Tesco’s Ugly Customer Service


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English: Daventry: tennis courts and a Tesco t...

It came as a surprise, watching her walk between the grocery aisles, struggling with a basket of groceries. Four cans of beer, four litres of milk, a roasting joint of beef, plus assorted bread, cheese and vegetables, is a lot to get into a hand basket, let alone to carry around the store. Especially after an 8 hour flight, followed by a one hour flight, delayed by and hour, and a four hour drive.

But not as much as a surprise as what followed.
With malice dripping from every pore, she spat “I hate fucking Tesco“.

The lady in question is usually mild mannered, and not prone to colourful language, but, it seems, hell hath no fury compared to a tired lady shopper denied a trolley for the shopping.

Apparently, the UK’s most successful retailer, having reached a position of total dominance in the Inverness grocery business, had adopted a lesson learned from Lidl. Not satisfied with an unhealthy share of shoppers annual spend, including ours, Tesco had decided to deny some poor part timer on minimum wage a job. Instead of employing some young person to collect trolleys from where shoppers left them in the car park, Tesco preferred to make customers return them to the trolley bay themselves.

It adopted a simple system, to make even more money, not caring about the impact on customer service.
When Lidl requires the shopper to deposit a £1 coin in the trolley lock to make sure the vehicle is returned when no longer needed, the customer goes along. Afterall Lidl is a low cost, low price vendor, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. It’s all part of the deal.
When Tesco does the same thing, its exploitation, which is one part of the story, but only the first part. In the other parts, Tesco works even harder at delivering the message – customers don’t count, apart from being an unfortunate nuisance.
Following the trans-Atlantic and trans-mountain journey, our hero shopper simply wanted some basic provisions for the weekend. The new trolley system only needed a £1 coin, but unfortunately her purse was full of quarters, and nickels, and the odd dime. There wasn’t a £1 coin to be found, and therefore no trolley to be had, and therefore a limited shop, and one very annoyed customer.
Once inside the store, complaints to Tesco staff were met with silent shrugs – nothing to do with me, Missus. This company could certainly learn lessons from BA when it comes to training staff in making customers feel better about being treated worse.
Further confirmation of the company’s disdain for customers, as conveyed by its staff came at the self service checkout. Normally this particular torture chamber would be avoided at all costs. In this case, every one of the check out lanes was blocked by a queue of overflowing trolleys. Waiting in line for hours to check out the limited number of items accommodated by the hand carried basket seemed too much. Self service checkout seemed a painful, but less painful option.
At least, that was the aspiration, which didn’t last. Well this was Tesco after all. Nothing at Tesco works the way it should, for customers that is.
The staff member standing guard over the area couldn’t have been less helpful, or more insulting. Every complaining beep from the machine brought her storming to the till with new instructions, following which she returned to her watch tower. These shoppers, painfully obviously, needed a little help, and would have appreciated a little empathy, neither of which were forthcoming. Instead they were hectored like misbehaving, incompetent children who obviously didn’t have the intelligence needed to check out on their own.
Tesco displays all the worst traits of big brands with ugly customer service – poor systems which don’t work, processes which require customers to do things for themselves to make up for it, and disdainful staff who treat them like idiots.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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