A recent experience at a certain well known food/department store got me thinking about customer experiences. Is every tiny little aspect of customer experience important? I believe the answer is yes when my less than £20 pound shop could actually equate to £62,400. All I and Mr D wanted was a fan and large bowl of fresh salad from the salad bar...

1. Arrive just after 9pm. 2. We eventually find fans after a five minute search in roughly the right area. 3. There is one fan left in a rather abused looking box. 4. We opt to lug it around as it is the last fan - well Mr D lugs it around. 5. Arrive at salad counter. 6. No large salad bowls - in fact there are only small salad bowls. 7. No staff on the entire delicatessen isle. 8. Mr D leaves me waiting (battered fan box at feet) while he attempts to find invisible staff. 9. Mr D tracks down 2 staff members who are chatting amongst themselves. 10. Mr D asks for help and explains what he needs. 11. One staff member just says, "Sorry can't help you." 12. Surprised and a little taken aback Mr D looks at other staff member. 13. Second more helpful staff member musters a weak, "I'll try." 14. More helpful staff member walks very slowly towards salad counter. 15. More helpful staff member shuffles around behind salad counter for about three minutes... 16. More helpful staff member mumbles in frustration to herself. 17. More helpful staff member can only find medium salad bowls. 18. More helpful staff member, "Sorry medium's all we've got". 19. "That will have to do says," says Mr D, "Thanks anyway." 20. We opt for the self service till as we only have two items. 21. Fan is unrecognised at till. I am ready to scream at this point. I just want to get home! 22. Four attempts of frazzled self service staff member to get the fan through the till. 23. This fiasco lasts about eight minutes. 24. Defeated we suggest we use the main till area to the frazzled staff members relief. 25. Mr D and I now realise that 75% of tills are shut including the less than ten item isles. 26. Frustrated we have to queue behind massive trolley lady. 27. Wait ten minutes. 28. Eventually get out of the horrible shop 35 long minutes after our arrival. 29. "Shouldn't have bothered," says Mr D looking at me. "Hope the salad's worth it!" 30. "I won't come back here in a rush!" I say to Mr D.

My point? This experience made me feel unworthy and unimportant as a customer. One fan and a salad are probably worthless to them but I'm sure they'd be interested in my weekly shop for the next ten years. An average shop of £120 a week over my next ten years of life equates to £62,400 after all. But I certainly won't be doing my weekly shop at this food store! This experience confirmed to me that our philosophy must be right - everything we do in our business is aimed at establishing long term relationships with our customers and nothing important to a customer is unimportant to us. What's your customer service philosophy?

AuthorSara Drawwater