We drive 25 kilometres to do some of our grocery shopping even though we are surrounded by large local supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths.
Imagine driving into a supermarket carpark and having a staff member standing at the entrance ready to direct you to an available carpark. This is the beginning of the Hill Street Grocer West Hobart service experience.
First impressions matter.
It’s not a large carpark, so they also have staff members within the carpark guiding you out of your spot whilst you are reversing and directing other traffic to ensure no one hits anyone.
When you walk into the store no matter what time of the day, I am always struck by how busy the store is, how beautifully presented each area of the store is, how fresh the produce is, and that the store always appears fully stocked.
Then there is the level of customer service. There’s no self-service. There’s 6 service desks all in a row and there’s always 4 or 5 staff working at these service desks. You never have to wait long to be served, the staff are highly trained, and the queue, if there is one, moves quickly.
Within each area of the store there’s always a staff member available to help. Whether they are restocking fruit and veg, or offering a tasting of beautiful fruits and cheeses, which is always a highlight.
And, to top it off…. For those customers who have heavy bags, the staff will go out of their way to lift it up onto the counter for you and offer to have a staff member carry your bags to the car.
Aces In The Right Places
I always talk about Aces In The Right Places, they have the right people in the right role.
Everyone looks like they love their job.
On my last visit to the store, I asked to speak with the manager to let them know just how good the customer experience is. At the time he was stocking produce, working side by side with his team. It’s all hands on at Hill Street Grocers.
I’m sure that financially they are highly successful, with 10 stores located across Tasmania. They have developed a service model which exceeds expectations.
You can check out Hill Street Grocers here I encourage anyone one of you who live in Tasmania to visit a store near you. In particular West Hobart, my favourite store.
How many people do you know who drive 25 kilometres to do their grocery shopping, not because they have to, because they want to. Inspired and appreciative of the overall experience?
It’s not a big store, in fact the space is quite tight. Going down the aisles you move to let other people through. They have specials, but not significantly. Yet, we never think, oh my god, it’s just too expensive to go there or too crammed. We’re happy to pay more when you get quality produce that lasts longer, have a choice of different products and receive an extraordinarily high level of service.
To be honest, I find it hard to find something to criticize. Hill Street Grocers in West Hobart know their target market and certainly stand out within their niche. It would be the single best customer service I’ve ever had in any type of supermarket.
Today I went to my local Woolworths, which is a nice big store. I stood waiting in line to be served. The lady who served me was fine, the experience was transactional. She covered all the basic steps without as much as a smile. Even when she said goodbye to me, I noticed she was looking the other way. No eye-contact. No smile. I believe that Woolworths and Coles can significantly improve their service. Don’t get me wrong there are some great staff who offer great customer service, but they are not the majority.
Customer service is leadership driven. it’s the responsibility of a leader as a coach to ensure all staff members deliver a high level of customer service. They must be a model of the service standards and also be observing their team to ensure they are doing the same, catching those who are putting in the effort and praising them and improving those who are not.
I worked for a Foodstuffs supermarket chain in New Zealand, that’s Pak’n Save and, New World, some years ago. We trained all the leaders how to coach on the job and then the staff in delivering great customer service. We measured the customer experience before we started and then afterwards. The improvement the supermarkets we worked with achieved was amazing. Customers wrote letters to the local newspapers saying how good the service was.
We focussed on the roles of each part of the supermarket team looking at the things they could do to stand out. This was developed into behavioural service standards.
For example, we taught the trolley collectors to be the stores greeters and farewellers. They would greet the customers in the car park, they would carry umbrellas on wet days and hold umbrellas for customers arriving and leaving the store and if required, help them put their bags in the car. Back then, customers had never experienced this level of service.
Instead of just being a trolley collector, we redefined their role as the greeter. Often, they were the first and last staff member you would interact with.
We also created a game with the staff on the check outs. Our measurement for success was not just speed and efficiency, we measured how many customers smiled at any time while they were being served. The intention was to put their attention on the customer not just scanning their groceries!!.
We benchmarked at the beginning, and it was an average of 30% smiles. We then set the goal at 80% smiles. Any staff member who got 80% smiles, got rewarded. After about a month, the average score across the board was 80%. I remember the manager in a fun way rang me up and complained about how many awards he has had to give to his staff for 80% smiles. People noticed. Coaching and rewarding the team was the key to this success, it starts with the leadership.
Where your attention goes. Your energy flows.
Hill Street Grocer West Hobart is a fabulous example of this. We may not do all our grocery shopping there, but they get a good percentage of our spend.
I have contacted their head office because I would like to interview them. I want to talk to them about what they’re doing. There are not many businesses I’ve experienced that leave me feeling like I cannot help them with my expertise, they are extraordinary. If I do, I will share at a later date.
Do you have a favourite shop you go to? If so what is it about that experience that has you keep going back.
Finally, if you want to create word of mouth you have to stand out, near enough is not good enough.
Need more information? Have a look through my previous Blogs, located on The Loyalty Zone website or contact me, I look forward to hearing from you.
If you have enjoyed this article, feel free to share with someone else you know will find this helpful.
If someone has forwarded you this email, you are welcome to join The Loyalty Conversation, I appreciate your commitment to the conversation.