How Cooperative is Your Customer Service?

How Cooperative is Your Customer Service?

  |  May 29, 2018

Too often, customer service and membership trainings become a quick checked box on the first day on the job, and over time, staff become disconnected from the true meaning of service and the significance of their co-op in the community. As competition in our marketplace continues to tighten, it’s imperative that we strive to create a culture of continuous improvement and enthusiasm for the cooperative movement among our staff.

Training needs to go beyond the basics of generic customer service to facilitate a deeper connection between staff and cooperative ownership. Great co-op service training dives into the true meaning of cooperative ownership, why the co-op is important and why the owner is important to the co-op. Staff should be presented tools to approach the traditional membership conversation in new ways to enable them to confidently engage any shopper, whether they have been a non-member for years or are learning about a co-op for the first time.

Some tips for providing great cooperative service at your co-op:

Look to the leadership team first. Make sure they are able to clearly articulate a vision of what a great shopping experience looks like. If you can’t define it, you can’t model or teach it.

10/4 rule is important, but so are empathy and authenticity. Don’t forget to teach the “soft skills” of rapport building when training staff. Service is about a feel-good experience as much as helping shoppers find product on the shelf.

Think of cooperative service as a system, not a philosophy. Systems need to be maintained. Trainings can’t be one and done to keep up stellar shopper interactions.

Learning should be fun. Staff will retain more information and be more willing to act on it when they’ve enjoyed absorbing it. Develop creative ways to pepper your training to make it interactive and a break from the usual routine.




Grab and Go Solutions is a resource from CDS Consulting Co-op to provide easy to implement solutions to common issues facing food co-ops. Watch for future releases tackling a wide variety of topics including HR, governance, member engagement, safety, store and growth.

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