Customer Feedback May Give Supermarkets an Edge

Discussion
Jul 11, 2002
George Anderson

One overlooked way for supermarket chains to compete with superstores and shopping clubs is to provide superior customer service through customer feedback, writes Kathleen Kiley, Managing Editor, KPMG’s Consumer Markets Insider.

“Supermarkets need to find the means to compete with superstores because they are looking at losing market share,” says John Rittenhouse, national practice leader in KPMG’s Risk and Advisory Group in San Francisco. “Listening to customers is just good business, but now they have a compelling reason to collect feedback,” adds Rittenhouse.

Superstores take customer feedback seriously. Target customers are asked at least twice a year about their store experiences, such as how returns were handled and the length of time spent to check out, according to the company. In addition, Target has red phones at the end of most grocery isles, where customers can call if they have questions about products.

Stew Leonard’s obtains feedback from notes submitted from customers, monthly focus groups, and soliciting customer feedback in stores. As an independent, Leonard’s doesn’t have to go through layers of bureaucracy to implement suggestions. “All managers get to see the [customer suggestion] notes and if we consistently get certain notes, such as customers wanting a new product, we address it,” says company spokeswoman Meghan Flynn.

Moderator Comment: How would you rate the job supermarkets are doing at getting and processing feedback from shoppers? How can stores improve?

We’ve been waiting for more than a year from our initial request for Pathmark to begin stocking Michaelangelo’s frozen calzones and lasagna. We stopped asking our local store six months ago. Pathmark’s loss has been BJ’s gain. Of course, if now we could only get BJ’s to sell the calzones. [George Anderson – Moderator]

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