Progressive Grocer Independent

FEB 2016

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Customer Service Training February 2016 | Defining the Independent Market | 29 C ustomer service may be the single most important aspect of a successful busi- ness. You can ofer the best prices and greatest prod- ucts, but if your employees are indiferent or unhelpful, consum- ers will soon fnd another supermar- ket with good prices and products. Employees are the embodiment of your brand, and a key indicator that you will be successful is how employ- ees enhance that brand, according to the "Culture Connection" white paper by Charleston, S.C.-based PeopleMatter Institute (PMI). Training employees to use cus- tomer service to ft your culture is key. Simply hiring friendly people isn't good enough. You have to teach them the skills to operate in your culture and how you want them to interact with your customers. A response that's inherent in you can be completely alien to an employee. With more opportunities than ever for consumers to go elsewhere to get their gro- ceries, including online, properly trained staf becomes even more important. "We need to make sure that customer service enhances the customer's visit to the store and gives them a reason to shop in the store," says Jeremy Johnson, edu- cation director for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (ID- DBA), based in Madison, Wis. He notes that the fresh departments ofer excellent opportunities for employ- ees to help educate customers and enhance their in-store experience, but that holds true regardless of the de- partment where the employee works. Where does customer service training begin? It begins with company culture and hiring the right people to ft that culture. If you're happy with how things operate and the interaction between you and your staf, as well as between your staf and cus- tomers, institute strategies that support these behaviors, suggests consultant Rudy Miick in PMI's white paper. If you aren't satis- fed with the way things are, Miick recommends that you defne what you would like to see by developing strategies that answer the following questions: Why are you in business? What are your values? Your customer service strategy should be based on fve steps: hire, engage, train, evaluate and rec- ognize. Hiring and training are touched on below. Hire First Miick advises frst defning excellence for each role in the store, and then hiring to meet those parameters. For Mackenthun's Fine Foods, enjoying food is important for every Tips for Happy Customers By investing time in customer service training for your employees, you can help ensure satisfied shoppers. By Katie Martin More than 80% of customers will come back because of the experience they had in your store. —CustomerThink Corp.

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