How do YOU define good customer service?

f1257_s1057_it0499Sometimes, a trip to the grocery store can lead to an idea for a blog post. I like where I do our grocery shopping: the store is clean, always well-stocked, and the clerks are friendly. The young man bagging our groceries this morning was polite, wishing my teenage son and I a nice day. And that inspired me to share with my son the value of good customer service, and where I learned that.


My first (and third) job was bagging groceries. Both times I worked at the same store. The manager was a long-time company man, and former Navy. The first time I was there I really didn’t try very hard. But the second time, I did. And I learned some great lessons from Leon Riley about taking care of customers:

  • Always talk to the customer, and do NOT talk to the clerk unless it’s a 3-way conversation with the customer.
  • Mop the floors correctly.
  • Make sure the shopping carts are brought in and the cart area is full.
  • Bag with the cans at the bottom.
  • Always have someone bagging groceries on the express lane.

Leon had a simple rule, and all of these rules pointed to it: keep the customer happy.


Leon, being ex-Navy, taught me how to “swab” the tile floors. When I’d get the call at 4 AM0efb216179bd44005d7c260c5dda9ea4 that the custodian had called in sick and would I come in and clean BEFORE I did my regular shift, I would. But if I had another takeaway from all of this was the little fragile lady that none of the others baggers wanted to help. She was very insistent that we bag her groceries ONLY in the small paper bags, and ONLY putting in one layer of cans at the bottom, nothing else. She would always request this of each of us by saying “Can you please….” For a while, I too thought she was a persnickety old woman. Then I decided one day to do it the way she requested. And not only that, I went beyond that, always making sure that if I was on duty and I saw her that I bagged her groceries. Soon, this persnickety old woman started to smile, and make light conversation, and was pleasant. She even insisted on tipping me (we weren’t allowed to take tips). But what was important to me was that she was being taken care of as she expected to be. The reward was that she was happy. And, that made Leon happy. And more than once he pulled me aside to thank me for taking care of her.


grocery-baggerThe bottom line is that good customer service is not always a natural thing, but can be taught. The reward for it is happy customers. And happy customers become loyal customers. They become customers that will forgive hiccups along the way. They become customers that refer you to someone else. Yes, we can give lip-service to customer service, or do it JUST ENOUGH to get by. But when you go beyond, and really take care of the client, the client rewards you by staying.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at
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