Our Associates Have a Superpower
By Marisa E. Santiago Rivera RD, LND, Dietitian at Healthy Path Market and 2017 Retail RD of the Year Award Winner
In a world of long waits for service and limited dietitian availability, not many people can say “I have a registered dietitian on speed dial." But our staff can. Since the incorporation of the Dietetics Department in stores, our associates have that trick up their sleeves (we’re calling it a superpower), and they use it more and more when speaking to customers, modeling much higher service-orientation than ever before.
This new empowerment (superpower) is fueled by frequent interactions with the dietetics department through weekly meetings, a weekly e-newsletter and by participating in the events collaborating and as clients. The result of this empowerment? An improved desired to be more useful to customers. Now our associates are seeing the shopper more as an individual, with individual knowledge and needs rather than a collective. Our associates are starting to assess the customer needs beyond their ability to purchase, identifying more and more opportunities to serve.
To assess and encourage communication in order to provide service that makes sense to the shopper is what we call “client-centered customer service." In client-centered costumer service, the staff makes their individual shopper needs and satisfaction their major priorities.
Want to empower the staff into client-centered costumer service? Here's how:
- Knowledge is power, so develop trainings and certification programs in which store staff can learn about nutrition news and trends. Provide talking points.
- Promote personal relationships, communications and empathy between staff and the shopper. Have the associates call customers to talk about past/future events and new services/products.
- Frequently seek input from shoppers.
- Lead by example, incorporating client-centered techniques in your own practice. Examples include:
- Provide prompt new appointments.
- Adjust service hours to customer needs, including evening and weekend programs and services.
- Tailor information provided during sessions to their needs and assess those needs using open-ended questions.
In today's competitive market, it is more important than ever to re-evaluate our customer service efforts and to refocus them to the shopper. Our Dietetics Department takes pride in providing client-centered nutritional interventions, that when applied to customer services echo into an overall improved service. In our stores, client-centered customer service has translated the investment in the Dietetics Department into to higher customer-loyalty and more trade-ups to higher quality products. In our stores, the dietitian is not the superhero, it’s the superpower fuel.