Three Simple Customer Service Reminders Following A Visit To The Local Supermarket

Last Sunday morning just passed I had reason to visit my local supermarket to collect a handful of groceries.

Well, actually five things.

The visit provided me with some thoughtful reminders about Customer Service, that as business owners and employees we sometimes overlook during our day-to-day running of our operations.

And we should not be overlooking anything.

Because it all matters.

Every tiny little piece matters.

I heard an observation yesterday that Disney Imagineers are trained to look at every scene and every picture from three perspectives:

Wide shot

Medium shot

Close-up shot

It would pay everybody in business if they looked at every step or stage of their business from the Customers’ Point of View as well as from the Business’s Point of View.

Here’s what happened at the Supermarket:

The Locked Front Door.

I drove down to the supermarket after completing my one hour dawn walk around my local suburbs.

When I arrived at the glass front doors of the supermarket they were locked closed [they are usually automatic opening] and an employee inside looked out to me and raised his hand towards me gesturing that the store would open in five minutes time.

I had arrived early.

There were two other shoppers already outside the doorway, and in the following five minutes that we waited for the doors to be unlocked a further three shoppers arrived.

Now, I wrote about this “accommodation factor” last year in discussing a restaurant in Northern England that closed off its kitchen at a specific time despite the fact that travelers were still arriving and searching for a later lunch. You can read that article here.

And it’s the same sort of thing here.

It wouldn’t do any harm to be able to open the doors for business five to ten minutes early as a gesture of goodwill to customers.

After all, the staff needed are already inside the store anyway, and with self-serve checkouts now, it’s not as if customers are going to be lined up at the cashiers’ register [Real live cashier. Not a robot.].

There is Lesson #1. Is it easy to do something that encourages customer loyalty?

You see, I was in a bit of a hurry, so during that five minute wait, I debated whether to drive to another nearby market that I knew was open, or whether I should use the five minutes to run my car through the carwash next door to the supermarket. [I was going to the carwash straight AFTER collecting the groceries anyhow].

Any message that your business sends intentionally or unintentionally to your customers that has the customer questioning their loyalty to your business and whether it is more convenient to do business elsewhere in the future, is not a really good message.

Who Does What?

I’m a pretty straight up and down sort of guy. I know what I eat, and I know I don’t eat much.

I don’t stray away from my staple, core supermarket items.

So, I had to pick up six items on this trip to the supermarket. Some of the items were for my children.

So, I was a little lost looking for the margarine. I’d just located the chocolate milk [for my son] which had now twice been relocated inside this supermarket in recent times.

But I could not locate the margarine.

There were several employees working around the aisles, stocking and restocking shelves and also sweeping floors.

So I asked for directions.

Sadly, the employee I asked, was a floor sweeper who let me know that he did not have a knowledge of the location of food items in the supermarket, and that I needed to seek out another employee to help me find the Lurpak.

To his credit, this floor sweeper did go out of his way to locate another employee to help me with my directions.

Lesson #2. All floor employees should be trained in assisting customers with the location of products.

Supermarkets should take a lesson from Disney. The number one employee type who is sought out for directions at Disney parks is in fact the rubbish collectors and the street sweepers.

And all these employees at Disney are also trained to stop what they are doing and to walk the Park guests right to the attraction for which they are seeking directions.

Walk This Way.

Back at the supermarket, the floor sweeper located another employee to help me locate the margarine. Here’s what happened:

Me: “I’m looking for the margarine, thanks.”

Floor employee: “It’s down the end of this aisle.” [Motions with hand and arm.]

I walked the twenty metres to the end of the aisle and located the margarine. There was no Lurpak. Only an empty shelf space. I left.

Lesson #3. If a customer needs assistance, give them assistance and ensure that a result is achieved.

Passing off a directional wave as a “task completed” is really an incomplete task.

What does this all mean for dentistry?

Could we open our front door early to allow patients to sit inside? I hope so…. I used to see a neighbouring dentist of mine who had a queue of patients waiting to enter his office after lunch because he locked his front door at lunchtime.

Does everyone in your dental office have the skill and the knowledge to discuss possible treatments and sequelae with patients, so that the patient is better informed?

And are the team members instructed to lead the patient to areas in the dental office where they could find out more about what they are asking?

I hope your dental patients aren’t being given the virtual “brush off” at your dental office….


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