Lipstick and civil discord at the grocery store

ImageA long day, a tough day, a disappointing day and a tiring day.  A to-do list that jeers at me at the end of said long and tough and disappointing day and I do what mothers (and others) have done for decades…I determine I will get just one damn thing off the to-do list before I go home. 

So brilliantly, although it’s been “a day” and I’m tired and hungry, I head to the local grocery store- well, not actually local, it’s part of a chain…a helpful chain that always asks me if I found everything I want (when I’ve finished my shopping and am in the check out) and if I want help out (with a container of yogurt and a bag of bananas) and had some while ago apparently told staff in produce to chat with customers who were prodding the avocados and poking the mangos in an effort to increase customer loyalty.  This made many customers including me somewhat uneasy and confused.  Happily the negative feedback caused   “management” to rescind the direction.  

I feel for the management (so to speak).  I’m sure they had heard the buzz words:  customer service, customer relations, relationship building, loyalty. Perhaps some marketing types had laid on the additional data about segmentation, differentiation, USP and heck, what with increased competition someone somewhere had decided that building a friendly, local grocery shop environment (with the faux wood market style flooring in the produce department, and the end of aisle impulse purchase displays) would help build market share, increase retention, and create loyalty.  Heck.  It all made sense…in the marketing plan.  Create a place where everyone knows your name and your share of market worries are over; your share of mind soars…I guess no one told them that was an old marketing plan for a neighbourhood pub…and even then, that pub went out of business. 

I am sympathetic to the grocery store staff. They’ve been instructed to chat with the customer.  So, they are chatting.  Am I the only one who’s taking offense? 

There’s the woman who inspects my grocery items and comments on them.  I’ve never tried this?  What’s it like?  Oh, you’re choosing the free-range eggs.  Are they really different?  Fish?  So how do you cook it? 

I admit I sometimes scan the check outs so I can avoid her.  Sometimes I go to another store.  Yes.  Yes, it’s true.  I will admit she’s not as bad as the man who spouts his world views to the customers.  I avoid him at all costs because I don’t want to say something I will regret.  A while ago I stood in line — customer six I believe- while he told the world his opinion about public servants:  lazy, overpaid, leave in the middle of the afternoon and call it a day, they and don’t care about their work.  I had just left my public servant office   It was 7:00 pm. 

Here are my dreadful secrets -secrets no longer:  I don’t go to the grocery store to chat with the staff; I go to buy groceries.  I don’t go to the grocery store to have a good time:  grocery shopping is a chore.  Sigh.  There.  I feel better having said it out loud.

So at the end of my day yesterday, I found myself at the check out talking to a young man I had never seen before in my life.  I’d purchased my groceries and was coding in my debit card. 

“You look tired,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“You look tired.”

“You’re telling me I look bad?”

“Well, not so bad. Just put on some lipstick and you’ll look better.”

Now that’s customer service.

Image

 

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