Cutomers are our best ambassadors, says Albinder Dhindsa, Grofers.
At Grofers, our prime focus has always been on providing the best customer experience at every touchpoint. Be it procurement of products, technology and innovation, training programs (for all teams and not just delivery executives), or promotions, everything has been aligned keeping in mind our customers. All teams place the customer at the center of their plans and devise solutions to continuously improve on our service. Moreover, everyone is on their toes and trying to be ahead of the present to minimize effects of any unforeseen issues. This becomes the acid test of our customer service. Our philosophy is very clear and simple to comprehend: ‘understand, empathize, and act’.
Our employees are our first customers. It becomes imperative for them to understand the functioning of Grofers in and out. If you were to join us, this is the first thing we would ask
of you. The purpose of this activity is to let the new employee understand us at every touchpoint.
We have a designated training team which runs an employee through the whole process of delighting the customer and handling complaints. After the completion of classroom training, the employees undergo on-the-job training, during which they have to implement all their learnings from the classroom sessions. The whole process requires a couple of weeks. The new joinees are then teamed up with existing employees on the basis of their personality traits. This allows them to settle in and also gives the existing employees a sense of responsibility. ‘Townhall’ is another activity which is conducted on a frequent basis. This is done to update everyone within the company (across all offices) about the growth and areas of improvement.
dealing with deviation from norms
Our training team conducts a weekly refresher session with all the employees. The reasons for employees deviating from working norms could be many. It could be both professional and personal. Thus, it is important to understand their perspective. Post this refresher session, managers are updated about the issues prevailing within their teams. A one-on-one session with the employee gives a manager an understanding of the things affecting the employee’s performance. Accordingly, a decision to send the employee for retraining is made.
attracting customers in the online space
Our existing customers are our best ambassadors. If I had to list one thing which separates us from other players in this segment, it would be ‘customer delight’. We try to offer the most competitive prices for daily use essentials and delight our customers with small surprises every now and then. We started a ‘Tweet n Shop’ initiative where you could just tweet @Grofers about anything you want (literally anything) and we would deliver it. Our mango campaign—free mangoes with every order—last year was a huge success and attracted a lot of customers. This year we are giving experiences with every order for our Mother’s Day campaign. Placing our customers first helps us retain them. They in turn, help us attract more customers. When we get good margins from our partners, we pass them on to our customers and offer pricing that is better than the supermarkets. But more importantly, it is our customer service that drives retention for us.
the challenge of the ‘Indian customer’
Our customer is a supermarket goer and not a kirana shopper. If you visit a supermarket, you will save on groceries but end up spending on fuel and parking. Moreover, you spend extra hours of your day and end up carrying heavy bags. The modern Indian consumer is starved for time. We aim to give them their existing benefits of offline grocery shopping with the added delight of a little extra time for themselves. So, I would not call it a challenge. The challenge lies in how you communicate the voice of your brand.
bringing customers online
You will be surprised to know how many homemakers browse and shop online. People now are keener than ever to shop online. In Indian households, the wife, who is the homemaker, is the key decision-maker and the husband is an enabler of technology. He is tech savvy and helps her shop online. Our customer profile is dominated by the working class, typically in the age bracket of 25-35 years. Working men and women have seen the highest traction on Grofers. Of late, we are also seeing a slightly older target group use the app—in the age bracket of 35-45 and even more. Most of our customers seek convenience but are price conscious at the same time. At Grofers, we have an app along with a
A one-on-one session with the employee gives a manager an understanding of the things affecting the employee’s performance.
website to cater to the larger audiences out there. It is quite intuitive and comes with features like reorder, in-app support, chat, live order tracking, and not to forget the ease of payment. Seeing that people are more comfortable with websites, we launched one and a mobile website. You will also find voice-based ordering possible on Grofers six months down the line.
Our growth has been steady since we realigned our business. We get 15,000 orders a day with a ticket size of R1100 and aim to increase this by 30% over the next six months. Our top-selling categories are staples— atta, pulses, spices, cooking oils, and rice.
Most of our customers seek convenience but are price conscious at the same time.
role of innovation in customer service
Our technology and innovations are always designed keeping customer needs at the heart of the solution. Before any innovation, we ask ourselves, “Is this useful to our customers?” Grofers is all about saving time, money, and saving you from the chore of grocery shopping. Our customers expect an overall ‘wow’ experience, which is less time consuming. It starts right from the app—we have made the interface fairly simple. The in-app support allows one to raise any issue regarding an order or check status of orders and refunds. The option to chat live with a customer care representative has been recently introduced. One example which changed the overall customer is the ‘real time inventory sync’. Our delivery
fulfillment rate was 80% last year, and has gone up to a staggering 99.8% now.
dealing with grievances
Our delivery executive waits for the customer to check all products. Any product can be returned then and there in case of any deviation. The refund is automatically processed. We have a ‘no questions asked’ refund policy. If an item is missing from an order, we give 200% of the item value back in return. In case, a customer raises an issue after the delivery, there is a process in line. For quality issues/damaged product, a replacement order is made or a refund is processed as per the requirement of a customer.
The option to chat live with a customer care representative has been recently introduced.
Our approach in resolving a complaint is straightforward. The employees are empowered to take exceptional calls. Managers are always approachable for escalations and executives have the freedom to walk up to the senior management for resolving issues.
Customers can rate their order experience via the in-app support on Grofers app or share feedback about it by email. We also have proactive checks in place wherein we call our customers to get their feedback in order to continuously improve our services.
We have had a few improvements put into place because of feedback. One such case was that of returning a product because it was mistakenly ordered. We previously did not accept such requests because of the huge operational costs involved. This, however, was denting customer experience. Now, the process has been implemented and we take such exceptions for new customers and at the same time, educate them about the process too.
While we started the app for the smartphone user, we realized there are people who love our service but prefer to use the web instead. There were people who did not use our service simply because we were app only. We received plenty of queries about this. So, we assembled a team of talented engineers and designers to bring the Grofers ordering experience onto the web platform. This move further helped in driving order volumes for us. Our website now accounts for 20% of our total orders. ■
The online ‘grocery ordering’ business in India has not taken off like some others such as apparel, electronics, etc. It is riddled with many challenges, some of them unique—the need for cold storage—to maintain the quality of perishable products such as fish and vegetables. However, things are now looking bright for this sector which is projected to grow by around 38%. India was the fifth largest market in Asia Pacific for online grocery retailing standing at $135mn in 2016.2 Many players are now operational in this space and are working on different business models. Grofers, a mobile and web application is setting the benchmark for service delivery and customer satisfaction. We speak to Albinder Dhindsa, Co-founder and CEO, Grofers to know more about their zest to make a mark in this category.