National Health ScareAs most Australians would be aware we are in the midst of a major health scare with contaminated lettuce and related vegetable products being found to be the cause of a salmonella outbreak that has already affected over fifty people with the number doubling to fifty four by the next day.
With such a horrendous set of events in motion there has been an instantaneous removal of all effected products from supermarket shelves with a mass media market push for all customers to immediately return these products for a fully refund.
Item ExchangeNow against this backdrop it would be reasonable to expect that all staff are aware of the facts and managed to respond in a caring and professional manner but sadly not at Safeway.
On entering my regular store and trying to refund an opened pack of salad with sales docket in hand the sales person asked me in a condescending manner why I wanted to exchange it.
An unusual question given the circumstances of the last few days however I replied it was to do with the recall and again asked for her to exchange the item. With this she turned away and moments later re-challenged my desire to have the product refunded saying that the shelves had been cleared and this should be OK and again in a harsh and demeaning tone.
At this point I told her in a more assertive tone this is what I wanted and that was final. To this she finally refunded the item with an inaudible grunt and slammed the returned item on top of a closed bin as though to punctuate the end of our discussion in a manner that she had conducted herself throughout its entirity.
Cheerfully RefundedNow the irony of this story is that Safeway have an exchange policy for all goods that the customer is unhappy with regardless of the cause as long as you provide the proof of purchase which of course is very reasonable in my opinion. So for any product the exchange should be conducted in a friendly and professional manner but for issues that involve national health scares, people being hospitalised and generally gaining global attention you would think there would be even a heightened sense of care and sensibility.
In fact the internal memo sent to each store actually directs staff to 'cheerfully refund all items' without hesitation. Well this is certainly an interesting variation from the traditional approach to customer service with a smile. I will not mention the persons name her because she'd be embarrassed by her uncaring and petulant behaviour nor will I mention which store it was because the rationale in telling this story is not to malign and certainly not to injure but rather to discuss what can happen to any organisation if they allow poor behaviours to creep in gradually over time.
TrendA friend of mine is a former policeman with many years of experience who shared with me once a valuable insight that when criminals get caught doing what they do, it is rarely if ever the first time they have done it but rather the first time they have been caught doing it. This truism is validated by the fact that one in twenty six dissatisfied customers complain and the others say nothing and simply don't return.
So today someone complained and perhaps twenty five before me didn't. If this is the case it may mean lost sales for the store and over time lost employment for some. A very high price to pay for a person whose childish attitude and lack of emotional intelligence rules her behviours.
A word to the wise. The customer is always right and that's especially true when they are right.
So until next time, good luck and good marketing.