One assistant showed our shopper to the avocados with a big smile while another left her home shopping trolley to take him to the Birds Eye curry. The only downside was the Tilda rice being out of stock.
Three assistants in Asda, Leyton Mills, were very helpful when asked for help to locate products, bringing our shopper to the shelf and asking if she needed any more help. However the store was let down by the checkout assistant who, in contradiction with Asda policy, refused to give our shopper free carrier bags.
One of the purchased bags for life ripped when the cashier was putting in the pork chops, so our shopper asked for another one, and was told she had to pay for it.
Morrisons in Brighton offered mixed service. A floor assistant made conversation as she showed our shopper to the product she asked for, but the checkout assistant was talking to the till assistant next to her and so failed to say hello or goodbye.
It was difficult to find staff to ask for help at Sainsbury's, although they were very helpful when eventually tracked down, and not enough tills were open to cope with the afternoon queues.
Waitrose in Rickmansworth was clean and spacious, but one of the two freezer aisles was left empty by a technical problem, resulting in out-of-stock ice cream.
Winner: Khosrow Sofla, store manager, Tesco Bburnage
How do you measure great customer service? I have a saying that it's not just about smiling at the customer, it's getting the customer to smile back at us. I think the latter is true of really good service. That's when we know we're actually exceeding the customer's expectation. We try to liaise on that simple message in a powerful way so it touches every member of staff. Without the support and dedication of our staff we would not be as successful as we are.
What new ranges have you recently introduced? Because of the large number of Asians and Muslims we serve, we went for a large range of Ramadan products and they're selling very well, with a lot of positive comments from customers. We have a lot of ingredients like large bags of rice, large containers of cooking oil and chapati flour. One popular product is dates, used to break the fasting.
How has the business changed during your time there? I've worked for Tesco for 26 years. When I joined the business wasn't as complex, and the customers' expectations weren't as high as they are now. We were more of a community-type store but now we're a one-stop shop with customers coming from 15 miles away. I absolutely love it the challenges are different every single day and it's very rewarding.
What would you change about your store? Our non-food space is big but we could do with bigger. Non-food is a growing business and in this store in particular it seems to be a choice destination for Tesco's non-food range.
How do you learn from your customers? We do a reality shop with customers where we invite them to walk around with a manager and find out what they want and what they see as issues. I particularly enjoy that part of the job, because you always learn from customers when you talk to them.
What have you changed from a customer reality shop? We were stacking some products on the top shelf too high that was pointed out to us and we reduced the level of the top shelf lower. An average height person would have no problem but customers come in all different heights.
Grocer 33: Asda back on top after two-week absence (28 August 2010)