Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things Are Improving Over at the Fresh & Easy Corporate Blog: Perhaps They've Been Listening to Us?

On January 21, we wrote this piece, "Click, Click!: Who's Minding the Fresh & Easy Corporate Blog?" In the piece, we noted how infrequently Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market corporate marketing director Simon Uwins and his marketing staff post in the corporate blog they created as a marketing and communications tool for the small-format grocery stores prior to the first stores' opening in November, 2007.

We likened proper maintenance (frequent posting of quality information) of a corporate blog to proper maintenance of a retail store, in that websites and corporate blogs are an electronic extension (or electronic storefront) in many ways of a retailer's brick-and-mortar stores. And, just like poorly maintained stores, infrequently updated corporate blogs can actually be a negative for a retailer rather than a positive.

Then, a couple weeks after our January 21 piece, we started to notice more frequent Fresh & Easy corporate blog posts in February. The electronic storefront seemed to be starting to be better maintained.

As a result, we wrote this piece, "It Looks Like Somebody is Minding the Fresh & Easy Corporate Blog a Bit Better of Late," on February 14, in which we noted the fact we were seeing more frequent (and better) posts on the Fresh & Easy corporate blog by Mr. Uwins and/or his marketing staffers. In this piece and in our original January 21 piece, we suggested at least one post, once a week, should be the minimum for the F&E corporate blog.

Between late February and early March we were a bit saddened to see that once again the blog posting frequency started to revert to the old ways--weeks passing without a post and poor quality posts. In fact, we even considered another "Click, Click" piece on the topic.

However, things started to improve on March 18. Between March 18 and March 28, the Fresh & Easy corporate blog has had four posts: one on March 18, another on March 21, a third post on March 28, and the most recent on March 28. That even beats our suggested minimum of at least one post per-week. It seems Spring is coming in like a lion over at the Fresh & Easy corporate blog. Congratulations.

We've also noticed a new aspect to Mr. Uwins' and staff's blog posts. They're now quoting what bloggers are saying in some cases about their experiences (only the good ones of course) at and with Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery stores.

Since this is something we started doing in December, 2007 (and continue to do today), the very first month we began publishing Fresh & Easy Buzz, we obviously like it. [Just don't use our megaphone graphic please.] Most specifically, we created a feature called "Vox Populi: The People and Bloggers Speak on Fresh & Easy" many months ago, which we use to bring our readers consumer and blogger opinions on the small-format, convenience-oriented Fresh & Easy grocery stores.

If Mr. Uwins and company got the idea from Fresh & Easy Buzz, we're fine with it. [it's good to know the blog is being read.] If they didn't, it's still a good addition. After all, it isn't an uncommon practice in the blogesphere. Of course, in our "Vox Populi" we will continue to bring a balance of the positive and less-positive consumer (and blogger) opinions and posts about Fresh & Easy stores and operations.

So, we tip our organic cotton, Fair Trade hats to Mr. Uwins and company for a good mid-to-late March in terms of better maintenance of the Fresh & Easy corporate blog. As we argued in our January and February "Click, Click" pieces, a corporate blog--like a retail grocery store--is part of the whole of a retailer's operations, customer service and marketing strategies and practices. Further, just like with a store, if a company lets the electronic communications storefront of its business lie fallow, it will hurt that retailer's customer service reputation.

We've noticed more--and more positive--comments on the Fresh & Easy corporate blog since the posts have been more frequent. That's no accident. More frequent and better quality communications leads to a better perception of customer service, both at the brick and mortar store level and with a marketing and communication tool like a corporate blog.

We suggest Mr. Uwins and company not let March come in like a lion, but then allow April (in corporate blog terms) go out like a lamb (infrequent posts). After all, it's a customer service issue. And the improvements are already being noted.

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