Customer service excellence

I had it in my head that I wanted to do slow-roasted pork roast yesterday, the ultimate objective being delicious pulled pork bunwiches for dinner.  The first store I went had nothing in a size or fat content that would work, a store that I rarely go into and seldom feel comfortable in.  The second store, my neighborhood Safeway, didn't have anything on the shelves that suited my purpose.  However, they did have a bright smiling face behind the meat counter.

"Excuse me, but do you happen to have a pork roast back there that might work for pulled pork?" I asked.

"I love pulled pork," she replied. "How are you planning on cooking it?"

"Well, I stick it in the slow cooker with some onions, garlic and spices, then I set it and forget it."

She laughed.  "I've never heard it described like that way before.  I like it."

It was a lovely little exchange and within five minutes, I had a lovely pork roast at a reasonable price.

I was back there again this morning, on the search for a beef roast this time.  And again, I didn't find what I was looking for on the display shelves.  A bright smile of recognition greeted me right away.

"How did the pulled pork turn out?" she asked.

"It was great," I said.  "Trying something different today.  I'm looking for a chuck roast, but do you think that standing rib roast on the shelf would work?"

"It would be a lot more expensive, but yes, that would work.  We have lots of chuck back here if you want me to cut you one.  It would just take about ten minutes or so."

I happily accepted her offer, traveled around the store picking up the various bits and pieces that I needed and returned to pick up my roast.

"How does this look?" she asked.

"Absolutely perfect."

She came out from behind the counter and brought it to me.

"So, that pulled pork turned out good, eh?"

"Awesome," I said.  "What was your name?"

"Tara," she replied.  "And what is yours?"

"Russell," I said.

"Please to meet you Russell.  So, what are you going to do with the beef roast today?"

I told her. She offered me her hand.  I shook it, said thanks again, and I was off to pay for my stuff.

So, what were all the things that Tara did right?  Let's count them off.

1. She engaged me with a smile.

2. She focused on getting me what I wanted, not settling for the higher priced alternative that happened to be pre-packaged and ready to go.

3. She made a personal connection, remembering me from the previous day, among what I'm sure were many dozens of customer interactions.

4. She expressed an interest, both in how my dinner turned out yesterday, and how I was planning to prepare my beef roast today.

5. She not only was friendly and forthcoming about her name, she immediately asked for mine.

This is an example of a customer service home run in my view.  Not only did Tara deliver on exactly what I wanted, she facilitated several memorable shopping moments, and she did so in an authentic and sincere way that reminded me of being back in my local grocery store in small town Saskatchewan.

If you don't think this personal approach has a direct effect on building customer loyalty and brand equity, give your head a shake.  This was customer service par excellence. Bravo to Safeway and, most importantly Tara.  Give this girl a raise!

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