A Simple Job Done Well…

Sometimes the simplest jobs are the ones that can make the biggest impact on someone’s day.

My impetus for this post was a trip to Harris Teeter, a local grocery store.  I do most of our grocery shopping at a couple Food Lion stores because their prices are lower than Harris Teeter’s.  Harris Teeter isn’t quite as upscale as Whole Foods or The Fresh Market, but it is a more traditional grocery store.  Now, Harris Teeter does have a small advantage over Food Lion in that I start my trip at the Starbucks inside, so that puts me in a good mood as I do my shopping.  [Amazing how a good cup of coffee can do that, huh?]  The simple job* I’m talking about is cashier.  At Harris Teeter, the cashiers, as a rule, smile at me, ask how I’m doing, chat a bit, and are very polite and friendly.  Contrast that with the cashiers at Food Lion…most ask/mumble “How are you?”, but that’s about it.  Rarely a smile.  Almost never any chatter.  I’m not saying that I need a cashier to have a complete discussion of Tolstoy, but just a little emotion other than “I wish my shift was over” would be nice.  I’m not sure if Harris Teeter pays their cashiers better or just trains and expects more from them, but the difference as I check out if profound and it makes a huge difference in my attitude about the store as I am leaving, which I think is an important part of how people think of a business.

While this started as a post about grocery stores, it really applies to lots of different jobs, ranging from fast food worker, to shop/department store salesperson, to front desk clerk at hotels and businesses, to pretty much any job that has face-to-face interaction with the public.  I realize that these folks spend all day/their shift dealing with lots of people who aren’t always the nicest, but it’s their job to be the “face” of the company.  It’s their job to treat every customer as if they were the first or only customer they’ve seen that day.  It’s their job to ensure they get the order correct at the drive thru so that everyone doesn’t have to quote Joe Pesci’s character from Lethal Weapon when they get home and check the bag.  It’s their job to see a person looking at shoes in the store and ask if they can help them/find something in the back for them to try on, and continue to get boxes of shoes until the person finds the pair(s) they want, regardless of how many they have to try on before finding the right one(s)…and do it with a smile, or, at the very least, courteously.  It’s their job to answer the phone or greet the next visitor to the office in a calm and cordial manner regardless of how many jack asses they’ve dealt with that day.

When I receive good treatment, when the person performing any of these simple jobs does it well, it speaks volumes not only about the individual, but it makes the company look good, and when that happens to me, I make a point of contacting the business and letting them know.  They get plenty of bad news when someone screws up, so I make sure they hear about it when someone does the job well, and if the individual went above the “call of duty”, I make sure to let that person know how I feel, so they know their efforts didn’t go unnoticed.  It doesn’t take a lot of time and it can make a world of difference for those who frequently deal with a more and more gruff, ugly public.


*I’m not trying to ruffle feathers with this post.  By simple job, I’m referring to those that aren’t overly complicated, those that don’t take months and years of training to do correctly, those that don’t take a genius to perform well.


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