I can think of plenty of times when I've experienced really bad or generally lacklustre customer service. It usually comes from large companies; companies who are so far detached from their consumer-base that they give their social media teams scripts to follow on Twitter. Companies who create complicated telephony routing systems that require you to solve a complex algebraic problem similar to "Hannah's Sweets" in order to be considered worthy enough to speak to a robot that can't understand the words "LET ME SPEAK TO YOUR HUMAN LEADER" and promptly hangs up on you so that you can start again.
It's rare that I walk out of a shop and think "... Wow", but that all changed on Saturday the 13th of June.
I received a text on my way to Oxford on Saturday that basically said "Hi, this is Tesco Reading West. We unfortunately have had 3 delivery drivers call in sick today and are unable to get your home delivery to you. Please contact us on this number to re-arrange, sorry for any inconvenience".
FAN-TASTIC, I moaned at my mate in the car. I was going to have to trawl around a supermarket on a Saturday amongst baby buggies and scarily overconfident trolly-pushers. I phoned the store and spoke with the Dot Com Manager, James, with my "You need to find a solution to this now" speech that I usually reserve for the guys at BT Internet. James was sincerely apologetic and explained that the unusually high and unplanned level of staff absence meant that he wouldn't be able to get a driver over to the house today. His tone was candid and genuine and within 30 seconds I could tell that James was having a hard day, but he actually wanted to help. Much to my delight, he let me know that if I wanted he could get my shopping out to the Click and Collect fridges and I could just pop by on my way home and pick it up. The Reading West store is probably about a 10 minute drive from my house so I really didn't have much of an issue with that. I collected my shopping with very little long term trauma treatment or counselling needed.
Unfortunately, however, when I got home I was missing quite a few key items from the shop. I was missing my wraps, cheese, muffins, some cake ingredients, roast dinner ingredients and other food items but more importantly I was missing 6 bottles of wine (don't judge me, 4 of them were mini bottles of red that I use to cook with). The bubble of panic associated with not having a fridge completely full of wine started to surface and I phoned James at Tesco, completely exasperated and very hungry by this point.
James spent a minute looking through the deliveries he still had on site and located my missing shopping; we shared a moment of despair as we talked about what an absolute nightmare day he must be having, but he was strangely chipper about the whole thing and had such a great attitude. He explained that the Click and Collect guys must have missed a bag or two when loading my car. Then, to my complete amazement, James at Tesco offered to DRIVE MY MISSING SHOPPING OVER TO MY HOUSE IN HIS OWN PERSONAL CAR. Who does that these days? To use one of my favourite clichés, I was completely blown away. I couldn't believe that I didn't need to fax off a health and safety declaration to state that my driveway wasn't made of knives and rattlesnakes. I didn't have to spend two-hundred and nine minutes on hold with a call centre to be reassured that they were "Very sorry for any inconvenience caused". A human man was just simply going to grab the missing bag and pop it around to the location in which I store the food I've purchased; my house.
About an hour later the doorbell rang. Annoyingly I was stuck on a call and so my soon to be husband had to answer the door and take the shopping in. I was gutted that I didn't get to thank James personally. I know it seems like such a small thing but it saved me hours of grief and resentment on a rare day off, I was back on the sofa with a full fridge by 4pm.
I'm writing this to let Tesco, and James in particular, know how much that tiny bit of "human" saved your bacon (pardon the pun). It is so so great to know that there are companies out there that still hire kind people who care about the face of the brand and care about the customers who, quite frankly, could easily pop to another supermarket after one bad experience thanks to the market saturation. To top it all off, James informed me that he had just found out that he was having a baby! He could have been at home doting over his wife; instead he was at my house, negotiating with the rattlesnakes on my drive, dropping off my wine and cheese.
James at Tesco. You are my hero. If it were up to me I'd give you extra paternity leave for this (hint, hint, Tesco?). I wish you and your family all the luck in the world!
Tesco- I'll see you next week.