Great customer service is in the little details. I’ve been doing some research in the grocery industry lately and have visited countless grocery stores right here in my neighborhood outside of Sacramento. I’ve paid very close attention to store appearance, merchandise offered, customers and customer service. Because we work in the service industry I’m dialed into that aspect and recognize great store managers instantly. I believe it’s the manager who instills a customer service ethic and attitude that is positive and develops an outstanding culture. Here are some things I noticed at great stores:

  1. Employees are smiling and engaged with the customers. (Talking to their customers and not to each other.)
  2. Employees working in the aisles greet you and ask if there is something they can help you find.
  3. Employees find ways to bring you into the conversation with very simple questions: “How is your day going?” “Isn’t that bread yummy?” “Isn’t it a beautiful morning?” “Doesn’t the bakery smell delicious?” “The flowers are beautiful, I think I’ll get some today too!”
  4. Meat / Fish employees seem glad you’re there and offer suggestions. “The salmon just came in this morning, and is on sale.” “That’s the best price I’ve seen so far this season.” “Have you seen our recipes online for grilled shrimp. They are excellent.”
  5. Deli employees offer samples and help you with selections.

None of the things listed above take one second of extra time, but make you feel like a million bucks. It’s all done while checking you out, stocking the shelves, wrapping up the fish.

Here are some things I noticed at other stores, where the service culture seemed to be lacking:

  1. Employees so busy talking to each other about work schedule, days off, time off and next shift that you are completely ignored.
  2. Employees who stock shelves and block the aisle so badly, you either go down another aisle or have to interrupt their work to get by. No apology.
  3. Ringing the bell for meat / fish and waiting for more than a minute for someone to quit wrapping meat and help you. When they do…total disinterest.
  4. Robotic statements: “Did you find everything you needed?” “Do you want help out?” (While good questions to ask, perhaps…the delivery is critically important to appear sincere.)

I recognize that stores also need to offer value, convenience, great fresh products and reasonable check out processes and systems that work. But employees who engage with customers and enjoy customer interaction help create a great service culture.



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