The powers that be have decided that the in-store music at Food Place needed sprucing up. Frankly, after after over a year of listening to the same tripe ad infinitum anything new is good news. But what they have provided us with has enormously boosted my confidence in Food Place bigwigs.
They've introduced "customer-suited" music. They've carried out extensive studies on what sort of customers shop in the average Food Place outlet and at what times. They've had this information analysed and have used it to play suitable music at suitable times. So the morning is dominated by Motown classics (I nearly jumped through the ceiling with joy when The Temptations - Get Ready came one) and slower, gentler modern tracks. The oldest track I noticed was Little Bitty Pretty One. The afternoon has a more 70s/80s pop tone, with disco classics like Heart of Glass and FunkyTown included. By the evening, when they think the younger people come shopping, the music gets rather rockier. Of course, there are limits. Sweet Child O' Mine, classic as it may be, isn't really suitable for food shopping is it? However, I did hear Place your Hands and Snow (Hey Oh).
OK, so they've stereotyped people enormously by doing this. But who cares? For somebody like me who listens to anything, it can't go wrong. There have been times today that I've been desperate to burst into song and dance along the aisles. Before the new stuff came along, we generally had the music turned to the lowest volume, but today we've been blaring it out. It's amazing what sort of effect a small detail like background music can have. Nothing has seemed like too big a chore today with decent tunes to work to.
It also seemed to go down extremely well with the customers too. They haven't been moaning half as much today and many of them have actually made positive comments about the new music. Perhaps next time somebody starts complaining about nothing, I'll just advise them to go with the music and relax.
We had further good news today. Head Office received a letter of compliment from a customer about the service levels in our store. It related to an incident when the customer in question had brought back a faulty MP3 player. We didn't have any in stock to replace it, but since they were quite keen on having another (they were a good make at a good price) somebody on Customer Service (Ooo...I wonder who on earth that could possibly have been...) rang round the other local stores, located one and arranged for it to be brought to our store for the customer to collect at their convenience.
Nothing outstanding really. We would do that for any customer. But they went on to say that they were "consistently bowled over" by how helpful we are. "Nothing is too much trouble", "everybody is smiling" and "the atmosphere is so friendly". Aww. They even said they prefer to travel to our store rather than use the Ellenfoot Food Place! Victory or what?
All I can say is this: they must have been lucky on their visits having obviously never encountered some of our more dubious staff. There's Andrea for a start. Her face has been set to frown-mode for so long now I think it would do serious damage if she ever happened to smile. And they clearly have never come across Cynthia and been bored to tears by tales of glandular fever and brain tumours. And they haven't gone through Lisa's till any time recently. It's basically like paying to watch a girl chew gum whilst scanning shopping.
I have to travel away on another course in a few weeks time. Mercifully, it's only about 30 miles away and I already have a vague idea of where I'm going. No confusing Internet directions this time. And I don't have to stay overnight in a hotel, which is always a bonus. Overnight stays invariably involve crossed wires at Area Resources when some fool books you into a hotel opposite a store - but not the store your course is based at. So you have to travel a further 10 miles just to get you to a room which was actually booked with somebody else's details in mind. So after rowing with reception about your own name you're booked into a room where smoking is forbidden and there's no shower. And then they decide there's a cap on how much petrol money they'll pay you for such outings, regardless of how much you spent.
You wouldn't think working in a supermarket would require such excursions would you? At the end of the day, all we do is sell people food. And yet I have to go on courses that attempt to teach me how to develop teams, coach colleagues and operate elaborate computer systems - which are only actually used to a tiny fraction of their potential. Oh it does my head in. We once had to do a pretend mystery shop in one of our rivals' stores - I've never felt like such an idiot in all my life. Being somebody who has the brains to be able to find things in supermarkets, having to go up and ask a member of staff something was an ordeal for me. I felt so stupid - "can you tell me where the tuna is please?" when I'm thinking DUH! Try looking where the rest of the tins are for a big sign saying 'tinned fish'!
I just can't help thinking that all this effort is completely wasted...