MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- PSK Supermarkets here is pioneering a system in its 13 Foodtown stores that automatically pages a customer-service manager to provide personalized service to top shoppers at the checkout.
The service, thought to be one of the first of its kind, is offered through the retailer's loyalty program partner, S&H greenpoints, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and based on the customer data it maintains.
"We started testing this capability in one of our stores two months ago," stated Noah Katz, vice president at PSK Supermarkets. "We found that it works well, so we're going to leave it in our stores from now on."
Under the system, once the loyalty card of a shopper in the top 15% of spenders is scanned, an e-mail is automatically sent to a pager worn by a customer-service manager, according to Katz.
The e-mail, which takes between 15 and 25 seconds to be created and sent to the pager, contains the customer's name, loyalty tier, checkout lane location, and the time and date of the scan. Equipped with this information, the manager can greet the customer by name, help bag groceries, and ask about the shopping experience, said Katz.
"Our objective is to make sure that we're delivering good service levels to our best customers in the store," he said. "Shoppers who spend more in the store get better rewards, pay less for groceries, and get better service."
Although Katz declined to comment about whether sales have increased as a result of the program, he thinks it's helping to build customer loyalty.
"Our customers love all the attention that they're getting," said Katz. "The system is absolutely helping to build loyalty because we're taking better care of our customers. Our managers are really getting to know the shoppers." The paging feature is not offered within express lanes.
PSK Foodtown's pager feature is maintained remotely by S&H greenpoints and didn't require the installation of software in PSK's stores, according to Danilo Portal, vice president of research and development, S&H greenpoints.
"S&H uses its real-time network and the store's front-end application to identify the customer and generate the page," he said. Foodtown purchased 13 $400 pagers for use with the program, one for each store, said Katz. Pagers purchased from any provider can be used with the program.
S&H greenpoints segments loyalty cardholders into seven tiers based on their levels of purchase. Retailers who opt for the paging feature determine which level, or percentage, of top shoppers will generate an e-mail page.
PSK Foodtown managers can also determine a customer's level of loyalty by viewing the kind of specialized coupon offers printed at the checkout. "We use high-speed, high-graphic printers at the checkout to deliver customized coupons and offers on a one-off basis," said Katz of the S&H greenpoints system that has been in place since 1999.
For instance, a welcome message and new shopper coupons are generated the first time a customer uses the loyalty card. "If I see the new shopper coupons coming out of the printer, I as a manager can tailor my message," said Katz.