less than exemplary customer service.
I had a taste of that at Stop and Shop this past weekend. Walking in there on a Friday evening after 6PM the store was relatively empty. Having promised my daughter a lobster for dinner I had to pick up a couple of things as well as a couple of crustaceans. These days lobster is pretty inexpensive in the Northeastern U.S. with prices as low as $ 4 U.S/pound. Since a 1.25 lobster is a pretty decent size it hardly seemed like a luxury. At Stop & Shop the lobsters were actually $ 7.00/lb. At least that’s what the chalkboard read in the seafood area in the store.
However when I arrived in the seafood area there was nobody attending the area. And nobody was working anywhere nearby. I waited about five or ten minutes (seemed like 15), finally gave up and walked to the front of the store to ask if anyone could help me. I was first told nobody was working back there. Big news indeed. They offered to page someone which they did and I walked back to the seafood area. Another five minutes ensued but no sign of anyone.
I again walked to the front of the store and was again told that they would page someone. I pointed out that I had already seen that movie and did they want to sell me a lobster or not? They paged again and I again walked back to the seafood area. Finally I saw what appeared to be a manager type and I told him I had been waiting fifteen minutes to purchase a lobster. He again noted there was nobody back there. I am not making this up.
Pete, the manager offered to help me (ok maybe I was finally getting somewhere). After he scanned the area to be sure nobody was there but him he went behind the counter to the tank to (I hoped) fish out a couple of lobsters. But I could tell right away that this 6 foot 4 guy was not at all comfortable around the lobsters. So I offered to go back there myself to fish them out and put them in the bag. Looking incredibly relieved he quickly agreed and back I went. He stood pretty far away from me as I selected two of the 6 or 7 lobsters in the tank. I put them in the bags and then Pete did exactly the right thing. He told me he had no idea how to ring them up and for my trouble he was not going to charge me for the lobsters. I was both surprised and pleased.
The cash register attendant was a bit skeptical but when there wasn’t any tag on the bags he shrugged and checked me out.
So a big negative experience was turned into a positive experience and a story. Pete got it right and by extension Stop & Shop had a happy customer.
Good customer experiences come in many different forms.
How about you? Got any strange but true stories like that?