Feedback – listen to it!

I read a great article in the NY Times today about how a regional chain of grocery stores in Ohio battles rising food prices to keep their customers.  It’s not a big secret that they believe strongly in Customer Service.  One example (from the article) is:

At the bottom of some of its receipts, Heinen’s Fine Foods prints its phone number and asks customers to call in with comments. And each week, Tom Heinen, who runs the 17-store chain in the Cleveland area with his twin brother, Jeff, listens to a recording of those calls as he drives to work in his Chevy Blazer.

I have noticed that many chain restaurants will have a survey on their receipt and they offer a discount on your next visit or enter you in a drawing to win $1000.  These are great ideas and definitely will get people to take  the survey.

However, I really like Heinen’s idea in that they have a voice mail where people can leave comments and then the owners listen to them.  The article doesn’t state outright that they act on each comment, but I would be willing to wager a small sack of groceries that any company that is willing to go above the standard Yes or No survey and allow comments on a voice mail is also changing course based on their customer’s feedback.

One final tidbit is the quiet fact that in the day of the iPhone and Sidekick, this company is using voice mail and then transferring the calls to a portable device so that the owner can listen to them as he visits the stores.  Compare that to the standard surveys and, well… looks like Tom and Jeff Heinen really know how to listen to their customers!

Thanks for reading,



One response to “Feedback – listen to it!

  1. Scalability is an issue with such mechanisms. We use OpinionLab for example for website feedback – if I get 12 a day, I can deal with them personally but any more and I would be out of bandwidth. As soon as you start to delegate the task, the response will begin to feel degraded.

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