Dear Food Lion,
I thought you would like to hear a short story about
customer service and your store. I almost never shop at your stores. I prefer
Whole Foods and Harris Teeter but occasionally I do go into the store to pick
up a few random things.
I had 5 items that I needed and stood in line as an
inexperienced cashier couldn't get the register to work properly. It was
frustrating but I understand that he was new or perhaps there was a glitch. No problem.
I moved to a different line that was empty and when I put my things on
the conveyor, the young woman said…
“sorry I am closed”
There was no sign she was closing and she didn't even look
at me. She just walked away so she could take her break. These words, sorry I am closed have been ringing in my ears all day as I thought what a missed opportunity for you and your company. You have invested money to get me to occasionally shop in the store and now because of a lack of proper training, I am in essence ignored. Sorry, I am closed.
I don’t blame this young woman for not taking care of
the human being in front of her although there wasn't an ounce of compassion or even reasonable civility. She wasn't trained to make the judgment that
her break comes second to a waiting customer.
I wonder...do you train your employees to care enough
to instill this idea in your training program? Maybe you train your employees and something happened because the training wasn't reinforced or was ineffective. In any case, I'm left with a bad experience sharing my disappointing experience on my blog. I write about marketing and customer service is an important topic to my readers.
During the same visit to your store I had a second similar experience. As I was searching the aisle for a few things, I asked an employee who was putting things away
on a shelf and straightening up the boxes, where Q-Tips were kept in the store. She said they were on the next aisle near the shampoo.
I told her I had looked there and she said I should just check again. I think the right action, if she was well-trained would have been to walk me to the place where they are located. That is my experience at Harris Teeter or Whole Foods where I shop most often. They stop what they are doing, and help the human being in front of them.
I am not interested in getting anyone in trouble. My main
purpose in writing this letter to you is to suggest that you have fixed up your
stores with nice new shelves, you have improved your advertising on T.V. and your in store produce selection appear
better than the last time I was in the store.
However, your poor and ineffective training program was a sharp contrast to my
experience earlier that day when I had an almost similar experience in Bed, Bath and
Beyond. At that store, their cashier did exactly the opposite of what
happened at your store. This woman said to me- and this is an exact quote:
“I would be
happy to help you and I’ll close my register for my break when the line goes
I really enjoy the engagement I get at Whole Foods and at
Harris Teeter as the cashier treat me like a human being. It isn't perfect but I don't recall an experience at either store that made me feel so unimportant and unwanted.
They talk to me, they
look at me and they seem to put me (as a customer) ahead of themselves (as an
employee). It appears they get training to look at customers, to talk to us and to treat us like they would treat a friend.
Thank you for listening to my story. I am not looking for anything from you except to share what happened and to suggest that the best marketing can be training. In this highly
competitive day, customer service is being seen as a powerful marketing tool to
help keep customers loyal. Maybe there
is a marketing lesson in this for you.
By the way, sorry I am not open to the idea of Food Lion being my regular store. I have too many choices and prefer the treatment I get elsewhere.
I know it is difficult to train a lion, but perhaps you need to increase your investment in employee development. Personally I think its a much better investment than advertising.
Notes: My blog is designed for those trying to unravel some of the mysteries of marketing. If you enjoy my writing, won't you share my posts with your marketing friends? Thanks.
Labels: Bath and Beyond, Bed, customer service, Food Lion, Marketing Moments, Supermarkets