By Art Reisman
CTO – netequalizer.com
My morning ritual involves stopping in at my Local Grocery Store for a cup of coffee at their branded coffee stand. Sometimes I also pick up a few grocery items before heading into the office. At this particular King Soopers, before 7:00 am, they don’t have any checkout lanes open. My only option is the automated line. The automated lanes are great when you have one or two standard coded items, but every once in a while I forget the rules, and make the mistake. Never buy an un-coded bakery item, or some produce that the scanner does not know how to handle, doing so can make you the laughing stock of the store. The employees will huddle in the back room giggling at you on the security camera as you paw through endless menu options for a muffin that does not exist in the system.
This morning my first clue that something was amiss was that there were two check lanes open with attendants and baggers. All this at 6:45 in the morning. I also noticed somebody under the fresh flowers scrubbing the crud off the wood floor where the moisture seeps, two people organizing carts, and some strange men in suits huddling around the demo food vendors. Wait a second, demo food vendors at 6:45 in the morning?
“So is the CEO coming into the store today”, I asked the attendant who was dressed in some newly printed shirt, scrawled with a Dilbert slogan about customer service.” No not the CEO – he was here last week – today, we have the Vice President of sales visiting,” she replied.
I guess the VP of sales must bring them a ton of business because they were rolling out the red carpet like he was a Vegas high roller.
This reminded me of my early days as an engineer in Eagan Minnesota, at Sperry Corporation, when I had to break down all my experimental circuit boards in my Lab, and sit there, politely acting intelligent for two full days, because the VP of engineering was coming for a visit and might tour our lab at some point.
Sperry went under shortly after that incident. King Sooper’s parent company is healthy right now, and perhaps my experience is isolated and unfair.
I still ask the question, who is your customer?