I also know about content management and customer service. One affects the other. I am, however, no expert on the grocery business, though I do know that margins are tight, which makes me assume that customers are valuable.

I recently visited a large chain grocery store in an effort to find Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I thought, going in, that chances were slim that I would find it there. Thus, my expectation was already for failure.

I wasn’t familiar with Egg Replacer by Ener-G and I didn’t look it up before I left so I wasn’t sure what the container looked like. This store has a cooler section of ‘eggs’ in little cartons that do not have shells or have already been separated so I looked there first. I didn’t find any product I thought might be the item for which I was looking. I headed over to the baking section. This store does have quite a few options for those with allergies and I looked carefully, but didn’t see what I wanted.

Thanks to http://www.clipartguide.com

Thanks to http://www.clipartguide.com

The store has very few people roaming around to offer assistance. The only person who wasn’t busy was the self checkout monitoring lady. I asked her for what I wanted and this is where the problems started:

  1. Helping me was not her job, so she tried to brush me off.
  2. She didn’t really understand what I wanted and, clearly, wasn’t interested in learning.
  3. She made no effort to get help for my question on her own.

Being deeply embroiled in databases and helping people find information makes these qualities are deeply ingrained in my professional psyche. I suggested she look it up in her database of products.

Blank stare.

I asked her if she had access to a system that would allow her to search for the product I wanted.

She stammered that she didn’t think she had access to such a system.

I stared blankly back at her willing her to suggest she call someone to help (customer service!!!). She didn’t come up with that solution until I suggested it.

I waited until the manager finally arrived, asked my question and was told, as I expected, that they did not carry Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I suggested to the manager that people on the floor should have access to some kind of content management system so he would not have to be bothered by such easy questions. I also suggested that the floor staff get additional customer service training since they were on the front lines with customers, which meant they had a direct effect on business. He said he agreed, though he was probably just jollying me along, but that there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Lessons from the Trenches:

  • Customer service is everything. They had a opportunity to renew my faith in their store, even if they didn’t have the Egg Replacer by Ener-G, through an excellent customer service experience.
  • Content/information is valuable. If your information is not organized and employees can’t find it and use it to provide a good customer service experience, you are doing a disservice to your business.
  • Training is key. Customer service skills do not always come naturally to people (I don’t blame the self-checkout monitoring lady for her lack of skills). If employees, such as the self-checkout monitoring lady, don’t have training in customer service, they cannot, necessarily, deliver a good customer service experience.

Content Management costs money, but it is also the foundation of good business practices and saves money in the end. If your information is organized, then employees can find it and reuse it. Recreating existing, but missing, poorly organized or lost, information costs money.