It’s all about our customers – they’re the focus of everything we do
At 26, Tyler Mackenzie is early in his career at the NSLC. From his first day as a casual clerk in our Eastern Passage store he’s been fully focused on providing exceptional customer service. His co-workers were doing it and Tyler knew such service is expected of everyone who works at the NSLC. That focus remains steady with his current role on the sales team at the head office in Bayer’s Lake Industrial Park. “I strive to provide our customers with great customer satisfaction. It’s important to me to not only be successful at that, but to go above and beyond and make sure the customer is completely happy with the results. If I can give a little extra to improve their experience, I do.”
Bill Sperdakes has been with the NSLC for 44 years. Like Tyler, he started out as a casual employee. He’s a System Analyst now, though regardless of his role over the years, whether he was a Store Clerk or Internal Auditor, Bill never lost sight of the fact every job at the NSLC is ultimately about providing exceptional service for customers.
Delivering excellent customer service is a part of our mandate at the NSLC, but it is much more than that. Our passion for providing exceptional customer service is what sets us apart as a retailer – it’s intrinsically engrained in our culture, our strategy and our values as our employees strive continually to exceed customers’ expectations.
And we’re good at it as evidenced by a customer satisfaction rating of 90 per cent rate for fiscal 2016-2017 and a customer approval rating of up to 91% in our retail shopping experience surveys. We know what our customers think because we speak with them in our stores and conduct 1200 telephone surveys every year. We want to know what our customers like about our products and services, where they’d like to see changes, if our staff are friendly and whether they feel comfortable in our stores.
In our surveys, we pose a series of 24 questions on everything from store layout and availability of product to the knowledge and helpfulness of our staff and effectiveness of our social responsibility initiatives. Half of our customers tell us they were 100% satisfied with their experience.
That’s impressive. Our employees are clearly doing a terrific job of making sure our customers have a first rate shopping experience while learning about the products we offer.
Most corporations would view a 91 per cent approval rating as superb, and it is. In fact, it’s outstanding. But that’s doesn’t mean we can’t do better. We are on a journey of setting and exceeding ever-higher standards through continuous improvements for the customer at every step of their shopping experience.
We believe we can always do better when it comes to customer satisfaction and last year developed a strategy to make that happen with a new initiative that will help us further raise the customer experience.
“We’re known for our great customer service but that doesn’t mean we can stand still,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Pellerin. “I believe that the best retailers are always looking for new ways to raise the bar and that is what this ambitious project is all about.”
This corporate commitment to providing superior service every time a customer shops with us led to development of the Service Excellence Team. Last year, we implemented the first phase with the formation of the project team that includes Tyler and Bill.
They’re thrilled to be part of this strategic process.
“Being part of this team means we’re bringing together various abilities and ideas. I’m really excited to be part of a team that will work together as a group on a project that will ultimately amp up our customer service even more,” Bill said.
The Service Excellence Team is about building and strengthening the NSLC’s service culture, and while it is focused on specific improvements for the customer, it is about more than that. It is about an enhanced understanding that all of us at the NSLC have an important role to play in improving customer service and putting that strategy in action.
“We believe just about every interaction we have at work is an opportunity to provide excellent service. After all, we are all in the customer service business and we are all customers. How we serve one another determines how we will be able to serve the customers who buy our products,” said Jillian Major, Director of Service Excellence.
The Service Excellence Team will be responsible for all aspects of superior customer service, from wholesale ordering and external customer inquiries to store related product support and overall service excellence as we keep pace with and anticipate the ever changing needs of our customers.
“I am excited about what these changes will mean to our customers and our people,” Jillian said. “Our customers have told us they want more knowledge, more technology, more responsiveness and more flexibility so that’s exactly what we intend to deliver.”
We’ve already made tremendous strides. As we lay the foundation for providing superior customer service, all retail, assistant and Head Office managers attended leadership development training. “We need to start with our people and provide proper training and support to be a truly customer-focused company. The knowledge and skills of our people is critical to the success of this project,” Jillian said.
And last year, we elevated the shopping experience to a whole new level when we opened The Port by the NSLC. We have Product Specialists, Sommeliers and a certified Tequila expert at the downtown Halifax store ready to offer their assistance to our customers. The store has tasting stations, special events and education sessions as we follow through on our commitment to provide our customers with the products and experiences they are seeking.
We also introduced NSLC Express – neighborhood stores designed especially for customer convenience. The feedback we’ve been getting is extremely positive as customers develop a relationship with their local staff yet can also quickly pick up what they’re looking for when they’re in a rush. These stores complement our nearby full-size stores, offering our top-selling 300 brands, chilled white wine and reach-in coolers for beer and ready-to-drink products.
We will build on the improved shopping experience by investing up to $6 million over the next three years to refresh more than 30 of our small stores across the province. It is an exciting project that will make a big difference for our customers, our employees and the many small communities where we live and work.
These stores will offer an enriched product assortment of more than 500 top-selling products with space to showcase local favourites, products that are made nearby and more chilled products. The upgraded stores will also offer our customers a vibrant, inviting and more consistent shopping experience in communities across Nova Scotia.
We are working hard to build relationships with our customers that extend beyond the transaction and exceed their expectations so that in the end, we are Nova Scotians’ beverage alcohol retailer of choice.