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I almost fell in love with Kroger

I heard on the radio that Kroger was having a sale on grapes so I decided to go there to take advantage of the sale.

When I walked into the entryway, much to my surprise, there were carolers singing Christmas songs and employees passing out goodie bags along with the Kroger specials of the day. So far, so good.

Then as I walked into the produce section, I found my grapes--and plenty of them---red, black and green---on sale as advertised. And what's even better is I got to pick and choose which ones I wanted and put them all in the same bag. Shortly afterwards, I asked a produce employee where the chard was and instead of pointing me in the direction, he actually guided me to the location and explained the different varieties. Now, I'm impressed!

But then a not-so-funny thing happened at the deli. This particular employee (and fellow boomer) seemed less than enthusiastic about assisting me. No smile and he mumbled his words. STRIKE ONE.

As I moseyed on to the wine section, a smiling face (a millennial) greeted me and asked if I wanted to sample a particular wine they had on sale. It wasn't quite noon yet but I thought, "What the heck!" He said he was giving me a double portion. I wondered if I had "wino" tatooed on my forehead. Nevertheless, I tasted it and was SOLD.

The wine had me feeling pretty good when I went to the checkout line. That was until I had a not so pleasant encounter with the cashier, whose name was Sharon. I greeted her first. She didn't speak back. She didn't even smile once. Perhaps she smelled the wine on my breath and thought I was just some drunk housewife hitting the bottle a little too early for her. Or maybe she was upset because she couldn't have any while on the clock. WHATEVER! STRIKE TWO. And what's even worse is she bagged my seafood with my fruit---which even I know is a no-no. STRIKE THREE.

At that point I felt the need to speak to a manager so I went to the customer service desk. Another (boomer) employee asked if she could help me in a tone that made me feel less than welcome. Once again--no smile. Then she asked me why I wanted to see a manager. I told her I had a complaint. I was sure she would soften up a bit and do her best to turn my negative perception around but she did nothing but stand there stone-faced until the manager, Mr. Hinckley, came to hear me out. He offered me a gift card for my feedback. I declined it because I wanted him to understand my complaint couldn't be bought off with a gift card. I wanted him to understand that good customer service is still the key to good business and that's why Harris Teeter remains the cream of the crop.

The bottom line is good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and reduce prices to bring in as many customers as you want, but it's also about the "experience" a customer has while in your business.

Great customer service is all about bringing customers back and about sending them away happy - happy enough to pass on positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then visit your store and, in turn, become repeat customers.

I almost fell in love with Kroger today but they just can't compete with my Harris Teeter---at least not yet anyway


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