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Service, the key to happy customers in the changing grocery industry

With greater consumer choice out there, it's crucial to differentiate your retail experience through service

Of all the industry verticals, one could argue that the grocery industry is one of the most integral, as it serves the primary source of food for many Canadians. And while the consumer demands can shift according to changing lifestyles and emerging technologies, the need for food to provide nourishment remains constant.

But alongside necessity comes consumer choice, and a big part of that for many Canadians is a great service experience. So, how do Canadians define a great service experience? A recent study by American Express Canada revealed that spontaneity, personalization and a feeling of being supported are the key elements to a great service experience.

Here are a few ways that you can ensure your customers have a great service experience:

• Personalization: It’s important to make your customers feel special, regardless of whether you are making contact online, over the phone or in person, especially as more and more retailers are opening eCommerce sites. Whether it is the friendly delivery staff who remembers a client by name or a call centre employee that goes above and beyond to solve a problem, customers can still be made to feel special – even if they don’t step foot in a store.

• Spontaneity: Customers often appreciate service most when it’s unexpected. The in-store customer experience is changing and retailers must adapt to ensure service is still integrated into their systems. For example, as self-checkout becomes more common, it’s important to have friendly, helpful staff on-hand to assist can be a great opportunity to support shoppers in an unexpected way.

• Customer Support: Customers can be made to feel supported when retailers adapt their offerings to ensure their customers’ needs are met. For example, our population is becoming increasingly diverse, and special dietary needs are on the rise. Grocers who ensure they offer products that meet these needs and have knowledgeable staff can offer real value to customers and make them feel supported.

Not only are your customers made to feel happy and special when you provide great service, they are willing to share their great experiences with others. The same American Express study showed that when Canadians receive great service, 90 per cent will talk about their experience and on average will share their story with 20 people.

Delivering exceptional customer service will not only benefit your customers but will benefit your business too.

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