What’s the difference between your favorite grocery store and the one you kind of hate to go to but it’s the closest one right now and options are pretty limited? What makes your favorite store the one you want to go to every time? The one you pencil in on a Sunday as a leisurely to-do? The one you think about as a place of much-needed self-restoration? Perhaps a place of calming, enjoyable me-time? A place to escape from the hectic, difficult, noisy work-week, to get lost among neatly organized rows of artisanal mustards and the tranquil, elegant faces of rustically packaged Italian macaroni. I have a couple of those in mind. How does your store become that store?
Two words: Customer satisfaction.
Make Your Store a Customer Favorite
According to a 2017 survey conducted by American Express, “More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service, and 33 percent say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.” So how do we get a good name among consumers?
Follow these simple steps to learn how:
10 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction
Keep it Clean
Your storefront is the customer’s first impression and the foundation for the shopping experience. Cleanliness is a must. Clean displays, organized shelves, and open aisles contribute to a positive shopping experience. Perishables like meat and produce should be checked daily in order to ensure only quality, fresh foods are on display for purchase. Customers want to know they are buying food from a clean source. What ultimately ends up in customers’ carts is food they feel safe bringing to their tables. Simply put, an unclean store means unclean food (or at least the impression of unclean food – which may be enough to prevent a purchase).
Make Checking-Out Efficient & Enjoyable
This is where store meets customer, a crucial moment that in many ways defines customer experience. Avoid long, slow lines, rushed interactions, and inefficient check-out tactics. Respond to the nature and flow of customers checking out as it happens. Incorporate digital technology and cater to the ever-modernizing slew of payment methods (this includes microchip technology for credit cards, Apple pay, Smartpay, and Bitcoin). This is an opportunity for employees to form customer relationships by interacting with customers one-on-one, for what can be a brief yet enjoyable encounter. Make it a good, memorable, pleasant moment.
Employees are Your Saving Grace
Your employees are an extension of your brand, the very walking embodiments of what your store has to offer. Train your employees well. Make sure they know the store and the products. Create a space they want to be in. Eliminate the stress of the work environment. This includes allowing easy access to scheduling, setting up a digitized work experience (with apps like ADP Workforce Now and Dayforce HCM), and providing employee benefits. 68% of consumers reported that “pleasant” employees make for positive shopping experiences and 62% added that helpful employees enhance the overall experience. Satisfied employees = satisfied customers.
Keep it Interesting
Maintain a variety of merchandise and access to brand names, specialty items, gourmet foods, and holiday specials. Include signs that explain what products are and what is so interesting about them. Grocer giants like Trader Joe’s have taken to the specialty concept by including a flyer of monthly new arrivals as well as stocking new products in designated displays. Learn from the success of others. A variety of merchandise and arrival of new products means there is always more to explore, and therefore, always a reason to come back.
Personalize Your Approach
Get to know your customers, remember names, have conversations, loosen the rigidity of a customer/seller relationship, welcome the person-to-person of in-store interactions, ensure honesty and friendliness. A Mercato tip is to think about customer names in relation to the thing they purchased. Next time they come in say, “Hey Tom, we got some new camembert in.” Independent grocery stores, mom-and-pop shops, and local businesses have this advantage. Make sure to use it.
Customers want to feel like you care:
Create a Feeling
Another Mercato tip! You want your customers to feel like they matter and that their experience is important. Think: “you’re my hero,” when an employee successfully finds what a customer is looking for or recommends the perfect ingredient to finish a dinner recipe. You want customers to feel welcomed, comfortable and valued. This includes going the extra mile for customers, assisting in the shopping, recommending products, and paying attention to customer needs. A valued customer base is a loyal customer base.
Sales & Promotions are the Way to a Customer’s Heart
Money does matter, and customers want to feel like they are shopping wisely. Open their palette to the array of your store’s merchandise by incorporating sample stations. Grocer titans like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Costo have incorporated this strategy much to their success. Demos allow customers to try foods before purchasing, which opens the opportunity to suggest entire recipes of food items also offered in-store. Sales and promotions are a way to give back to a loyal customer base while also exposing customers to products they are perhaps previously unfamiliar.
Shoppers love demos. Make them feel at home.
Open Your Doors Online
Set up a store website in order to provide helpful information like store location and store hours, upcoming promotions, holiday merchandise, and more. View and manage your online reviews. Engage with the world on social media and even set up loyalty programs for customers to track online. Demographic trends show that customers value extreme efficiency. Mercato is a great option for reaching a larger online audience. Mercato provides a delivery service to connect your store with online shoppers. Grocery shopping made quick and easy.
Open the Conversation for Customer Feedback
Welcome the opinions, concerns, needs and wants of your customer base. The shopping experience is a constant conversation between store owners and customers. Provide a “Contact Us” section on your website; ensure managers and employees are well-informed and easily accessible; welcome customer feedback and make an effort to meet customer expectations.
Atmosphere is Everything
Overall, improve customer experience by ensuring a positive store atmosphere. You want your customers to associate your store with a stress-free environment. You want them to feel comfortable and welcome to come back. Liven the place up! Play enjoyable, calm music overhead. Decorate for the changing seasons. Add personal touches that make your store unique.
Keep these practical, easy steps in mind to improve customer service every day. The goal is to become a family name, the spot that comes to mind when dinner is needed, the place that customers love to go to and relish returning back for more.