Bill Crawford's Blog

Redefining Customer Service

The internet and the access that it gives us to so much of the world has changed many things. Information at our fingertips to, literally, be in the know on just about any subject imaginable! We interact, work, communicate, and shop differently. So the changes in what retailers are providing the best customer service that we outlined yesterday were maybe inevitable. (Five of the top ten retailers ranked by shoppers as providing the best customer service don’t operate stores, just web sites.)

I don’t think that this takes any onus off of natural products retailers in terms of the quality staff that we hire, the training that we provide them, the quality products that we stock, the shopping experience that we aim for, etc. It does, however, show us that customers are rating us on a newly updated scale.

Some further insight came out last week in one of the blogs on the Nielsen web site. Todd Hale, Nielsen’s Senior VP of Consumer and Shopper Insights, shares that consumers are looking for things beyond price. (You can read his entire post here:

The five major areas identified as key to shoppers are:
1. Store Accessibility
2. Store Format and Wide Selection
3. Pricing and Value for Money
4. Stocking Quality Products
5. Efficiency and Loyalty Program

(His data came from Nielsen’s most recent annual Shopper Trends survey which involves feedback from 29,000 shoppers!)

As we’ve stated before, a price battle is a tough one for the natural products retailer to win. This points out that price is important – but the concept of “value for the money” is a part of it. Quality products may cost a bit more, but should provide the value to compensate for the extra expense.

Along the lines of providing service by thinking outside the box, Tesco, England’s largest food retailer, has an amazing program for its customers – Buy One Get One Free Later. (You can read an article about it here:

A customer buys a product on this program and comes back later to get their free product! It allows them to run BOGO promotions on produce or other items with short shelf lives! A great example of thinking outside the box and providing value and service to your shoppers. (A word of advice, they would have to be VERY good at administering a program like this or it would create a lot of problems!)

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