Our local chain grocery store has a new initiative to cut waiting times in the check-out lines.
Throughout the store, hanging posters feature photos (of real employees, presumably) proclaiming their commitment to faster customer service. At the front of the store, monitors indicate how many customers are in each aisle as well as their estimated wait time.
When I was shopping last week, I asked my checker about the campaign. If I understood her correctly, the store is using new technology that counts the number of customers in the store. This number is then used to help managers keep enough lines open to ensure speedy checkout.
I don’t have any complaints about this store’s service. I live in a small town, only minutes away from the store. I tend to shop at off-hours, my car lonely in the parking lot. I rarely have to wait at all.
This Sunday, though, my family stopped at the store on Sunday, mid-morning. As we were checking out, I noticed a line growing behind us, a parade of carts filling the front of the store. As we paid for our groceries, our checker seemed concerned. She looked around anxiously for reinforcements and called for a manager, clearly wanting to deliver on her employer’s promise to serve customers quickly, which I found very encouraging.
It’s refreshing to see a grocery store chain challenge the status quo. After living in the city, where there don’t seem to be off-hours – ever – I accept waiting in line at stores as an inevitable experience, like traffic or taxes. Most stores look to differientiate themselves by discounts and low prices. This store, not high-end at all, is also choosing to be different by improving customers’ experience.
It’s one thing to talk about customer focus. Once an organization makes loud and frequent promises to deliver great customer service, every employee within the organization needs to be empowered to make sure those promises are fulfilled.
Within organizations, leaders can make a difference in promoting great customer service. But such efforts will be most successful when they are comprehensive initiatives, when creative marketing showcases all the behind the scenes effort: clever use of technology, employee training, and implementation of customer service policies by staff at all levels of the organization.
It’s a lot more work than just hanging posters, with much greater payoffs.
This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is reposted with permission.