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Are You Building Trust or Just Fixing Blunders?

By June 16, 2011December 21st, 2015No Comments

Vegetable section in the department store

This post was the headline article in this week’s Whale Hunters Wisdom newsletter.

We came home from the grocery  with a little mesh package of new red potatoes.  Also a package of baby portabella mushrooms.  Planned to use them on the same day; did not demand that they stay fresh for even three days (although that wouldn’t be too much to expect, would it?)

As I started assembling the roast pork tenderloin dinner, I discovered that the potatoes were rotten.  Not just mildly old—completely unusable.  All of them.  So good husband returned to the supermarket to get replacements.  A few minutes after he left, I opened the portabellas.  Whew!  Old. Unacceptable.  So from a very expensive, high-end so-called “luxury” grocery store, I had two high-priced items on the same day that were unfit to eat.  From a provider whose minimum requirement should be “food that is fit to eat on the day you buy it.”

When husband returned to the store yesterday, DeAnna, the produce manager, opened multiple containers of potatoes and discovered that many had outlived their usefulness.  She opened as many packages as necessary to see that we had fresh potatoes.  And today, when we were back in the store, she graciously replaced the package of portabella mushrooms based on our report about yesterday.

So, do we “trust” them?  The answer is unequivocally NO.  Trusting them to rectify their mistakes is nowhere near to trusting them to deliver fresh, edible produce in the first place.  After all, they are a grocery store.  In fact, their brand promise is:  “we are a boutique gourmet market.”  I am always willing to pay for quality food products.  But when I shop in a high-priced store whose brand is all about superior quality, then superior quality is what I expect.

Here’s more from the store’s website:

“The Farmer’s Market at ***  is renowned for keeping impeccable standards when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. We pride ourselves in procuring one of the widest selections of gourmet and specialty produce around!

***  features a vast assortment of domestic and international fruits and vegetables. The list of fresh exotic imports continues to grow as we search for the newest and most unique items Mother Nature can provide. Included in our extensive variety of fresh produce are many Asian, Latin, and European items that can’t be found anywhere else. There are no boundaries at ***when taking pleasure in eating an international favorite!

Let our experienced team offer suggestions on how to enhance the flavor of your meals with fresh cut herbs or add a colorful touch to your plates with a garnish of edible flowers. If you are looking to add variety to your culinary adventures, you’ll find it at ***  Farmer’s Market. “

This company has built its brand and justified its pricing on the promise of superior products and superior service.  When the products are markedly inferior, I have a big disconnect between the brand promise and my consumer experience.

I have no need or desire to embarrass this company; that’s not what my article is about.  The point I want to make is this:

There is a big difference between MAKING IT RIGHT after a big screw-up and DOING IT RIGHT from the get-go.

For all of us who are building businesses today, we simply cannot afford to make these trust-busting mistakes.  Yes, if you make one you need to fix it, promptly and courteously.  Nevertheless, if mistakes are a habit, you will run your company into the ground, and no amount of compensation will save you.

So, how could this grocer improve on quality delivery?

  • Institute a policy to check freshness on all perishable products daily.
  • Reward employees who discover inferior products
  • Increase demands on produce providers for freshness and shelf life
  • Enable check-out personnel to double-check freshness of produce before customers leave the store

I suspect that the store’s policy encourages employees to move aging products to the front of the display.  I suspect that the store’s policy discourages employees from bringing to light certain fresh products that are routinely over aged.  And I suspect that the check-out cashiers have no role in double-checking the freshness of the fresh products.

What is the cost of these mistakes?  I can shop at eight grocery stores within two miles of my home.  Why would I shop any longer at the one with the highest prices and a record of inferior merchandise?

What’s happening in your company?  How are you delivering your products and services?  Do you have a company fiercely devoted to getting it right the first time?  If so, you are well on the road to building trust with your customers.