Don’t give your customers a reason to look elsewhere - SKUFood
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Don’t give your customers a reason to look elsewhere

At SKUFood we are all about helping suppliers create great working relationships with retailers and distributors. Part of building trust is speaking the same language. We will continue to define food and beverage industry terms in 2023. Customer service is your customer’s perception of how your business supports their priorities, as defined by them.

Customer service can be measured and you should consider a regular review of this in your business. You might have a good relationship with some customers and others where there is room for improvement. Remember, it is their perception and their priorities that you need to consider.

Don’t give your customers a reason to look elsewhere

Recently I have had some experiences as a customer that got me thinking about customer service. It is frustrating when you are ready to make a purchase and the seller disappoints. We all have options as do retailers, so it is important to assess the performance of your business.

We needed to replace one of our cars. It had served us well, but the combination of mileage and age made it necessary to be in the market for a vehicle. I returned to the dealership where we had purchased our last 3 cars. We were happy with this brand and had recommended the dealership to other people who had purchased cars there.

I went in and found someone as the salesperson we had dealt with before had moved on to another job. After explaining what I was looking for and that we had purchased our last 3 cars there the salesperson went to get the car to check out. We had decided to purchase a used car this time, given the price of new cars. He explained they had to ‘boost’ the one I had inquired about. Seems to me it isn’t being test driven hourly if they need to ‘boost’ it on a cold day. After they got it going, we had a look and everything checked out. We returned to the salesperson’s office to discuss the deal.

I offered 8% below the asking price. We knew the bargaining on used cars has diminished but I did not feel it was an unreasonable offer. The salesperson looked at me and said “our cars are priced fairly and I cannot take any offer less than the asking price to my manager”. The he just stared at me. Now I have been in a few staring contests during my days and he just sat there. He did not even ask my name or phone number or even suggest another vehicle at the price I offered. From my perspective he had no desire to sell me a car. After I waited I said, “I guess we are done here” and he replied “I guess so”. I was so frustrated. We were ready to purchase a car and he had no desire to make any effort.

We bought the same car in another city. Because of the poor customer service, we will not be going back to the dealership where we had purchased 3 cars.

Use your customer’s priorities to assess your performance

Often, I hear producers and processors say they are good at customer service. Unfortunately, they use their own definition of customer service and not the retailer’s. You have to consider how they assess your service to them. It all starts with their priorities. They are focused on:

Sales, service level (cases delivered/cases ordered), margin, driving customers to stores, reducing expenses like labour and shrink etc.

We have developed a tool to help you assess your customer service. It uses the weighted average approach so you can customize it for different customers. You assign the importance of different attributes and rate your performance. There are detailed instructions on the sheet to help you customize it for your business. Let us know how it works for you or if you have any questions.

If you have any comments about customer service, you can always send me an email or call me at (902) 489-2900.


Some customers in Ontario are upset about some new signage that has popped up in Loblaw stores notifying customers about receipt checks. This loss prevention strategy would come as a result of increased theft through self checkouts.

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