Careless talk costs lives

Yesterday I was in a branch of Asda in Leeds. 

While standing in the queue waiting to pay, I overheard one of the cashiers talking  loudly to another cashier as they were serving customers.

The conversation went something like this:

"Well it was awful, and I said I'm not working that shift next week, but she said I had to...and then I said that other bloke had gone off on sick leave and he was skiving, and she said that wasn't her problem...well I'm sick of this place and the way they treat you...but the other one isn't any better and he's always wasting time in meetings, and as for that new assistant, he's just as bad and there's no point in telling management because...blah...blah...blah..."

When I got to the front of the counter the cashier was extremely nice and pleasant to me. She was friendly, helpful and professional. A perfect example of good customer service.

But then as soon as she had served me, she returned to her conversation:

"They don't really care about us... and the new boss is a stuck-up cow...and they never give you enough time to go to the toilet...and that new personnel officer is no use cos she's always going off on courses when she should be in the office...blah...blah...blah..."

It got me thinking. I have seen this type of thing happen so often in organisations where the staff have to regularly deal with the public, and it's especially common in a retail environment. So common, that I almost expect to hear staff gossiping and moaning every time I go into any supermarket or large store.

It's almost as if the staff have been well-trained in customer service skills when dealing directly with the actual customer. But they mysteriously seem oblivious to the fact that the customers (unless they are deaf) can hear all the negativity and confidential information that they are inadvertently sharing with the outside world when they are gossiping with fellow employees.

The damage they can potentially do to the reputation of their organisation is immense. Yet they don't even seem to realise that the customer is listening to everything they say.

Do customer-facing staff receive training and instructions relating to confidentiality and gossiping when customers are present? Do management realise what is going on? Do they have protocols and procedures on how to deal with staff caught behaving in this way? Do they even care?

I'd love to know the answers to these questions. Can any readers enlighten me?

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