How SaveMart Increased Employee Engagement and Doubled Customer Satisfaction Ratings

It stands to reason that the more commoditized the consumer sector, the stronger the focus on customer satisfaction needs to be. The obvious examples; Southwest, Starbucks, Whole Foods are frequently cited as a source of inspiration, no surprise there. We love these organizations because they make our happiness a top priority, and research shows that many of us will go out of our way to stay loyal.

Of course good customer service is driven by engaged employees, cultivated through ongoing organizational focus and initiative. Our featured companies know this equation; engaged employees + great customer-service = loyal customers. And loyal customers are good for business.

So why can’t all consumer facing businesses successfully apply this simple strategy for success? Within some degree of variability, it inevitably comes down to perceived cost. Truly low-margin companies, like regional food markets for example, may not believe they have the budget to implement an effective employee engagement program designed to boost customer service. Yet they would be wrong, and this short case study can show you why.

SaveMart is a regional US grocery retailer serving Northern California and Nevada, with 221 stores, plus warehouse and distribution centers, employing over 16,500 people. It’s not fancy, it’s not organic, in fact, there is nothing necessarily memorable about SaveMart when compared to similar regional stores located throughout the country. Yet SaveMart executives knew they could differentiate themselves and gain market share, and so as part of a business building strategy, the company moved to improve customer relationships by focusing on employee engagement and recognition.

The challenge was to improve customer loyalty and since research shows thatcompanies with higher engagement rate twice as high on customer loyalty than companies with average engagement scores. Save Mart established links with customer satisfaction (measured via Mystery Shop) in a study using control group of stores over many months.

A key focus of their engagement approach was on employee recognition, working with a technology partner to boost social recognition, while aligning it with strategy.

As a result SaveMart was effectively able to more than double the proportion of stores hitting the target 90% customer satisfaction score (control group stores registered no change) resulting in a 112% increase in customer satisfaction growth across all stores.

Employee engagement is smart business, and implementing a strategy to build positive team relations that ultimately improve employee engagement is possible with the right approach. To learn more about how an employee engagement program like The Borelli Group’s UpScore can connect and align your team in 5 minutes a day, shoot me an email at

Source (SaveMart case study): James Court-Smith Engage for Success, April, 2016

To learn more about how The Borelli Group’s UpScore can help you to build a connected, productive and high performing team, contact me today;

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