Celebrate while you Wait
A few days ago, in talking about the closure of the adjacent Oil & Vinegar store, I referred to the Eldon Square Waitrose shop as “often busy, though rarely thronged”. Scrub that – visiting during the afternoon on Saturday just gone, the store was very, very thronged indeed.
My hunch is that the snowy, icy weather may well have encouraged shoppers to abandon their cars, and instead stock up with supplies by bus, by Metro or on foot. That’s certainly what we did, walking into Newcastle city centre rather than trying to go somewhere further afield by car. Indeed, there was a report on BBC News at the weekend suggesting that convenience stores and local supermarkets were among the few retailers doing well during the ‘big freeze’, and Tim Danaher of Retail Week makes similar observations in his own blog today.
When a supermarket is very busy, there’s always potential for the customer to have a very poor and stressful shopping experience. I was pleased, however, to see Waitrose doing all the right things. First, all thirteen tills were open – which is always a good start. Even then, the queue stretched all the way from the front of the store to the back, with maybe 25 people ahead of us. Consequently, a staff member went along the queue, apologising for the wait and handing out Celebrations – a small gesture, but a thoughtful and welcome one. As it happened, the eventual length of wait – at less than 5 minutes – was no worse than I quite often experience in some of the larger supermarkets.
Still, it’s always a pleasure to see top customer service, and it’s easy to see why the John Lewis Partnership has built a reputation for being so good at it.