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How a Midwest Grocer is Doing Social CS Right

Posted by Dean Asher on 10/28/14 11:00 PM
Topics: social media, college store customer service

Hy-Vee is a large grocery chain with stores throughout several Midwestern states, including three here in MBS' hometown of Columbia, Mo. Though you might not think of a grocer as a big social brand, Hy-Vee takes its social strategy seriously — and keeps its customers happy for it. Shep Hyken at explains how it can work for your store.

I met one of Hy-Vee’s executive vice presidents after my speech to the store directors, and he proudly told me a story about how the company uses social media to take care of its customers. Their ideas and experience with social media are a good example of how any company can use technology to deliver customer service.

The story that the VP told me actually began with a customer complaint. The company used the complaint as an opportunity and executed a perfect reaction.

The customer tweeted the following while standing in the checkout line: “Whenever I go to Hy-Vee’s Chinese Express Department, they are always out of what I want. Mad!”

It didn’t take long for Hy-Vee to become aware of the negative message, mainly because of what it calls the Listening Room. This is where employees monitor social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, for customer comments.

Thanks to the Listening Room, the employee who was monitoring the social sites saw the comment immediately and just as quickly tweeted back, asking the customer to step out of line and wait in Aisle One. The manager met the customer there within moments and was able to get the customer what he wanted.

Back in the Listening Room, the employee was happy to read the same customer’s follow-up tweet, stating that he loves Hy-Vee and that they took great care of him.

This is a great story, with lessons to teach about social media:

  • You cannot stop your customers from talking about you on social media. Good or bad, they will tell the world of their experiences. Find a way to use it to your advantage.
  • The importance of monitoring social media channels for customer comments cannot be overstated.
  • Response time is one of the keys to a successful resolution when there are negative comments. Within minutes should be the goal of any good company. Hy-Vee responded within seconds! Impressive and inspiring.
  • Your response should propose a quick resolution to any negative issues — and the faster, the better.
  • Your quick response and solving the customer’s problem will ideally end with the customer returning to the same social media channel with a positive update for all to see.

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