Did You Find Everything You Were Looking For?

Is there such a thing as too much customer service? The more I ponder this question, the more I believe this to be true. Sometimes organizations may go “over the top” to please the customer, but in doing so, they create the opposite effect. Here’s an example.

I usually shop for groceries at Thriftys because the store is clean, selection is good, it’s in my neighbourhood, and it’s not an overwhelming big-box-store. In the “old days” before Thriftys was purchased by Sobey’s, getting through the check-out line was no hassle and usually pleasant. What I’ve noticed since Sobey’s took over, though, is that cashiers are now asking more questions and it’s always the same questions. And when that first question comes out, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” I cannot but picture a robot. It’s always the same opener. On top of that, there are what I consider to be really stupid questions. Why does the cashier ask me how I want my groceries packed and whether they should pack the bulky items and whether a full grocery bag is too heavy? Isn’t that their job to know how to pack groceries and to know that bulky items that don’t fit in bags don’t go in bags and if they’re asking me if the grocery bag is too heavy, it’s obviously too heavy? And, yes, I do want the meat wrapped in plastic and the cleaning supplies should be packed separate from food. Why would they ask me if it’s okay to not do this?

While I understand that Sobeys wants to ensure that their customers are ‘greeted’ and ‘treated’ with respect at check-out, too much really is too much. The cashier’s brief robotic conversation with me doesn’t deter from the cashier’s efficiency, but it does nothing to make me feel welcome or special. In some sense, I am left feeling annoyed that I have to answer the same questions every time I go through one of the tills.

Sobey’s, if you’re reading this, listen up: To improve customer service, let your cashiers determine whether conversation is necessary and what the conversation should be. I don’t need to hear the same mundane robotic quizzing each time I go through one of your tills. Drop the drill. Your customers will thank you for it. And don’t forget that the customer is always right – just remind yourself how you would like to be treated when you go through one of your own tills. Did you find everything you were looking for? Or would another line of questioning (if one is needed at all) be more natural?

Sometimes “less” really is “more” when it comes to customer relationships. Talk less, do more, and we all win.