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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Used to Enjoy Grocery Shopping

I used to enjoy shopping for groceries at my neighborhood market.  Until a few years ago, the store consistently put a good product on the shelf for its patrons.  I recommended it often to new people who moved into the area.  Granted, the store had a few down periods when produce was sketchy or the customer service was a bit lacking; however, those problems were taken care of in a timely manner.  I can't imagine that the store would have survived for close to half a century any other way.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, the quality at the store began to decline.  Apparently, the ownership was losing interest in the business and letting some details slide.  I remained loyal, but it was difficult to stomach the increase in bad apples, dented cans and slow, surly checkers that became more and more common place as the market fell into disrepair.

About a year ago, the owner of the store sold it, and a new management team was brought in.  As a consumer, it was very encouraging when the new store manager acknowledged the store's problems and indicated that he had a plan to once again provide quality products for consumers.  Yet, despite this openness, store representatives were reluctant to announce an estimated time when shoppers could expect the return of quality products to the shelf.

The manager is well-spoken, but sometimes his comments leave me scratching my head.  For example, I overheard him talking to a frustrated customer a few months ago. "Yes, I understand that you are upset about bringing home spoiled milk three times in a row, Mr. Jones.  I assure you that we are currently perfecting a milk inventory system at our sister store in Corpus Christi.  That technology will be at this store as soon as we are sure it is ready, and it will help us get good milk to you all the time." 

I even experienced the new management style firsthand a few weeks ago.  I approached the manager after it took me 39 minutes to check out with three items in the express lane.  "Well, Mr. Tauser, I could see how you might be disappointed with the 39 minutes that it took for you to finish checking out. However, we would prefer that our customers pay closer attention to a new statistic which that we created, CCIQ.  Customer Company Interaction Quotient is a multi-pronged metric which takes into account a broader sample of the factors which mold the customer's experience at our store.  I'm happy to tell you that our CCIQ has increased every month since I took over at this location."

I thanked the manager for his explanation and made a note to go to HEB the next time my pantry needed filling.  For what it's worth, I still go to my neighborhood store when I am low on orange juice.  For some odd reason, they still have plenty of that item fresh and on the shelf.

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