Unnecessary customer pain: A lesson at the grocery store.

Image result for self checkoutI was in the grocery store recently taking advantage of the speed and efficiency of the self-checkout area when the person next to me had a problem. The little light on that pole beside the computerized scanner-cum-cash register began flashing so along came an employee to help.

Now the pain started. I watched as the employee swiped their access card only to be alerted that the purchase was over the allowed amount for a “worker bee” pay grade so a manager would be required. Now a waiting game ensued while a manager was located and then had to make their way from what must have been another county.

Here’s where it gets even more ridiculous. When the manager arrived, they swiped their super-duper access card which allowed the needed price change to sale pricing. What I found ridiculous was how the manager did not so much as give this a passing thought which led me to wonder why a “worker bee” was deemed unable or not trustworthy enough to do the same thing. Of course, this is not even taking into account how excruciating this song and dance was and all at the expense of the customer’s time and comfort.

So what’s the point you’re probably asking? Well, why do so many businesses make simple things difficult for both employees and customers by establishing policies and procedures that are unnecessarily complicated and dismissive of the pain that will ensue? In my example, was there a time when an employee was duped by a customer and changed a price to a sale price that a customer lied about? Did a “worker bee” input a wrong price at some point? Did the few shekels either one of these things may have cost warrant causing customer pain?  And as a side note, why is it managers are deemed to be magically endowed with anti-mistake capabilities? Anyway, what, I wonder, caused the policy that made something so simple, so painful for the customer?

Here’s the two-part lesson. 1) Don’t punish the masses of customers and employees for the mistakes or dishonesty of a small minority, and 2) ensure your policies and procedures don’t make things even more difficult and time consuming, particularly for your customers.

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One thought on “Unnecessary customer pain: A lesson at the grocery store.

  1. Seems like trust is the main issue here: trusting your customers and team members builds long-term value, and will almost assuredly overcome any potential short-term losses. Customers and team members who have confidence and trust in the business are invaluable.

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