Judging by a handful of my previous articles, I’m obsessed with two things: customer service and grocery stores. Which is funny, given my pawning off of makin’ groceries on my husband. In our household we divide chores evenly, and while I’m relegated to loading the dishwasher and being the primary dog walker, he’s the one keeping our pantry stocked and the litter box clean. A funny thing happened last week, however; somehow we both hit up two different grocers, and we both had exceptionally foul experiences.
I’m not one to trash talk businesses, but something is amiss at our locally owned grocery stores. My experience was pretty typical; I’m standing in the checkout line and six (I counted) cashiers and bag boys were conversing amongst each other, talking about things best left at a party. “We better stop talking about this or XYZ Manager is going to write us up!” exclaimed one high school-age worker. Of course, I was not once greeted, much less spoken to. As they continued their banter, I pretended like I was checking my e-mail on my phone. I’m not a prude, nor am I easy to offend, but I was horrified to think of the ramifications of such poor customer service. And while I was silently snickering at their crude jokes, I couldn’t help but think a slightly more sensitive customer would probably complain to management.
Just a few days earlier, my husband was borderline harassed by a cashier at a different chain grocery store on the same street. Innocent flirting is one thing. Suggestively stroking someones hand is another. Fortunately I’m not the jealous type, and it was hilarious to think of the double entendre of the phrase “check-out line” while he was relaying the scenario. But seriously, when is that cool? And why would someone think that is appropriate behavior in the workplace?
The saddest part is that these cashiers are tarnishing the reputation of these businesses. In any retail setting, your cash register is literally where you are making money. Cashiers are often the last point of contact that a customer has with your business. So no matter how much of your budget you spend on PR, pleasant overhead lighting, or eye catching signs, the last impression is the most important.
Taking the time to instill a sense of pride in the work place, customer service coaching, and providing feedback are all not only smart, but essential. In the meantime, I’ll shop elsewhere, until these grocery workers get their personal issues sorted out.
Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at slowsouthernstyle.com and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.