Apparently, grocery stores don’t have to provide good customer service. They just have to be conveniently located–either close to the house or on the way home from work. Typically, grocery shopping is a utilitarian experience featuring service that is between not good and barely good enough. I sense that employees are preoccupied with tasks and feel zero obligation to interact with the customer.
Case in point…I recently acquired an Apple credit card and wanted to see if it could be used to buy groceries. The card is different because it doesn’t have any specific information on the card itself (see below).
Little did I know I was going to get a lesson on the current state of customer service at grocery stores:
Grocery Store #1
I drove by the store in the closest proximity to our house and asked the dude at the customer service counter if they accepted the Apple credit card. His answer was NO. That’s it. Nothing else, just NO.
Grocery Store #2
I then called the next closest store to the house and was able to get through to their customer service department. When I asked if they accepted the Apple card, the young lady who answered the phone responded, “I have no idea.” She didn’t offer to place me on hold so she could go find out. She seemed satisfied with her response.
Grocery Store #3
My final call was to the 3rd closest grocery store, where I received a warm greeting from a cheerful customer service person, and her response was, “Yes, come see us!”
I drove to store number 3, got my groceries, and went to check out. It just so happened that the customer service associate I spoke with on the phone (Shelly) had jumped into my aisle to bag groceries. I mentioned the Apple Card, and she immediately acknowledged that we spoke over the phone. She wasn’t 100% sure how to conduct the transaction but was confident I could pay for the groceries with the card. We tried to complete the transaction as you usually would and couldn’t get it through. Then Shelly invited me to follow her to the customer service counter, where she said we’d figure it out together. That’s when I had a “duh moment. It dawned on me to go to the app on my phone, which had all the information, including the cc#, expiration date, and CRV code. Shelly put the card reader in manual mode, punched in the required information, and presto– the card went through.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong. Couldn’t the other two stores have done the same thing? Assuming this is the case, the response from customer service at both stores caused me not to shop there that day. Even worse, on the days when I have time, I will invest the extra 10 minutes driving to store #3.
I understand it’s a struggle to hire and retain employees in retail brick-and-mortar stores. Regardless, the team members with customer service in their title must be the ultimate brand ambassadors. Their role is to set the standard by doing whatever it takes to please customers.
Of the 3 stores, guess which one is thriving?