Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sharing and suprises

I’ve come to an understanding with Facebook: I kinda like it, and it kinda tolerates me. We get along now. I post some things there that never make it here, but other things become blog posts. It’s—interesting…

Most of the stuff I post only to Facebook includes things that would be of interest only to people who actually know me, more or less. I have, however, sometimes posted things to Facebook that became blog posts, and this is one of those times. Because I was surprised.

I posted the photo of a sign at my local countdown, and said of it:
I get that closing a grocery store to do a re-jig would lose them too much in profit, but based on what I saw & overheard today, they're losing customer good will. I'm curious what you all think: Do you think the possibility of losing customer support is a big risk? Or will customers just moan and keep coming back? Me, I can just go to New World, so it's no biggie, but some people get quite irate!
At another time, that might have been an angry rant of my own, but I’m a little more mellow these days, and I was more interested in the reactions of the customers in the store, and curious how my Facebook friends saw the situation.

As I wandered around the store, I saw several units with empty shelves (and noticed how dusty the shelves were behind the products we normally saw…). Small printed notices told customers where the missing products could be found, but I found the type on them too small to bother reading; from a distance, they looked more like notes to the people moving the stuff around.

I was able to find the stuff I wanted until I got to the toothpaste: Those shelves were behind a tape barrier, like those used to separate lines of people at a bank or whatever. This was because they were emptying some shelves about a metre or so further along. So, I walked around the barrier, got my toothpaste and left. None of the workers said a word to me or, truth be known, took any notice.

At the checkout I saw and heard a middle aged, middle class lady complaining to the checkout operator about it. I heard her say, “it’s so annoying!” and asking the operator, “so, have you been getting a lot of complaints?” The operator, whose English skills were sorely lacking, said something non-committal to the lady, but I wasn’t close enough to hear if she was being vague or if she didn’t understand what the lady was saying. It seemed to me that the operator just didn't want to engage—and why should she? She has nothing to do with the inconvenience.

When I shared the photo and my comment on Facebook, I quite frankly didn’t expect anyone to comment. For me, the things that are most likely to get a “Like” or a comment are things about me personally, Nigel, the two of us, or about our furbabies. When I share links to things that I find interesting, sometimes they seem to get no notice whatsoever (like links to some blog posts). So, I tend to share more real-life stuff about me and my family than I do things in the world.

Well, apparently this Facebook post hit a nerve—well, several nerves. People talked about Countdown’s bad business practices, about how New World wasn’t any better, or how they were all bad. Mostly, it was quite civil and all that, but it did veer pretty sharply from my original question. I hadn’t seen that coming.

One friend mentioned that when their local New World was done up, they had maps and posted a lot of signage. This is when it hit me that the Countdown had no actual signage, just those small notes with too-small type. I realised that if they’d put up better signs, customers wouldn’t have been nearly as grumpy.

I can easily stay away until the revamp is done—there are three other Countdowns nearby, in addition to the New World I now go to most of the time. And this particular Countdown could use a bit of a tart up—I don’t think they’ve had a big one for many years. I just hope they clean the shelves while they’re at it.

And the consensus was that customers will return. I’m sure I will, too.

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