Recently at one of the grocery stores I frequent, I noticed three examples of what I would consider areas for course-correction in improving the customer experience. In every instance a little employee training could easily translate to a competitive advantage. Listed below are three opportunities for course correction via training and development.
Upon thanking the young man at the seafood counter for steam cooking my fresh seafood, his reply was “Yep”. Another common response is “No problem.”
Course Correction: Train employees to respond with “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure.”
I was waiting in line and I was the fourth person. Two employees of the store walked by chatting with each other not noticing the growing line and only one cashier open. What’s even more interesting about this particular situation is that when a competitor opened doors a year ago, this store’ advertised “No waiting in line” as their competitive advantage!
Course Correction: Teach employees to notice and acknowledge those standing in line and announced that they will request another cashier.
Upon checking out the young grocery-sacker took the tightly wrapped freshly steamed fish and tossed it upside down in a paper bag. When I arrived home, liquid had seeped out of the saran-wrapped Styrofoam package and onto the upholstery of my vehicle.
Course Correction: Train the cashiers as well as the grocery sackers to handle the wrapped fish with care and to lay it flat instead of turning it on its side.
Lessons for Everyone
Lessons for Employees: Pay attention. Make an effort to see beyond your own job. See the bigger picture and take initiative. You always win when you make extra effort.
Lessons for Managers: Give feedback immediately when you need to course-correct an employee and give praise when you see someone taking initiative. Share the wins in your regular meetings to elevate awareness.
Lessons for Leaders: Invest in training and development if you want to stand out from the competition.
What is needed to make the shift
As Dr. Phil always says, “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.”I always say, “you can’t acknowledge something you aren’t aware of.” Until employees are made aware of what to look for, they will fall short of delivering excellent customer service. Sometimes elevating awareness is done via customer feedback, secret shoppers, surveys or in this case, it could be done via training and education, which includes teaching critical thinking skills rather than just performing tasks.
An easy way for a manager to begin course-correcting before secret shoppers and surveys is to look at the mission, vision and values of the store. Three of the principles of this company are service, selection, and value. In this instance, I would say that course-correction in the area of service could serve as a competitive advantage for this store, given the fact that across the street is a top competitor who in my opinion beats them on service and selection.
In each one of these situations, training is an easy answer to create a competitive advantage.
If you are experiencing customer complaints, give me a call and we can talk about how a customized training program could increase your competitive advantage. Call me toll free at 1.888.434.9085