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We are amidst a sort of mini-revolution in grocery shopping where online grocery stores are changing the way grocery shopping is getting done not only in India but all across the globe. People are finding convenience and value in doing their grocery shopping from the comforts of their home.

In addition, the COVID situation has forced people indoors and more people are opting for online grocery stores to get their weekly shopping done. While there may be an increased number of people opting for online grocery, there is tough competition among the existing players in the market. One of the factors that would determine the winner on this turf is going to be customer service.

The e-commerce brand that is likely to offer better customer service is likely to be the most influential in the market and among customers. This write-up seeks to shed light on the creation of customer service SOPs for online grocery stores and seeks to interest business owners who are on the look-out for systems that can streamline their customer service processes.

Importance of Customer Service in Online Grocery/ Dark Stores

When thinking about customer service, one may get the notion that it is all about pacifying a dissatisfied customer or customer service inquiry is just “another ticket to deal with”. However, the scope of customer service extends beyond our basic understanding of the practice and can be vital to acquiring new customers and retaining the existing ones.

A business especially online business must understand that a customer is in need of support even when they browse through the product catalogue. One of the impediments in online shopping is the customer’s inability to physically sample the product. This can be overcome with good customer support wherein customers can be kept well-informed about products through good customer service preventing them from switching over to an alternate e-commerce brand.

Customer service becomes even more essential in a post-sale scenario where customers with concerns about the product or service would need access to appropriate channels where they could raise their concerns and grievances. Such an arrangement is immensely beneficial in cementing a relationship based on trust, which can turn customers into active brand loyalists.

Need for Customer Service SOPs in Online Grocery/ Dark Stores

Now that we understand the importance of customer service, let us try and decipher the areas where standard operating procedure for customer service can play a critical role in online reputation management and taking the company to the next level:

  • Order Management: One of the key areas where customer service process flow chart can play a vital role in online grocery is order management. This specifically pertains to last-mile delivery, order-related queries, and returns. An e-commerce brand will be well served if it is able to have in place standardized procedures for all these processes. Although every e-commerce brand would have guidelines in place for all such processes, it can make them even more effective with well-articulated SOPs which would leave no room for ambiguity for customer service agents. They would know exactly what needs to be communicated to the customer.
  • Grievance Management: Every e-commerce brand would have customer concerns during the pre and post-sales period. And it becomes essential for the brand to offer customer service to such customers in a seamless manner. Having said that, there will also be occasions when the customer service agent would not be able to figure out how to handle a customer concern. In such a scenario, SOPs can be instrumental in articulating the necessary action needed in the situation. A well-written SOP will have solutions to contingencies that could be of tremendous help to the customer service agent.
  • Communication Guidelines: All customer service agents and delivery executives are the front face of the organization. And it becomes vital for them to have a predefined set of procedures to bring in a level of consistency in service. Well written SOPs can serve as the vital link in establishing guidelines for the support and delivery staff to follow. Such written SOP procedures will ensure there are no lapses or mistakes from members of these teams.  

Need for Customer Service SOPs in Grocery Stores

Now let’s delve into the details on how customer service processes and procedures can make a difference in brick and mortar grocery stores. Although most of these stores do not have a separate section for customer service.  All team members on the floor are meant to provide the customer with a smooth shopping experience. And a good understanding of customer service through SOPs can improve their business prospects both in the long and short term. Let’s look at each one of them one-by-one:

  • Customer Service Communication: A standard set of procedures or SOPs can ensure that all team members on the floor of a grocery store are providing top-notch service to the customers. This will help the store in acquiring new customers and retain the existing ones.
  • Home Delivery Facility: Staff members who are entrusted with the responsibility of providing home delivery must be communicated about the stipulations concerning home deliveries. A standard SOP could serve as a guiding document for the staff to make decisions by themselves on home deliveries without the intervention of the owner as a part of customer service. At times, there can be situations where such a value-added service (home deliveries) can be detrimental to business interests in terms of distance and quantum of purchase.  
  • Mobile Based Ordering: With the rise of e-commerce companies, more grocery stores are accepting customer orders on mobile phones. But such an arrangement can backfire if there are no standardized procedures implemented. Grocery stores must be able to cater to customers even when there is a substantial rise in orders. Such situations can be remedied ideally if there is a standard set of procedures in place for mobile orders. The document would make the staff fairly conversant in providing better customer service to the customer.

Effectiveness of Customer Service SOPs for online & offline Grocery Stores

Here we are going to focus on the effectiveness of customer service process improvement for both kinds of grocery stores i.e. online & offline:

  •  Reduced Customer Grievances: Once an SOP document is in place for customer service agents it becomes relatively easy for them to handle any kind of situation. This will reduce the number of dissatisfied customers, as their concerns would have been solved amicably by the SOP trained customer service team.
  •  Improves Customer Satisfaction: When every customer is served well in accordance with their preferences and sensitivities, it will substantially improve the level of customer satisfaction. It will significantly help in retaining a large chunk of customers, who could help spread the word about the brand through word-of-mouth.
  • Increased Probability of Retaining Customers: Customer service process map can be instrumental in gaining a dissatisfied customer. The SOP trained customer service agents will be able to act with a lot of tact and understanding in offering corrective measures to the customer. Such practices go a long way in enhancing the customer experience preventing any loss of sales from dissatisfied customers.    

Conclusion

Companies that are serious about offering exemplary customer service must embrace the idea of Process Manuals / SOP. An SOP for the customer service department is integral for improving customer service process management at the grocery store (online & offline). They are not required to do it on their own, rather they have to partner with a supermarket consulting firm like Your Retail Coach (YRC) who has in-house experts with academic training and experience in devising system-integrated SOPs for both online and offline grocery stores.

If you happen to be a grocery brand that seeks to improve customer service and take it to the next level then consider partnering with retail consulting firms. YRC have in-house expertise in online reputation management, brand reputation monitoring, customer care automation, customer service process flowchart, customer service process map, customer service process improvement, and customer service process management.