What the butcher at Ralph’s Grocery Store taught me about #CX

A vegetarian walks into the butcher section at her local grocery store…

No, this isn’t the start of a joke.

It’s what happened to me last Friday.

It was the day of the bachelorette party that I had been planning for months. Running around town, I went to three different grocery stores to gather the goods:

  • Tacos, chips & guac for Friday night
  • Bacon, eggs, muffins, fruit & mimosas for Saturday’s brunch
  • Charcuterie board & wood fired pizza for Saturday’s late lunch
  • Bottles of vodka, tequila, champagne, White Claw – you know, the usuals

The majority of the Bride Squad all eat meat therefore meat was necessary for the meals. As someone who has been a vegetarian since 2003, meat isn’t something I know much about.

I walked into my local Ralph’s store and wandered the meat section, looking for some pre-cooked and seasoned taco meat options. There were not many and I felt incredibly clueless trying to figure out a good quality brand to buy. I don’t want to feed my friends junk!

I walked up to the butcher who was stocking a display, feeling like that annoying person who is going to bug someone busy with a task. I opted to just turn away, but was desperate, so I proceeded onward.

“Hi! When you have a moment, could I please get your help?”

He stops and turns to me, with a smile.

“Sure, what can I help you with?”

I explain my situation. He laughs.

“Ah – I can imagine how frustrating that would be as someone who doesn’t eat meat is responsible for a dinner with meat! My name is Jared and I can definitely help you. ”

Jared then goes on to show me the pre-made meat options that he has available in that section. There were not many.

“If you wait here a second, I can go check in the front of the store. I am pretty sure we have some better options. Let me make sure they are not sold out. Wait here!”

A lot of thoughts ran through my mind at this point:

  • He’s going to get distracted by something else and forget about me
  • He thinks I’m a bonkers vegetarian and has decided to use this as an escape route to get away from me
  • He’s about to go on his break and this was just a ploy

A couple minutes later, I see Jared walking back towards me as I stood waiting by the sirloins.

“Yes, they are here! Come with me, I’ll show you the best options.”

So, we walk together in peace, vegetarian and butcher, to the front of the store. Jared asked me about what I plan to make for the dinner party and even suggested some items to go with the meal.

We then approach the section with the many different meat options. He points out a few that are the best, I stock my cart, thank him 10 times for his help and am on my way.

Jared not only saved the day, he made for more sales.

My friends enjoyed the food so much they made a note of the brand and plan to go to their local Ralph’s store to purchase it at another time.

This experience made me think a lot about the power of “show, not just tell” when working with customers.

If Jared had pointed in a direction for me to go find the meat, instead of showing me, I likely wouldn’t have found it. It wasn’t in the most obvious place, which he likely knew, and decided to be my guide for.

If Jared had stuck to stocking the display instead of helping me, I would have likely purchased something my friends wouldn’t enjoy, therefore wasting food and money.

If Jared would have walked away from helping me and never returned, I would have felt terrible and disappointed in the store.

If you are like me and work with customers virtually – on the phone, email or chat – sometimes it isn’t as easy to “show” how to do something. While there are amazing tools out there like loom and Vidyard, agents may not have full access to them or the time to use them during an interaction.

But – Jared took ownership of the situation with kindness, empathy and determination to help me find what I needed.

How will you help a customer find what they need today?

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Jenny Dempsey is the Consumer Experience Manager for FruitStand.com and Apeel Sciences. With 16 years of building and leading customer service & experience teams, she is also the co-founder of a customer service blog, CustomerServiceLife.com. Jenny has been recognized over the years for her work, including the The ICMI Top 25 Thought Leaders of 2021and accepting the 2019/2020 CloudCherry CX Influencer Champion award. She has a Udemy Professor with her course, "Your Customer Service Toolbox: Best Practices for Beginners" and does customer service coaching on the side. Jenny loves being an auntie to her beautiful niece, travelling the world, singing and hanging out with her toothless rescue cats. She lives in sunny San Diego, CA.

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