The Currency of Service

Discussion
Oct 19, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Polly Flinn, senior vice president of Convenience Operations for BP Products North America, told an audience at this year’s National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) convention that the gas retailer deals in currencies beyond bills, and coins and she’s not talking about credit or debit cards, either.

Ms. Flinn, reports the convenience store trade journal Web site CSPNet.com, believes “Speed, quality, indulgence and other noncash ‘currencies’ are a major factor in a convenience retailer’s value proposition.”

The BP executive said that the key to achieving success with modern customers is creating store environments that provide consumers with options based on their individual preferences. “People like to feel that they are making decisions with their time rather than feeling like someone is making decisions for them,” she said.

Ms. Flinn recounted how she has seen customers making their own drink concoctions in BP’s stores by mixing different beverages from the soda fountain as one example of customers looking to make decisions to meet their individual needs. The company also offers consumers the option of using crushed ice or cubes in fountain beverages.

The gas and convenience store chain also revamped its coffee program by not simply featuring different flavors and offering multiple cup options but by providing consumers with information on the various beans and blends used, she said.

Moderator’s Comments: Do retailers truly appreciate the various “currencies” beyond price that factor into consumers’
perceptions of their businesses? Are a price/value proposition and service/quality one mutually exclusive?

George Anderson – Moderator

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