Guess what, friends?  We’re on to another new job!

Previously, On Pop Culture Retrorama…

After circling around to a wide variety of “new jobs” in 2020 that include supermarkets, fast food, and retail, we’re circling back to supermarket territory, with yet another training video on proper customer service.  Jewel showed us how to put “Customers First,” and A&P taught us how to “think to prevent shrink.”  We’ve worked hard to keep our reputation solid when it is on the line at Hardee’s, how to prevent flim flam at Ames, serve drinks, chili, cookies, and work the grill at Wendy’s.  We’ve even watched the grittiest, most realistic depiction of shoplifting in a training video ever…because the examples shown were from surveillance cameras at Woolworth, and explained by a professional shoplifter.

This time around, we move away from training videos that depict actual footage as training material, and return to cheesy teaching points and depictions for our training benefit.  And as I said, we’re going back to the grocery store to work, to the 1989 world of a multi-chain training video, where we can “Be the Difference” in the lives of our customers!

“No, I Just Stock Shelves Because It’s Fun.”

Remember when “Jewel’s Own Joan” passive aggressively rang up a raincheck, or Steve the Bagger told someone he didn’t need to know where bean sprouts were, because it “wasn’t his job?”  Training videos lovingly depict the harried employee having to deal with the (allegedly) worst shoppers known to consumerism.  Cheesy music, bad acting, and acronyms like FIRST – these are the common themes of the great training videos.  We’ve got trainees getting sucked into the training room television, the Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul of fast food, and…”Jewel’s Own Joan.”

Oh, and if you must evacuate from a store, you need to do it exactly like an Ames video taught you…

This training video comes to us from 1989, and from a group of supermarkets/grocery stores under ownership of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, but you probably know them as A&P, whose 1992 video on thinking to prevent shrink was the subject of a previous training video article.

Today, we’re going to train to “be the difference” in the shopping environment.

So, pick a store (any store), and let’s get out there and help those customers!

And yes, that Kohl’s is the same company as the clothing store – it started out as a Wisconsin-based grocery store chain in 1927, with the department store model opening up in 1962. A&P purchased the grocery stores in 1983, eventually closing in 2003.

Stick around, and I’ll tell you how many of these stores are still operating!

Anyway…

“I Didn’t Get Much Service At the Service Counter…”

We are introduced to the training video by a woman in need of a few items, as well as the need to return a can of shaving cream.  She wants a circular, but customer service doesn’t have any, nor can they process an exchange for her.

Flustered, she goes off to complete her errands, but not before stepping in grape jelly in her high heels.

Ugh, why doesn’t someone clean this up?!

Meanwhile, the deli counter can’t make suggestions to substitute for baked ham on special, the meat department can’t repackage pork chops because they “don’t have time,” an older woman can’t find the Pepperidge Farm cookies she wants.

How frustrating!

Oh, and this woman is treated to my absolute favorite customer service excuse ever!

 

That would be the moment I get fired during training.  Hysterical laughing over this!

And to top it all off, there’s guy who gets ignored at the register, only to get the bare minimum from the clearly disinterested cashier, who also is more interested in getting back to her magazine than automatically bagging groceries for the customer.

Photoshopped images in The National Enquirer are waaaay more important!

These frustrating situations all lead back to our original shopper, who explains that most customers are easy to please and rarely make a scene, but the experiences these employees put forth will clearly make more than a few customers go elsewhere.

From this introduction, we go right into the teaching portion of the video, which explains how to handle these scenarios, as well as discuss how customer service is more than just helping the customers – it is also how we dress, present ourselves, and how the layout of the store is presented.

So, how can we “be the difference?”

It’s really eight simple steps!

How To “Be the Difference!”

Corporate Video Training Guy is back, and he is ready to teach you to be the difference, the A&P Group of Grocery Stores Way!

First impressions are most important (keep the circular display neat and filled in), be familiar with the store layout, be alert for empty store shelves and product that is running low (especially with sale items), and inform your manager.  When stocking the shelves, do it accordingly, so the product tag on the shelf matches up with the item you are stocking.  Aisles need to be kept clear and neat.

In regard to keeping neat and clean, any messes or spills need to be cleaned up immediately, a sanitary environment must be maintained, and personal appearance must be kept up – proper work attire, name tag, clean uniform, neat hair, and clean hands and nails can help you, the employee, “be the difference!”

And then, we go into my favorite part…the scenarios!  But, since we’ve already seen what bad customer service looks like, this section of the training video shows how it is done right, from the customer’s point of view.

We got the “Jewel’s Own Joan” depictions out of the way (for the moment), and now we’re going to see the proper examples, both the verbal and non-verbal kind.

They’re not as much fun, but they get the job done…literally!

How Is This Customer Service Done Right?

Remember the deli worker who couldn’t be bothered to suggest something in place of the ham on special?  This time, she tells him the exact name of the ham on special, and assists with getting some, as well as upselling shrimp salad (yum!).

The way she smiles and blinks kind of reminds me of the “broken record greeter” from the Hardee’s video!

Then we come to the woman who got the whole, “I stock shelves because it’s fun” excuse, which is made positive by assisting when a product is out of stock.

Customer service goes beyond the store, by assisting a customer with loading up their car.

She doesn’t accept tips.

Correctly ringing up a customer is discussed during the register portion – asking appropriate questions, eye contact, acknowledging the next customer in line, friendly and sincere greeting, and closing out the transaction.  Necessary delays in the transaction are also discussed – cash drops and shift changes that may occur, and how to address them with the customer.

And in a fun plot twist for the end of this training…challenging situations that make the job difficult!

“I don’t need this kind of aggravation!”

The old adage “no use crying over spilled milk” is truth, but what about spoiled milk?  Is it ok to be irate over milk potentially putting you in the hospital?

The teaching point here is that there is no better opportunity to turn around a dissatisfied customer, and make the solution satisfying.  And this is where the CLEAR method comes into play.  It’s a little late in the video to be employing this training method, but hey, gotta teach those employees, right?

CLEAR stands for “Calm, Listen, Empathy, Apologize, and Resolve/Refer, and we see how it is applied at the customer service counter.

Does the previously “I’m only covering Customer Service” employee resolve the Milk Situation?

Does a store take checks without a “check cashing card?”

When do you use the alternate “R,” “Refer?”

Answers are within the video!

So, with all of that said…

Are You Ready to “Be the Difference?”

Check that finely tied ribbon on your shirt, remember “CLEAR,” and you will be ready to “be the difference,” after you watch this video!

Upload via A&P Preservation

“There’s a difference you sense here, you can see it everywhere!  It keeps on telling you just how much more we care!”

Even A&P has a cool 1980s power ballad!

The Other Part You Were Waiting For…

So…how many of these stores in the A&P family are still open?

Two.

Yes, two.

The Food Emporium (based in Staten Island, New York) currently operates eight stores under the ownership of Key Food.  SuperFresh, also headquartered in Staten Island, operates ten stores under parent company Key Food.  Neither chain operates in South Jersey anymore, relegated to New York and several New Jersey suburbs nearby.  Under A&P, SuperFresh was the company’s Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC chain.

Miracle Foodmart and Miracle Ultra-Mart and Dominion were Canadian-based chains, Waldbaum’s was based in New York, Farmer Jack and Detroit, Michigan, and Kohl’s in Wisconsin.

The video was once again filmed at A&P Sav-A-Center, and I’m betting probably the same one in the “Think to Prevent Shrink” video that came a few years later.  That was Store #072 in Killingly, Connecticut, which closed in 2006, demolished in 2012, and ironically enough, is the location of Kohl’s.

Image: Flickr (Styertowne)

Learn something new everyday, don’t we?

The training videos, friends.  We learn from the training videos!

So, where will our employment ambitions lead us next?  Depends on what training video I dig up next!

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