A regular Sainsbury’s customer complained to us that he had been ignored at the deli counter. Three members of staff chatted amongst themselves, none of them willing to serve the sole customer at their counter. He asked “Anybody bothering to serve?” and got the response from one employee “Not if you talk to me like that?”
Many of us will have seen the signs across a broad range of businesses demanding that the customer respect their employees. Without question utellus supports this position. However as with all demands for respect, there also comes responsibility. Members of staff have a responsibility to do their job to the best of their ability, and must be prepared to accept criticism when they fall below the standards that the typical consumer requires. Likewise customers have the right to be treated with respect, not contempt.
We asked Sainsbury’s if they would like to comment and they told us: “We expect our colleagues to serve customers politely and efficiently at all times. We welcome feedback from our customers and would encourage them in the future to report bad service (and indeed very good service) to a member of the store's management team.”
Hiding behind rights, and ignoring responsibilities will have only one outcome, particularly in a recession. All customer facing businesses need to face up to the challenges ahead, and ensure that their staff are best prepared to deal with them.