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I have noticed a bit of a trend since the National Living Wage came into force and I am wondering if anyone else has? Shops, mainly large chains, now that they have to pay a fair wage have seemingly cut the number of staff they have working at any given time, which obviously is having a knock on effect to customer service.
For instance my local supermarket, the store can be heaving as would be expected on a Saturday with people doing a weekly shop. However there is one person looking after 15 self service tills and one person on the kiosk - when often the queue can be 20 people long, one person on the customer service desk and then maybe half the manned checkouts working.
This leads to customers getting frustrated and annoyed at having to wait so long and invariably they take it out on the harassed sales assistant - "Why aren't there more people serving?" or "There should be two of you on on a day like this!" - I am sure the sales assistant is asking the same questions, however they have very little control over the staffing levels. Add to this the extra tasks they are given to complete in a certain amount of time and customer service becomes less of a priority - unless someone complains to a manager of course and then everyone is given a ticking off. It's a no win situation really, don't complete your tasks within the time given, as well as serving customers and dealing with complaints about there not being enough people on and it will be brought up at your next review and you will be told to just get it done. Don't serve people properly and give them a smile and good service and get complained about and again, hauled over the coals. Give good customer service and have people complain about the length of time they have to wait and the same result.
The National Living Wage comes down to profit
This seems to have become worse since the National Living Wage came in and I think it comes down to profit. Obviously the National Living Wage has pushed up the wage bill and down profits, so instead of absorbing the cost as large, national and multinational companies could feasibly do, they cut the amount of staff to bring the wage bill back down and the profits back up and blame the shop assistants for poor customer service.
Maybe if people were a bit braver and instead of complaining to the sales assistant, or even the manager because even the manager is given a budget they have to stay within or face the consequences, the complaints need to be made to the company head office, detailing that the queue was 20 people long with only one person serving, or there was only half the manned checkouts open at a peak shopping time and ask why this is? Complain to the people that can actually do something about it rather than the front line workers who can't, and don't get listened to anyway.
Incidentally you would expect that the smaller and less profitable shops would have more of a problem with this but seemingly not, I use the smaller shops a lot more now because the customer service is so much better and you are not standing waiting in queues for 15 to 20 minutes to be served!