A quote worth noting: "The surest way to provide poor service is to walk every client through the same rote, impersonal routine, never varying, no matter who the individual client is or what he really needs." - Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore, The Experience Economy
While in the supermarket to pick up a few necessities recently, my sense of smell stopped me at the aisle offering bulk, "fresh ground" and packaged coffee to go.
Following a quick review of the pricing by brand, I made a decision to go "premium" - but not "uber-premium"...in other words, I would grind my own "special" beans...a fairly pricey "special house brand"...though not in the league with Peets or Starbucks. I poured what I believed to be somewhere between 3/4 to 1 pound of beans into the grinder, ground, filled & clipped the pouch...and headed for the checkout stand.
As I approached the checkout, I was greeted by 2 females--my wife Nancy (with her own armload of purchases) and Jimmila, our cashier. As we placed our bounty on the moving mat, the cashier began dutifully scanning each item. Unable to engage either female in a conversation, I began watching curiously to see how much I had "saved" on my coffee purchase by eschewing the aforementioned luxury brands.
Suffice it to say that I was shocked to see the coffee "ring up" at over $13.00! Recovering from my temporary state of shock...I asked Jimmila to recheck the coffee price--it couldn't be right. Her answer was to glare at me and say "that's what it scanned"...to which I responded, "would you please re-scan it--that can't be right." She began to argue the point further, but to "humor" me, ran the coffee over the scale/scanner...and this time brought up a price of $7.80--a difference of more than $5.00.
As Jimmila called a manager to our station to correct our total bill, I thanked her for re-scanning the coffee. I also asked her if she could see why I asked her to do it. My response from the show of appreciation and the question was silence and a "blank" look. Unsatisfied with her "answer", I pursued the point a bit further - asking if saving the $5.00 would be "worth the effort" if she were the customer. Her answer: "it wouldn't be something that would matter to me...'cause I don't drink coffee." In other words...she couldn't care less. I had inconvenienced her and she didn't appreciate it one bit.
"I don't drink coffee" is not the type of closing statement that leaves customers with a good feeling about the experience with your company, Jimmila. IF I ever shop your store again, I will go through another line and see if I can find a "coffee drinker"...or I'll even settle for an empathetic human being offering a courteous response to my questions.
To quote Mssrs. Pine and Gilmore once again: "The easiest way to turn a service into an experience is to provide poor service, thus creating a memorable encounter of the most unpleasant kind."