Thursday, October 04, 2007

Customer Service

A few years ago, I remember hearing about self-service grocery store check out lines. It was in an article in Money Magazine, I think, and the experts were saying that it would take care of some of the people purchasing ten items or less – but that's about it. And the companies were saying something about how they were employing technology to make it harder for shoplifters.

I was shopping yesterday, and it seemed that several of us were using the check-out area with a basketful of groceries. Well, small basketfuls.

And it occurred to me: the industry probably did not think it would catch on for larger shopping trips because of the wonderful customer service grocery stores provide. For me, I would like my eggs to arrive home in one piece – well, 12 pieces. But you get the idea.

I remember as a little girl going shopping with Dad. He had a way with the cashiers, always complimenting them, always chatting about this or that. And in return, they gave him wonderful customer service. Either that, or grocery store checkers were different. I don't know if that was the case – because I paid more attention to Saturday morning cartoons than to wondering about grown-ups.

I enjoy scanning my own groceries. Putting in the codes for plums, grapes, and cantaloupes. And the grocery store has a non-paid employee for five minutes or so. A win-win situation for both of us.

You know, customers are doing some things that employees used to do – not just scanning groceries. An early shift from employee to customer was in pumping our own gas. And, over the past several years, the IRS has us entering our own information into computers for them (electronic filing).

Me, I am not helping the IRS out by electronically filing. I figure that's what part of my tax dollars are for. But I will help out my grocery by scanning groceries. I even bag all of the cold items together and tip myself well.


Ian Lidster said...

Just don't try pumping your own gas in Oregon. They get right hostile if you do. Don't know why, since it's common almost everywhere else.
Otherwise, I like the human contact, especially with female checkout clerks. Like your dad, I like chatting with them and sometimes they'll go the extra mile.

Anonymous Boxer said...

I oddly enjoy scanning my own stuff too. Plus, it gets me through the HELL of Home Depot much faster. If I want human contact I only need to renew my license.....

Leesa said...

ian: I like human contact. I just also like doing my own checking-out.

boxer: it is oddly enjoyable, is it?

Kat said...

This is going to make me sound like I'm totally unaware of my surroundings...but this post gave me flashbacks to the "way things were", customer service is a thing of the past. I like scanning my own groceries too.

RWA said...

I can remember going to the corner grocery store with my grandmother when I was little. Everyone knew her by name - the manager, the cashiers, the guy behind the meat counter.

That was customer service. As I got older, and she would let me go on my own, they always referred to me as "Miss Orelia's grandson." I thought I was pretty important that they would remember that.

I haven't ever had the nerve to try self-checkout. I always worry I'll forget to scan something, and they'll have me arrested for trying to steal.

Leesa said...

kat: yeah, I did not want to sound old fashioned.

rwa: yeah, we are moving to a "customer service" society, and true customer service in certain industries seems to be lacking.

Anonymous said...

I wish they would have restaurants where you cook your own food, then ring up your own bill at the register...not! hehe

I dont think scan-for-yourself is a good idea.

GW Mush

~Deb said...

No lie, I was with Amy at the grocery store the other day, and I said to her, I bet you anything you'll run into problems with that self-checkout. "Oh, no I won't, it's much faster." We had 5 items. Beer, chopped meat, bread, veggies and bulbs. I needed bulbs. Don't ask. Anyway, it took us 20 minutes because we were in a rut and the head checkout girl that overlooks all self-checkoutees <---is there such a thing, GOD help me----she had problems with it too. We ended up deleting our checkout and going to a real person. Wow, a human.

I hate the modern world.

kathi said...

I like ringing up my own, too. Just easier and no one forcing small talk on me.

I do, however, file electronically because I always get my refund within a matter of days instead of months.

Leesa said...

GW Mush: they actually have places where you cook your own food.

~deb: I sometimes have problems, and then abandon the self-checkout line. It blocks one lane, but it is their problem.

kathi: I always owe money.