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Customer service gives independents an edge

One of the many ways independent supermarket operators differentiate themselves in the marketplace is by providing superior customer service. And superior customer service starts with recruiting, hiring, training and retaining the right people. While the larger mega-chains may have other advantages due to scale, independent, community-focused retailers have a leg up in finding and attracting talent right in the communities they serve. And then training them to meet the specific needs of their loyal customers.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t hear or read about an NGA member company associate that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve a customer. Two recent examples come to mind.

A store manager was on the floor when she noticed a woman with a five-page shopping list. The manager asked if there was anything she could do to help. She then grabbed two of the pages and proceeded to fill a shopping cart with the items on the list. She saved her customer valuable time and even managed to save her money by picking out items on special. I’ll bet she has a loyal customer for life!

In another example, an associate of an NGA independent with an online order and delivery service recently delivered an order to a customer’s home. When checking the order the customer noticed that the frozen corn was missing. The associate apologized and took it upon himself to run to a local competing supermarket, buy the corn and deliver it back to the customer. I’m guessing the larger national online grocery services would not — or could not — do the same.

Those are just two examples of what happens hundreds of time each day in our industry. And it’s the reason the NGA Educational Foundation is focused on providing NGA members with resources developed to help them recruit, train and retain the best employees. At the NGA Show (Feb. 8-11 in Las Vegas) educational sessions will highlight strategies for recruiting college students, traditional and reverse mentoring programs and training tactics for selling fresh foods. And students representing universities across the country will be there to explore employment opportunities and meet independent grocers anxious to welcome them to our industry.

It’s all about the people…and independents know how to find and keep the best.

How do you make sure customer service is a priority for your employees?

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