Price Wars: Win them with kindness

For many, slashed prices and tempting yellow bargain signs are a wonderful sight. Wherever you food shop, it’s hard to ignore them as you push your trolley full of bargains around. That’s the Price War for you. Supermarkets battle hard to be the best value for money.

It’s what we customers want and expect, right? As it turns out, maybe not. In fact, the Institute of Customer Service is now warning retailers to stop focussing on beating each other in the race to the bottom. Deliver top notch customer service instead.

Customer satisfaction has dropped faster in this market than any other UK sector. Maybe Morrison’s should think again about slashing over 1,000 prices by 19% this February? Everyone from Asda to Tesco and Sainsbury’s would benefit from recommitting to excellent customer service.

Hire friendly, helpful people and treat them well

Great customer service has personality. That comes from your staff, not a faceless corporation and definitely not from the self-checkout robot. These people welcome money-spenders into your store with a smile, help them when they need it and build friendships with regulars.

Some people are born friendly – try to get them on-board, then point them in the right direction. Ask them to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘can I help you pack your bags?’ Basic manners make customers more inclined to part with their hard-earned cash. Offering them profit shares, which tie bonuses the overall success of the business, are another great way of fostering pride and great customer service.

Treating your staff right, making them feel valued and happy, will make them more inclined to deliver excellent customer service. Of course, a morale-boosting refresher session wouldn’t hurt from time to time, to praise your staff and give them tips on getting even better.

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Encourage customers to give feedback, then take action

Don’t panic. Mistakes happen. If you acknowledge them, apologise and accept responsibility, you’re already delivering great customer service. Most of the time there’s no harm done if the situation is resolved quickly and painlessly. And if you can’t fix it? At least your customer saw that you cared enough to try.

If you’re really serious about improving your customer service to drive brand loyalty go straight to the horse’s mouth. The best people to point out your flaws are the very people you’re trying to help. Most of the time, they’re only too happy to call you out for your mistakes. It’s character and profit building.

Go the extra mile

Of course, supermarkets should treat everyone the same, no matter how much they spend. But it really is the personal gestures which exceed expectation and show your caring side. They don’t have to be big!

From rewarding loyal customers with discount vouchers to carrying their bags to the car, apologising for queues, and taking them straight to the product they can’t find – thanking them for their loyalty will pay off long term.

All in all, food prices will, of course, always impact where we shop. The Price War will rumble on. But people want more bang for their buck. Brilliant customer service is another way to attract and retain customers, who have a habit of shopping around, and convincing them to stay loyal to your brand.