Thanks for the feedback: How grocery stores should respond to customer comments

February 10, 2012

Listen to Mark Bazer discuss this post on Afternoon Shift

There's no part of the grocery store experience more pleasurable than reading the comment boards. People find all kinds of wonderful ways to tell grocery stores that they're not up to snuff. But in this age of "the customer is always right," the grocery stores just take it. Their answers all begin, "Thanks for the feedback!" and typically end with an apology. Here, using real comments from area Whole Foods (but made-up answers) I recommend how grocery stores should respond.

“Many of the foods made at Whole Foods are way too spicy for me — including the root vegetables I just tasted. Also the guacamole! People can add heat; I can’t remove it.”

But you can remove yourself from our store!

In all seriousness, we do appreciate you telling us that not all of the thousands of items we offer are appealing to you. In that spirit of honesty, we’d like to take this opportunity to tell you we think your shoes are nice but your pants, shirt and hairstyle are horrible. People can avoid looking at your shoes; they can’t not look at the rest of you!

“Last time shopping here! I used to be able to buy a small piece of Parm./Reg. Cheese but ‘Marty’ refused to cut a small piece, stating it must be cut in equal halves. F.Y.I.: Naperville W.F. will sell smaller pieces.”

We’ve talked to “Marty,” and “Marty” says he’s perfectly willing to cut you into smaller pieces. Or you can go to Naperville, which sounds to us like a less enjoyable option. But it’s your call.

“I really miss the shoygun (spelling?) tofu on the salad bar. Will it ever come back?”

If you truly missed the shogun tofu, don’t you think you would have learned to spell it correctly when we had it around?

“Thank you for your reply about how you pick samples and your openness for additional ideas. Could you use Pirate Booty as January’s featured item?”

That is a good idea! Here’s a better one. How about you buy Pirate Booty?

We make it really easy. We have bags of them on shelves. You can fondle all of the bags and choose the one you like best. Then you can bring them to a person who will ask for under $5. Then you’ll own well over 50 pieces of Pirate Booty! Which you can use to set up a mock sample station at home! Arrr!

“I went to get some of the King Ranch Casserole from the Hot Bar and it was very soupy. It seems as if they are always changing the recipe. One time it did not even have tortillas in it. Is it possible to keep the recipe consistent?”

We’ve never had anything called "King Ranch Casserole," soupy or not. And none of our casseroles have ever had tortillas. And this comment board doesn’t even exist. Have you slipped on taking your meds again? Have you?

“I don’t get why the buffet has the same things — or most of the same things — everyday. I see turkey, garlic mashed, mac ‘n cheese and wings nearly every time I’m here. How about switching things up?”

Here’s how people typically go about “switching things up.” THEY GO TO DIFFERENT PLACES TO EAT.

“Can you please add shredded chicken back to the salad bar? For us protein eaters, it is practical to have for a salad. Thank you!”

“For us protein eaters?” You act like you’re part of some select group. Last time we checked, every person on the planet, along with, hmm, let’s see, every single mammal, too, eats protein. And yet, it’s funny: You’re the only one complaining about no shredded chicken in the salad bar. The walruses, for example, haven’t said a word. Nor, for that matter, have the chickens.

“It would be awesome if you could consider vegans when you plan your salad bar. Maybe have a lentil or quinoa or any type of legume. There is legit no protein for me. It makes me very mad.”

You know what makes us mad? Vegans, apparently having run out of everything else to whine about, are now complaining about salad bars. But because you’re a “valued” customer, we’ll tell you what: We’ll put "a lentil" in the bin where the shredded chicken used to be.

“I was super impressed with the fantastic customer service I received this morning from Gary! He helped me with numerous items and even opened a bag of chips for me so I could try them! Gary deserves a bonus for his outstanding customer service.”

Thank you so much for alerting us that Gary has been opening the food. Gary deserves to be fired, and he has been. And you deserve a coupon for 25 cents off a bag of chips! Come on in any time to claim it. Just don’t ask for Gary!

“The turkey meatloaf has changed. I am assuming it has all dark meat or more dark meat. Is that true? I can’t stand the taste!”

People change. Turkey meatloaf changes. It’s called life.

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