Learning comes in mysterious ways

Well I learnt something new about poor customer service at the supermarket today.

After school supermarket dash. Not my usual but close to the school so convenient. Mini trolley brimming  over with more food than I can afford this close to pay day, but the convincing tone of my 4 year old and being too tired to say no to every request means mummy minulation is far too easy a thing.

So I’m tired and hounded, and I que to pay.

Shopping piled up, makes its way down the gladitorial travelator . Trainee at the till, so this process takes  a little longer. Being  training professional  I take a deep breath between  the request for sweet the are oh so convently stacked at child eyeline. I smile, and reassure  the trainee that  its ok.

Go to pay.

Till go down while my card is still in the card reader. The supervisor/ line manager comes over, they press some buttons talk amongst them selves, press some more buttons, make apologies, talk on walkie  takies  and so on.

After 10 minutes or so, with little grace, the line manager declared “systems gone down, this’ll (pointing at my well packed and organised shopping) have to go through again.”


Patience within a hares breath of bringing the building down into a pile of rubble, I address the line manager, maintaining a modicom of grace.

” Idon’t have the time to do this all twice. Can you give me written confirmation  that my card should not have been charged”
“its not been charged”
“It’s been in the machine, I’ve put my pin in, how do I know its not been charged, I just want written proof  if I need to contest this”
“I’m telling you its not been charged”

I work for local government. I know that without a paper trail, you can forget it.

I can see the line manager is struggling with the exchange.  And after a few moments she concedes  “right, I’ll  get the manager” I’m thinking “get the manager?” Where are your problem solving skills, communication skills? I’m not being unreasonable, shouting or being rude? It was the trainee and the other till person that suggested helping me to re pack the shopping while the team leader was a little way off being impolite about me, with the manger.

I could hear them.

Shopping re entered, packed (not to my standard but hay ho!) and some more flapping, the line manager returns, no manger and heaps of excuses why this was not her fault, although I had stated several times that I appreciate that computers fault, and this cannot be avoided.
Plus side was she had a £10 voucher in hand.

What a disaster  for everyone.
1. Problem solving skills, the line manager had none I could see. Had the organisation  failed to develop these.
2. Customer service skills. Making excessive statements and excuses that it is not your fault in a customer facing role makes a company look bad.
3. Flapping, personal bug bear. Personal resilience and dealing with stress and stressfull situations?
4. Communication skills? It’s not just about being friendly. As a company, your staff must be trained to deal with all manner of customer exchanges. Plus making comments about the customer within ear shot is a sign of a lack of confidence.
5. Where was the support from the manager?  At the other end of the store looking over then sending over a tenner? What, So they don’t  have to deal with me face to face? I’m the customer, and potentially a difficult one at that?

Managers who can not manage?  I asked for written proof, that was all. If they had arranged that, then there  wouldn’t  have been a problem. They delt with the situation so badly that I, the customer got my proof and walked out with £10 free shopping.

Where did it go wrong, bad training, bad recruitment or both.

Came at a good time for me though, as I was planning to tackle customer services and communications new with the redevelopment work we are currently doing!

Learning comes in mysterious ways!!


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