Where do you expect to find great customer service? A high end hotel? Definitely. A fancy restaurant? Of course. A big department store? Absolutely. What about the grocery store? The grocery store? Beyond a smile at checkout, where are the opportunities for service there? Actually, they’re everywhere when employees are service-minded.
In Indianapolis, a woman shopper noticed a man pause from his job of collecting carts from the snowy parking lot. He rushed over to a man who was visually impaired, introduce himself, and offer to help him do his shopping. She later saw them chatting happily as they made their way around the store, collecting his items. She was so impressed by this employee’s kindness and promptness in offering assistance, that she shared the story on the store’s Facebook page. As it turns out, this employee’s dedication to helping customers was not unusual. In fact, he had been happily helping this particular customer on his trips to the store for quite some time. This unwavering dedication to always being available to help and bringing such a level of enthusiasm to the twentieth interaction that it can be confused for the first interaction is the type of service our customers both crave and deserve, in any industry.
In Denver, a woman had just found out that she was pregnant with a baby boy. Wanting to surprise her husband, she stopped at the grocery store’s bakery on her way home to buy a cake. Luckily, they had a cake decorated with some blue. Unfortunately, the decorations’ theme was not workable for her intended purpose. With some quick thinking, she grabbed a few bottles of different blue sprinkles and got in line for the cake. Seeing the various bottles of sprinkles in her hands, the woman at the bakery counter asked what her plans were (as the cake was already blue). After finding out, the employee said she had a better idea and whisked the cake into the back. A few minutes later, she emerged with the same cake, but without any of its previous embellishments. In their place, she had completely redecorated it with blue baby boy themed items, resulting in a gorgeous, perfect cake. The customer was thrilled, and upon asking what the additional charge would be, was promptly told that it was on the house and the store was just honored to play a small role in a joyous day. It would have been so easy for the employee to simply smile and congratulate the customer in this instance, but she took ownership of her opportunity to do something caring and special instead. That is the mark of great customer service.
In Los Angeles, a shopper was quickly buzzing through the grocery store on an early morning. While rushing through produce, an employee stopped unboxing oranges to approach her and ask if she needed help finding anything. She could not find basil, which she had planned to use for her signature appetizer that night. He first offered to go retrieve some from the fresh herbs section, but it was out of stock. He then rushed to the front of the store to bring back a fresh plant, but could not find any. Undeterred, he called the receiving dock to see if any had arrived in their shipment that morning, only to find that it had not. He offered his customer his apologies for not having what she needed and immediately produced a $5 coupon from his apron to help make up for the inconvenience. A willingness to do everything in his power to get the customer what she needed followed by a kind gesture when even his best efforts fell short, reflects the gold standard of what it means to be customer-focused.
We don’t need to work in a flashy industry to give our customers experiences that stand out. In fact, being as dedicated to the quality of interactions our customers receive in industries that don’t elicit automatic expectations of service is even more valuable. The surprise of wonderful customer service in any and all industries is an opportunity we can not let pass us by.