Jennifer is a one in a million stay-at-home mom. (More like one OF a million stay at home moms!) She graduated from a liberal arts college but there is nothing liberal OR artsy about her. She is married to Kevin Fischer of This Just In, and together they have a beautiful young daughter Kyla Audrey. In no particular order she loves dogs, wine, a good bargain, her family, pizza, and entertaining. Follow her blog of all things miscellaneous including but not limited to cooking and baking, entertaining and party planning, being a mommy, and homekeeping.
In yesterday’s installment I blogged about how wonderful a shopping experience is at Sendik’s. Today, I’ll contrast the same adventure with Pick ‘N Save.
Essentially there are two employees I know by name and who recognize me & Kyla when we shop at the Franklin location: pharmacists Mel and Karen. As a family, we are lucky that there are just a couple of routine medications that we have filled. Then on a rare occasion we’ll have a special item, generally an antibiotic.
It doesn’t matter if we need a refill or not: “Can we see who’s working in Pharmacy? I wonder if it will be Karen, or Mel. I want to show them my ___ today.” If they appear particularly busy I tell Kyla we can simply wave and say hello and be on our way. Otherwise, we will stop and chat with either wonderful woman. Karen & I share Mommy stories; Mel and I chat about crafts and food. At Christmas time, I deliver a box of my “12 cookies of Christmas” for them to share. Although they are, I suppose, technically Pick ‘N Save employees I consider them in a league of their own.
Now we’ll travel to Deli. In a pinch I’ll grab something there. What makes me chuckle is the sign emblazoned above the counter: “Sliced the way you like it.” Sure, if you like it “shaved or sliced” the way the last employee liked it. You literally choose from two piles of meat and hope for the best. You really don’t know how long it’s been sitting there. If there’s an empty spot where a meat should be and you request some the standard answer is, “I’d have to look in the back…” with a withering look that tells you they have zero intention of doing exactly that. At that point you either choose a different item or say pointedly, “Never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.” True story: Kevin did exactly that and was met with absolutely no apology. The employee was actually relieved they wouldn’t have to trouble themselves to walk an extra ten feet.
So let’s proceed to Bakery. I haven’t seen it in a while but I remember a sign that read, “For your convenience, we are a self-serve bakery.” Excuse me??? It sure as heck isn’t for MY convenience that you are self-serve. I realize it doesn’t take an Act of Congress to pick out a roll or donut. The point is, if I want help or want to order a cake it’s no small task finding someone who resembles Ernie, the Keebler Cookie elf.
And so it continues through every other department. If something is on sale for a decent price, good luck finding it. All you’ll see is a huge bare spot on the shelf. Sure they’ll issue you a rain check but if your menu is planned around advertised items, that’s little consolation. Have a question about a product? Tack on 10 minutes to your excursion so that you can find an associate to ask. I swear they have radars that tell them: “Quick! Go hide in the back! Someone wants something!”
Yet earlier this summer Bob Mariano aka “Chairman Bob” says this of Pick:
“We re-established in our minds the notion of how important service is,” Mariano said. “The real work is in the delivery, making sure the customer sees the difference, experiences the difference.
“We can have the best plan, we can put it all on paper and say, 'Here's how the service should be; here's how the store should be.' But until it gets delivered to our customers on an everyday basis, it's just a plan. The execution is critical…”
(The rest of his plan about why he’s “bent on improving Roundy’s grocery chain” can be read here.)
The last part of the journey is, of course, the check out. No one is particularly happy to see you, regardless of the fact that ultimately YOU are the one responsible for them having a job. By rote they say “Hi/How are you/Did you find everything OK/Is everything off the bottom of your cart/Do you have your rewards card” without ever establishing eye contact.
There is a particular manager at the Franklin location (stationed consistently at the check-out lanes) who is, I will admit, pleasant enough to me and other customers. But his main focus is on the high school girls he’s hired, obviously because they wear enough eye liner and look good in spandex. Wouldn’t you think the dress code would state “no lycra” or something to that effect? Or perhaps it does and this guy just doesn’t care. He’s so busy flitting about and flirting with the coeds that the store could burn down around him and all he’d be concerned with is the date of the next social event that can bring them all together. And these nit-wit high schoolers fall for it like they’re going to get a promotion because they bat their eye lashes enough at him. Meanwhile they are bagging my loaf of bread underneath the six-pack of soda and two bags of flour.
Two weeks ago, The Business Journal reported that Pick was expanding a pilot program with changes to “include new customer service training for employees and new products with an emphasis on fresh meats and produce…” OK I’ll grant two weeks might not be a lot of time. But I haven’t caught one wisp of an indication that this is happening in Franklin.
So yeah, I might save a couple bucks on canned soup and toilet paper. But until Chairman Bob steps up to the plate and sends his employees to the same Customer Service School that Sendik’s does, I’ll stick to the Red Bag, thank you very much.
And by the way… apparently I’m not the only shopper who feels that Pick ‘N Save isn’t the bastion of best practices.