Service, Sainsburys and the Independents

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

As an independent business, at PenFountain.com, it never ceases to amaze how larger companies can get away with poor customer service bordering on arrogance.  In the Cranleigh Sainsburys they have installed a bank of self-service tills.  This is not a superstore but it is the largest food store in the village and surrounding countryside.  Last night we went to buy a weekly shop only to find that out of about 10 checkouts only 2 were manned with a floating supervisor to over-see the regular problems on self-service.   The queues were building and there were no staff available to ease the pressure.  One member of staff was most apologetic but identified that having the self-service tills, the company were reducing the employees’ hours and therefore, at peak times, the queues were likely to become more common.

We wish we had the opportunity to run our business this way.  It’s not that we would, but it would be nice to have that amount of business.  We enjoy offering our customers a special experience when buying their fountain pens.

What was also interesting was that this experience came on a day that the new Daybreak TV programme had featured the dominance of the store chains and homogeneity creeping into the high street.  The town featured was Richmond upon Thames and they showed images of shoppers laden with bags from many of the majors.  Great shame they couldn’t have followed it up with images of the independents and shown how their personal service and specialisation was so different, giving them their 5 minutes of fame.

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