Lessons From The Corner Shop

Yesterday I went into a corner shop to buy a newspaper.  The woman standing at the counter was muti tasking, talking on her mobile phone whilst, at the same time, chewing gum.  When I went to pay she didn’t look me in the eye, she just stuck out her hand and took my money

She didn’t even grunt at me

It was a five second interaction and I walked away from it realising that I was just a chore that she had to deal with

If I am dispassionate the newspaper was perfect and I got it at the right price without waiting

But I am never, ever going back

You can have the sharpest business processes in the world, failure free, 100% reliable, low cost, but unless your people are engaged in what they are doing you are just wasting your time

  • Do you select people to provide brilliant service?
  • Do you train people to provide brilliant service?
  • Do you empower people to provide brilliant service?
  • Do you reward people who provide brilliant service?

Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile ~ Chinese Proverb

Customer service in the corner shop

Read another opinion

Image by Dolly737_2007


  1. Hi James,
    I like you have experienced this countless times and like your Chinese proverb implies a smile or even just eye contact is part of the process and can have the biggest impact. To think otherwise is plain foolish.

    If we are wrong then perhaps there really is a market for robots to serve us. Me, I don’t think that’s how you win and enjoy the game of business.


  2. Hello James

    If you remember the review that I wrote on Richard Shapiro’s book the Welcomer Edge then you will recognise that this person is what Richard calls an ‘Indifferent’ – she is indifferent to your existence as a human being, as a customer.

    I used to think that small businesses had an advantage that they could use the human touch to really connect with the customer. ANd they can be more flexible. My experience is that many small businesses are badly run.

    Is the poor customer experience we receive nowadays due to the fact that there is not the right level of respect and pay for frontline jobs? I think so – these jobs pay so badly that the people who take them tend to be young, old or desperate for some spare cash. So, it is no surprise that the people do not put themselves into the job.

    The upside: the field is wide open to someone who gets this and takes the right actions.

    With my love

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