Sainsbury’s in Swansea won this week’s service award with a display of consistently good customer service. Our shopper said there was a “lovely atmosphere” in-store and that staff had gone out of their way to offer help. One looked for the pains au chocolat with her and the checkout assistant was quick and friendly, but didn’t offer to help our shopper pack her bags.

Morrisons in Glastonbury provided very mixed customer service. One member of staff took our shopper around the bakery department and even offered to bake some pains au chocolat when they were out-of-stock. This care was not matched by the checkout assistant who failed to greet our shopper, say thank you, or smile.

Our shopper said the freshly painted decor and new lighting in the refi tted Tesco Extra, Ipswich, improved the sense of space but made the store feel a bit sterile.

Some signage was misleading and staff, who were still learning the new layout, were unsure of the location of certain items. One assistant cheerfully led our shopper around the store using his new layout guide. Another, sporting an ‘I’m here to help’ T-shirt, suggested that our shopper should visit the
customer service desk when she asked about the availability of Tilda rice.

Staff at Waitrose, Twickenham, were very polite and helpful but the rest of the shopping experience let the store down. Long queues meant shoppers had to ask people to move to get around the end of the aisles and there were a lot of restocking cages in the aisles, making it diffi cult to fi nd some products.
Our shopper was, however, impressed with how clean and dry the store was, considering how busy it was and how wet outside.

Despite having nine of its 10 tills open, Asda in Hemel Hempstead had the longest queues, leaving our shopper waiting for 12 minutes to pay. The checkout assistant offered to help with the packing but rushed through the scanning and failed to handle products with care.

Store of the week: Sainsbury's Swansea

What’s the best thing about your job? Seeing people move through the ranks from colleagues to team leaders and store managers. I like developing people and believe there’s a family spirit with Sainsbury’s. Once you’ve joined, unless you go into another career like the students who work with us
part-time, you normally stay with us.

How long has the branch been open? We were 25 years old in August but waited to celebrate until October when fewer people were away on holiday. We had a big arch of balloons at the entrance and facepainting, and more than 100 of us are off for a meal this weekend.

What’s changed in-store since then? It was 26,000 sq ft when it opened, and was extended in 1998. We now have a fantastic café overlooking Swansea Marina.

How long have you worked for Sainsbury’s? I’ve worked for Sainsbury’s for 24 years and it’s going from strength to strength. I was at this store 14 years ago as a deputy store manager and when I came back there were at least 30 people I already knew. Those people have been here since the store
opened in August 1985. There’s a real engagement of colleagues.

How has the new Taste the Difference range gone down so far? Sales from the last couple of weeks have been going really well and I must say I think the branding and advertising look fresh and inviting. We’re finding that where the range would be bought by the older generation in the past, a lot of the younger generation are now picking them up to try them.

What makes great customer service? It’s not only about making eye contact, talking and having a great interaction with the customer – it’s having awareness. Customers in general won’t come to you with a problem, they’ll look around and probably wait for a few minutes to see if you’ve seen them. Having colleagues who can realise a customer needs help without the customer saying so is where a great customer experience starts.

What would you change about the store? The GM and the clothing layout. It was relaid about four years ago but Sainsbury’s has moved on so much with GM ranges and the way they’re merchandised. That’s where I’d put the money if we had the investment.

How are you involved with the local community? We sponsored the Swansea Fun Run last month and provided them with £2,000 of water. It raised awareness of Sainsbury’s, and running links with our healthy lifestyle values. 

Steve Bourne, manager of Sainsbury’s, Swansea, was talking to Elinor Zuke