DCR is endebted to Mrs W. of Derby who has sent in a letter penned by her husband to the German discount supermarket chain LIDL back in 2009. Clearly, Mr.W is a man I could spend and evening happily leaning on a bar with.
13th May 2009
Dear Sir/Madam/Faceless peon of the LIDL Corporation,1
I felt compelled to write to you to convey my thoughts and musings after a first visit to one of your stores.
On entering the premises located in Derby2 at the Meteor Centre at 18.40 hours, I eventually found the few items I required – light bulbs, dishwasher tablets and a whole coconut, (stacked next to Tartan slippers and just below a torch with the power of a million candles!) and after deciphering the strange and cryptic dialect, (possibly Sanskrit?) that the costings of said items were displayed in, I proceeded to the front of the premises where, traditionally it must be said, there is an area set aside for payment, usually occupied by at least one member of the workforce.
Imagine my surprise to find this area totally devoid of human life and instead of a checkout area, the front of your store had been turned into an urban game reserve populated by something David Attenborough would describe as “Not quite the alpha male we were hoping for…?”
From the look of it, (him? Her? Chewbacca?)3 the slouched demeanour and the elongated arms hammering into an electronic device of questionable lifespan (if the force it was being struck with was any indication) – this was an actual employee. Incredible I know but please do wait as it really does get so much better.
I approached the checkout/game reserve/ape enclosure/Mos Eisley cantina4 populated by this behemoth and was greeted eventually by a single glance over it’s rather expressive shrugging shoulder, packed with disdain and the thumb over said shoulder gesture teamed with the obviously textbook ‘Welcome your customer greeting’ of “Not ‘ere, Till one !”
I have to admit that I was rather taken aback at this point to find that firstly, this thing could speak.
Secondly, it was being allowed to populate the public areas without a handler.
Thirdly, it was to all intents and purposes, clothed as the store manager.
You see, I did state it really did get so much better didn’t I ?
Imagine my delight after relocating to “Till one!” I was then treated to a few sideways glances and such sharp exhaling of breath as to embarrass an asthmatic, emphysemic pit pony. There followed much ringing of bells and bellowing of “Wheeeere’s An-dy?”5 to the rear of the store, some 40 feet away or possibly more. As the store was empty, the echo did not take too much time to return so accurate sonar measurement was unfortunately curtailed.
Now, I understand that running a busy business is a demanding role and far be it from me, a humble customer, to expect to be served within any sort of time frame that is not on a geologic scale. But indulge me just this once please, as a wild and fanciful suggestion from totally left field.
Are you ready……..?
How about this lazy disgrace of an excuse of an employee from your corporation get up off his useless backside and attend to the needs of the person standing in front of him !
I am quite sure you have an expansive and thorough customer service training program rolling out to all employees, as every company worth its salt does. Might I suggest that at the first opportunity you visit this store to experience the majesty of your training program in its full effect? It will take your breath away without a doubt.
It is at this point that the reason for my correspondence enters the fray.
A young man walking the length of the store with a dustpan, brush, broom, mop and bucket clutched in the way that only the terminally harassed can carry off. It was quite obvious that this young man was trying to clean the store but on recognising my need to purchase something, (who would have thought it, in a grocery store to boot?) he apologised for the delay, entered the till area, scanned the items I required and then took payment promptly and courteously. He then
thanked me for my custom and bade me farewell. Now then, if it had not been for this polite and helpful staff member I would have simply left your premises vowing never to return.
It seems that an immediate review or overhaul of your management training in customer service is necessitated. Furthermore it is my strong belief that this young man, (server 10 on the included receipt) would be far better utilised within your business than the whipping boy position he is currently employed in.
Please feel free to respond promptly and succinctly with either your standard customer service template letter, remembering to change the font of the ‘delete as required’ sections so it all looks freshly typed…. or an honest and full explanation of how you intend to address the observations raised, your own findings after a visit to said premises and apology from the individual concerned.
The choice of which I will leave entirely to you.
I will await your response with baited breath. No, seriously I will.
Mr R****** *****
PS. Please feel free to pop this ode to your significant level of customer service on your break room notice board for all to see. Might I suggest next to the vacant ‘Employee of the month’ picture
For those who inhabit parts of the world not yet infected with LIDL stores, LIDL is a chain of discount supermarkets based in Germany that operates over 10,000 stores across Europe. The company’s full name is Lidl (rhymes with piddle) Stiftung (pronounced stiff tongue) & Co. Most people go there to buy cheap bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It is rumoured that some people actually go shopping there on a regular basis ↩
Again, for our overseas readers, Derby is a city of quarter of a million souls in the East Midlands of England. It once had a half-decent football team. Its one claim to fame is that a 19thC member of Parliament, one Samuel Plimsoll, invented the line that is painted around every ship in the world. No one knows why ↩
Aka Chewie. Big hairy dude from a species know as Wookiees. Best known as Hans Solo’s co-pilot of the Miillennium Falcon ↩
Mos Eisley was a spaceport on the planet Tatooine, located in a valley somewhere to the southeast of the Jundland Wastesand roughly 80 kilometers north of Anchorhead, near the desert palace of Jabba the Hutt. Chalmun’s Cantina played a crucial role as the establishment was where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi met Han Solo and Chewbacca (see 3 above) in their quest to get to Alderaan in order to deliver the Death Star plans to the Alliance. But you already knew that didn’t you? ↩
Those readers old enough will know that this would sound exactly like the announcer’s introduction “Heeere’s An-dy!” which began the ‘Andy Williams Show’ on US, and later, UK television between 1959 and 1971. The show also regularly featured the Osmond brothers (which is why most people didn’t watch it) and a bear who was always asking for a cookie. No one knows why ↩