Sainsbury’s in Chichester was suffering an air conditioning malfunction when our shopper visited. She reported the store felt bitterly cold and her fingers turned white. But when asked for help the assistant smiled and was polite as he showed her to the product she asked for. And the checkout assistant may have been shivery, but she did say hello and thank you, and offered to help pack.
Asda in Bridgwater offered similarly excellent assistance on the shop floor with staff taking our shopper to the quiche and asking if she needed any more help. But the four-minute queue to pay lessened the overall experience. Our shopper also reported half a gondola end dedicated to promoting Brue Chapel mature cheddar, which seemed excessive for one line.
At the Wilmslow Waitrose store, a helpful assistant named Billy showed our shopper to the fish pie and suggested alternative products before asking if he could help with anything else. The store was well merchandised but the salad looked a bit limp and past its best.
Our shopper was stung by a parking fine at Morrisons in High Wycombe for staying for longer than two hours while shopping and visiting the store café. Morrisons have asked Euro Car Parks to refund her the £70, which she had to pay within seven days, but told her this would take up to five weeks. Inside the store, six tills were closed despite the eightminute queue, and no help to pack was offered. Staff were helpful though, checking the stock room for out-of-stock peas and vodka
Store of the week - Tesco, South Queensferry
What’s new in store? We put in 168 new premium products for the affluent customers we have here. The products have sold really well. It’s not just Tesco Finest but other products those customers buy like guinea pig food and birdseed. We also increased the range of ingredients for cooking from scratch.
When did you join Tesco? I started when I was 15. It was 1982 and I earned 99p an hour working parttime at night when I was at school. I joined full-time when I left school and got on the trainee management scheme. I became a store manager when I was 26.
So what’s changed since 1982? The training has got much better, so we’ve got team leaders who can take care of a lot of the day-to-day duties and give the line manager time to stand back and observe the department rather than fight fires. Clubcard has been huge for us too. The loyalty it generates is staggering.
What sets your store apart from rivals? You’ve got to be on your toes and make sure your store is of the best standard so customers come to you. We’ve got a fantastic bakery department and we also focus on our counters and the café, which is the first thing customers see when they come into the store. The store is clean and tidy and the staff are well trained. The wine staff also know their products and can make recommendations.
What are you doing for Halloween this year? We have more in store than last year because we’ve increased the space we give for events to maximise sales. This store overtraded last year so we have decided to increase our offer.
What makes good customer service? It’s about tapping into people’s natural personalities and encouraging them to be themselves, together with some good guidelines on what they should be doing. The checkout makes the biggest difference. The last thing you want is for someone to scan £150 of shopping and not breathe a word while doing it. You want some sort of conversation going on, someone to acknowledge you, say hello and thank you.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? Always giving the customer what they want because that’s always changing. So many things can cause a spike in your trade. We have nearly 300 schoolchildren come in between 1pm and 2pm and we have to make sure we’ve got the products they want. Then when they go on holiday you don’t have the trade.
Murray Leslie, store manager, Tesco South Queensferry, was talking to Elinor Zuke