6 Service Secrets Learned from a Whole Foods Bulletin Board

While pounding some spicy tuna hand rolls @ Whole Foods recently, I noticed this comment board.

VERY cool. Six service lessons to be learned…

1. It’s handwritten. So, it’s personal. It’s human. It’s approachable. It shows that someone (actually) took the time to read the comment and write out an answer.

What’s more, this proves that Whole Foods respectfully treats their customers as PEOPLE. As HUMANS. Not numbers, statistics or a means to an end. Just people.

So, consider these three questions:

o What, specifically, are you doing to earn your customers’ trust?
o What, specifically, are you doing to earn your customers’ loyalty?
o How are you using handwritten materials to reinforce the human touch?

2. It demonstrates listening. Which gives the perception that there is a respectful collecting of opinions.

So, it demonstrates that, unlike a lot of companies, Whole Foods actually listens to their customers AND takes their ideas serious as potential suggestions to improve their company.

So, consider these three questions:
o How are you publicly demonstrating your willingness to listen?
o How are you allowing customers to participate in your brand?
o What innovations do your customers initiate?
3. It’s transparent. I like that the store is willing to (publicly!) admit to their mistakes. That they don’t know everything. That they screw up from time to time.

This is MUCH better than some anonymous comment box, one of those annoying web forms or a private 1-800 number where customers leave messages that never get heard. No. It’s actually public for the entire world to see!

So, consider these three questions:
o Are you willing to admit to your ignorance?
o How often do you publicly admit to your mistakes?
o How are you VISUALLY reinforcing your authenticity?

4. It builds employee accountability. If you look closely on the cards, team members actually sign their names under each comment! This keeps them accountable AND allows them to take ownership of their problems.

So, by sticking themselves out there, employees are making themselves open to criticism as well as positive feedback. This enhances their courage, which helps them grow thicker skin.

So, consider these three questions:
o How often do your employees put themselves on the line?
o How do your employees take ownership of customer problems?
o Is what you’re doing today going to bring this customer back tomorrow?

5. It demonstrates a question-friendly environment. So, here’s what happens: A complaint goes up on the board. An employee answers.

But then, OTHER customers start to notice the comment board. And as a result, they are granted permission to voice their own concerns. This leads to more feedback. Which leads to more employee/customer communication. Which leads to improved service.

So, consider these three questions:

o How are you making your customers smarter?
o Do you have a Comment Box or a Question Box?
o How are you creating an environment that enables, supports and rewards authentic dialogue?

6. It helps the store find out where they suck. Complaints are gifts. Opportunities to get better in areas you can’t recognize when you’re on the inside because you’re too close to the problem.

And, not only does this make it easier to complain, but creates a system for handling complaints.

So, consider these three questions:
o How do you find out where you suck?
o What’s your system for handling complaints?
o How are you making it easy for customer to complain?

What other companies do stuff like this?

Share your examples here!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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