Ask anyone involved in business with Shoppers Value in Lafayette about Susan James, and they will know right away who she is.
Employees, vendors and regular shoppers of the grocery store from the past 20 years are well acquainted with the scanning manager, who combines compassion with toughness to do her job efficiently.
“Susan is always treating everyone like family, and everyone here knows she has their back,” said Nick Lebrun, store supervisor. “If something is not right, she will let you know and make sure you straighten it out. She holds everyone accountable and makes sure everything is done right. She truly cares and is always looking out for the company.”
Susan joined the Shoppers Value team in January 1998 as a cashier. About a year later, she got promoted to scanning manager. Whether she is tending to customers, checking signage and tags, or working on payroll, Susan commits to showing up fully and doing the best job possible.
“My days are always busy, and there is always something to do. I do a little bit of everything,” said Susan. “Even on slow days, I am working non-stop because there is work to catch up on or some tagging issue to take care of that others might not notice.”
The variety of duties over which Susan takes charge help keep her fulfilled. She enjoys taking care of business and knowing that a task is always waiting for her. She is not one to take a day off work for anything short of an emergency.
“I always show up because I don’t ever want to put anyone in a bind,” she said. “I have been here during floods. I have only ever missed a day because I had pneumonia. I also went to the emergency room because I had a fish bone stuck in my throat, but if I had not had to go to the hospital to have it removed, I would have been here!”
Lebrun agrees Susan’ reliability makes his and many others’ jobs much easier. The company and its workers are not the only ones who rely on her. Susan is a soon-to-be great grandmother, and any leisure time she gets to spend with her family is a blessing for which she insists on being fully present.
Susan has a lifelong passion for the outdoors. She grew up fishing every weekend and is an avid gardener, two hobbies and skills that she has passed on to numerous members of her family. Her grandchildren’s ages span across 18 years, and each of them has had a flowerbed at their grandmother’s house – a space to fill however they choose with the flowers she takes them to buy. She still goes fishing every chance she gets, and her grandkids jump on the chance to go with her.
Susan’s experience with children has helped her customer service skills. Since she understands the difficulty of shopping with young children, she is able to better accommodate parents and kids while they shop. When she notices children crying or screaming, she takes it upon herself to help in whatever way she can – from talking to the kids to keep them entertained or offering candy or some other incentive that the parent allows. Susan has learned that dealing with people of all ages requires patience.
“When people come in, and I can tell they are having a bad day, I remember that there is a reason behind that,” she said. “I have to be patient with them and answer their questions because I don’t know what is going on in their lives. Just listening goes a long way in determining how I offer to help them.”
Susan has worked at various Shoppers Value sites and gained many friends along the way. One of the customers she met 21 years ago when she first started with the company found out that she is now at the Ambassador Caffery location. This woman now shops there every day and visits Susan.
Customers and co-workers alike look up to Susan’s ability to deal with any issue that arises, but she offers a simple set of advice valuable to workers in any industry – especially customer service.
“Don’t mix business with pleasure, and don’t give in to temptation. Just do your job, follow your morals and do what you need to do.”