You may know them by the infamous blue shirt they wear, by the friendly “hello” or “can I help you find something” they offer as you peruse the aisles or by their vast product knowledge and unending commitment to customer service. These characteristics make up the Heinen’s associate.
At Heinen’s, we believe “you have to find the best to sell the best,” and this includes finding the best people! Our vision begins with those who wear the Heinen’s blue shirt; they are what makes shopping with Heinen’s memorable and enjoyable.
So, let’s get to know the people behind the blue shirt! Today, we’re talking to Kitty, Heinen’s Bay Village Customer Service Manager who, after 44 years at Heinen’s has become a lifelong pillar and trusted resource for customers and associates alike.
How long have you worked at Heinen’s and what has your Heinen’s journey looked like?
I have been with Heinen’s for 44 years this March and have spent my entire career on the front end at Heinen’s Bay Village.
I did spend one year on the front end at Heinen’s Rocky River, but I was born and raised in Bay Village, I know the customers and associates and I live extremely close to the store, so the Bay Village Heinen’s has always been the best fit for me.
What attracted you a Customer Service Role?
I never intended on being a Customer Service Manager. I began working at the Bay Village store as a cashier in high school and during my senior year, I started learning how to open and close the front end and run the customer service booth. I guess you could say I unintentionally morphed into a Customer Service Manager, but after all of these years, I’m glad it worked out the way that it did!
What is the role of a Customer Service Manager at Heinen’s? What kind of services can a Customer Service Manager provide to Heinen’s customers?
As a Customer Service Manager, you’re a jack of all trades, but our main purpose is to serve the customer and help fellow associates.
It’s funny, I’ve been at Heinen’s for so long that our customers come to me for all kinds of things. In fact, a few weeks ago, a customer stopped me and asked what kind of meat she should get to make a pot roast. After helping her make her selection, she then asked me how to make a pot roast. I was happy to help guide her.
That’s the role of the Customer Service Manager, and any Front End Associate for that matter. We’re here to help our customers with anything and everything, and if we don’t know the answer, we will find someone who does.
What does your typical day look like as a Customer Service Manager?
Although no day ever looks the same, I spend most of my time interacting with customers and packing bags, but you’ll also often find me walking around the store straightening carts and helping keep other departments clean and tidy.
In addition to that, I hold one-on-one meetings with all of our Front End Associates to ensure they have all of the information and support they need to be successful, I train new associates on how to operate the registers and I create the weekly work schedule for the front end.
I have tasks that will always be my responsibility, but each day is always guaranteed to be different than the last.
What character qualities do you feel are important for a Customer Service Manager?
To be an effective Customer Service Manager, or work in customer service at all, you have to be patient, caring and understanding.
Having a desire to help people and offering compassion is key because you never know what is going on in someone else’s life.
If you could spend a day working in any other department, what would it be?
I really enjoy baking and cooking, so I think it would be fun to work in the bakery.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Every week I make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I am one of 11 kids, so I have 25 nieces and nephews and 19 great nieces and nephews. Most of them live locally, so someone is always asking for cookies. I’ll even ship a few to my family that lives further away.
What is your favorite product to buy at Heinen’s?
I love Heinen’s meat! The quality of Gerber’s CARE Certified Chicken is the best I’ve ever seen or tasted. In all of my years buying Gerber’s, I have never once had a bad piece of chicken.
What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?
I love to be with family. Years ago, I used to pick up my sister’s kids from day care on my day off and they always stayed for dinner. It turned into a tradition and now I have 8-12 family members over for dinner every Wednesday. I try to cook something different each week, so planning the menu is always a fun challenge.
What is your fondest memory from working at Heinen’s?
Wow, I have so many simply because I have gotten to know so many people during my time at Heinen’s, but there are a couple that stand out. The first has to do with the kindness of our customers. About 15-20 years ago, I had surgery and during my recovery, I received countless cards from customers, some of whom I’d known for years and others who I’d only interacted with a handful of times. The amount of love and care I felt from the Heinen’s community is something I’ll remember forever.
The second memory is one that will always make me laugh! About 13 years ago, a customer came into the store with her baby and toddler. The baby somehow got her foot stuck so tight in the cart that we had to call the paramedics to get her out. While we waited for them to arrive, I got resourceful and grabbed some butter from the Dairy Department. I rubbed it all over the baby’s foot and leg and she slid right out! The baby’s mother and I became good friends after that experience and still keep in touch to this day!
Why do you love working at Heinen’s?
I love Heinen’s Bay Village and the customers who shop here. I live extremely close to this store, so Heinen’s has always felt like family to me. Even on my days off customers will stop by to chat or ask for assistance, and I love it that way. Heinen’s always has and always will be an important part of my life.