Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Ultimate in Customer Service

A simple kindness made my day today. And, it made me a fan of Safeway Inc., the third largest grocery store chain in North America.

A little history:
We don't have Safeway where I live, so I have no special customer
card, which means I'm not allowed to benefit from the in-store
advertised specials.
The other day while shopping at a Safeway near Seattle, WA, , I "forgot" my unfavored shopper status and fell for
one of those promotions -- buy two boxes of candy and get the third
one free (and save all of $1.59.) Gleefully, I pluck two Mike and Ikes
and one Hot Tamale from the shelf. At the cash register, reality
bites as I'm punished into paying full price because I'm not a card-
carrying shopper.
Rats! "Don't you have a guest card you can swipe for me?" I plead
with the cashier. "So I can get the special price?"
"Oh, NO!" she darn near roars. "Why, the other day," she says, "A man
who has worked here for 30 years nearly lost his job because he used
his card for one of the customers. Had to get the union involved to
save his neck."
What kind of company fires someone for good customer service?
Well, I thought to myself, I'll NEVER shop here again!

OK. I break my vow and run into the store today for pet food, bread
and doughnuts (always doughnuts). The cashier, a different one this
time, asks if I was one of those, you know, the special people who
carry Safeway ID cards.

No, I hang my head low. I live back East. There are no Safeways there.
Just hit me with the full price. Ca-Ching!

"Well then," Mr. Perky Cashier beams. "I'll bet this fellow right
behind you (a man I never met) will let you use his!"

And just like that, I save a few pennies and Safeway gains a new

Mr. Perky Wonderful Cashier praises his employer as he bags my
goodies, saying Safeway likes to keep its employees and its customers

So why, then, (I'm thinking this in my head, not out loud) did some
other guy almost get canned over the same discount card?

"And you both win," Mr. PWC continues, talking about me and the
anonymous customer behind me in line. "You get your discount and this
customer gets cheaper gasoline."

Oh, I get it. Courtesy card users get cents off at the pump when they
shop at Safeway.

The first cashier (whose job was on the line) probably faced an
insane accusation of theft ("stealing" those cents off at the pump)
for his good deed. Mr. PWC figured out how
to avoid getting slammed while making the customer happy with the
same cents-off promotion.

Either way, I'd say Safeway has good people working the cash
registers. People who go out of their way to make me happy.

And THAT'S why I'm a big fan.


Julie and Lisa said...

So glad you like our Safeways! The first cashier was definitely an anomaly--these folks are the friendliest you'll find. Also, Safeway has a practice of hiring mentally challenged folks as baggers, which I think is just awesome. And if you ever need another discount, just type in our old Seattle phone number (it doesn't work for anything other than Safeway discount--and we don't have a gas station either): 2069332805

Nancy K said...

WOW! Thanks! I feel like I've just been given the golden key. :)