The folks at Dickens Sweets have raised the bar for customer service amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As larger grocery stores have become overwhelmed with online orders and deliveries, Dickens Sweets and British Museum is offering over-the-phone ordering with either self pick-up or free, same-day home delivery.
“There are a lot of folks stuck at home without the means to get groceries. We are doing this as a free service and haven’t changed our prices one bit,” said Trudi Rogers Jessop, catering manager at the store.
Their system isn’t quite as fancy as that of chain grocery stores, but it works.
Head to their website dickenssweets.com and when you click on “product list and prices,” up pops a picture of their grocery items. From there, you don’t actually order online, rather you call the store to place your order over the phone.
Both the customers and staff members are enjoying the new system. Staff fill the orders while they’re on the phone with the customer, and at the same time they chat with each other to see how the other is doing during these unprecedented times.
The bill is then tallied up and payment is taken via credit card.
People can either pick their order up at the store – they’ll dash it out to you if you don’t want to go into the store – or you can opt for the free home delivery so long as it’s a minimum order of $20.
“Our most popular requested items are British style meat pies, both individual and family size,” owner Anne Hails said.
Also popular are scones, English Easter eggs, and staples such as English baked beans, mushy peas, flour and yeast. They’re working to bring in milk and eggs as well.
They started offering this new shopping system nearly two weeks ago, on March 17, and they’ve accomplished it despite having significantly fewer staff members lately. They’ve gone from about 16 down to just three as most staff have chosen to self-isolate. Rogers Jessop and Jean Lamont have been working in the store while Hails is the delivery person.
When Hails makes a delivery, she pulls up in her silver Dickens Sweets-mobile, places the order on the front porch or outside the door of the apartment and then goes back to her car to call the customer. She then waits for them to pick up the order, gives them a smile and a waves, and is on her way.
“There’s no contact,” Rogers Jessop said.
Following one delivery, Rogers Jessop got a call from a woman expressing her gratitude for the free delivery service. Hails had just delivered an order to the woman’s father who’s English. It was his birthday and he was in tears that Dickens Sweets had delivered his food right to his front door.
Their customers just want a “taste of home,” Rogers Jessop said.
While the store remains open, they’ve put extra sanitary measures into effect for every customer who comes in.
They’ve made gloves mandatory for all customers (which they’ve provided), plus there’s hand sanitizer, both of which are available on a table at the front door.
Staff members also wear gloves and sanitize their hands after every purchase.
In addition to keeping things disinfected, they’re doing their part when it comes to social distancing, too.
They point people in one direction when going through the store so that customers enter on one side and exit through another.
And the staff are no exception – even the three women who are still working there keep their distance from each other.
“We’re doing everything we can to try and make this an easy transition for everybody because this is going to be the new normal for a while. As soon as everything goes back to normal, we can all celebrate, but in the meantime let’s make this the new normal and everybody get comfortable with it,” Rogers Jessop said.
Dickens Sweets is offering free, same-day delivery of all their groceries between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. for orders placed between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. that same day. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more, go to dickenssweets.com, or call 604-793-1981.