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How Customers View Customer Service

By Sylvain Charlebois

Grocers know customer service is crucial. How you deal with problems can tell a lot about your company. But with higher food prices these days, consumers are expecting an error-free experience at the grocery store, nothing less. Our lab recently looked at how customer service in the grocery industry is perceived and how complaints, and grocery receipt errors in particular, have been handled.

Working with Caddle, we conducted a cross-national survey this spring that included 5,525 respondents. The survey covered the last 12 months and focused on receipt mistakes at the grocery store, damaged food products that were unnoticed at the time of purchase, and recalled food. It also looked at how consumers dealt with these issues and how they felt grocery stores responded.

Checking receipts, errors and damaged products

67% have seen a mistake on their receipts at least once in the last year, more than expected; the most common was the price at the till not matching the price displayed on the shelf

78.5% said the wrong price was showing at the cash register

35.3% reported a daily discount was not applied

31.4% claimed the cashier accidentally scanned an item too many times 

67.0% check their receipt at the store on their way out, after paying and before getting home; the rest do it at home

49.5% always check their receipts

3.3% never check receipts

As for frequency of mistakes, 79.2% claim they find a mistake on their receipts at least 10% of the time. 15.2% will find at least one mistake on their receipt 25% of the time.

Most Canadians will report errors to their grocers.

84.0% have complained when noticing a mistake on their receipt. Of those who did not complain, 39.4% felt it was not worth the money, and 31.1% felt they did not have the time.

Many have purchased a product that was damaged without noticing this at the grocery store. 64.2% have purchased a damaged product and noticed it when they got home. Of those respondents, 50.4% returned the product with their receipt, while 33.2% decided instead to throw out the product, and 10.7% consumed the product regardless.

Finding satisfaction

Despite the issues, 87% were either satisfied or very satisfied with how grocers treated their complaints or errors on receipts. This is a very satisfactory level in terms of savings to the consumer. And when reporting mistakes to grocers, 21% of Canadians believed they saved at least $50 a year.

Close to 74% of respondents have visited a grocery store’s customer service desk for a complaint or a problem. Of that group, 81.7% felt it was either a good or a great experience dealing with customer service.

Receipts and surveys

Many receipts indicate to consumers that they can participate in a survey. Close to two-thirds (74%) of respondents have noticed consumer surveys on receipts. Of that group, 24.7% either always fill out the survey or will often do so, while 45.1% rarely or never fill out surveys.

Many have also noticed their receipt mentions the amount saved while shopping at that store. Among the 82.2% of respondents who noticed the amount saved on their receipt, 57.7% believed the amount accurately reflected what they had saved that day while grocery shopping.

Social media platforms like Twitter can provide a warped picture of customer satisfaction, but Canadians clearly appreciate how they are served at the grocery store.

Sylvain Charlebois is a professor in food distribution and policy, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, and co-host of The Food Professor Podcast.

[email protected]

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