How to Balance Employee Engagement while Maintaining Excellent Customer Service

Sauble Trading Post    October 5, 2014

Kim Head SHot
Organization Name: Sauble Trading Post – Ice Cream Parlour and General Store
Industry: Tourism Sector Retail
Name of Contact: Kim Mizen, Owner and CFO
Web References:

There is nothing I hate more than going into a store to buy something and being served by a store clerk that is too busy chatting on their cell phone to provide decent customer service.

Fast forward to today – I am researching the merits of encouraging my own staff to engage in social media to help improve the performance of my business. The Sauble Trading Post is a small retail store on the shores of Lake Huron. The business was built in the 1930’s and has maintained its historic charm for over 80 years, serving as a community centre for day trippers and cottagers in South Sauble Beach. We established our first on-line presence with a Facebook page in 2013. Now, we are trying to determine how to balance employee engagement in social media while maintaining the high standards established for delivering excellent customer service and performing daily store jobs.

During our busy season, we see a new customer every thirty seconds. How do I balance the requirements of running a small business with the opportunity to engage staff in social media on behalf of the business? The Sauble Trading Post employs seven students between the ages of 15 and 20. All of the staff have a personal cell phone. Part of me is excited about unleashing the potential of my young staff, but the other part of me is hesitant to encourage a team of teenagers to be constantly connected to social media while on the job.

Between serving a high volume of customers, my staff is expected to shine ice cream coolers, replenish coffee station, face the product shelves, polish windows, sweep floors, take out trash, etc. I am concerned with introducing social media as a job task, and risk of getting the “in-store” work done. Will this become a distraction that will interfere with our customer service and completion of daily tasks?

I consulted my nine year old son…my resident expert on technology! He said, “Mom, all the staff know the Facebook password. It only takes two seconds for them to take a photo, write something nice about the weather or a new flavour of ice cream. They can do it in no time flat.” “Ok” I said, “then how do I keep them from spending all day talking on the cell phone and facebooking with their friends?” “Oh mom, you just set up a schedule. Give one person the job of doing the facebook updates every day.”

Well, that seems like a great idea. I think I will look at social media as an opportunity in the summer of 2015. I will set up the schedule with the staff interested in contributing to our social media strategy, outline some guidelines for posting content on-line, map out the subjects to cover and trust my staff to represent my business on-line as well as they do in my store.

Our bricks and mortar will continue to resemble the old-time general store of the 1930s, and we will create an on-line presence to meet the expectations of the present and future. It is up to my generation to encourage young employees of today and give them guidance on how to use their social media skills responsibly in small business.  My hope is to help influence their social media conscience in my small business and prepare these young minds to make positive social media contributions when they begin their adult careers in Corporate Canada.  (Past Sauble Trading Post staff currently work for: National Grocers, Bruce Power, Grey Bruce Regional Health Services, Black and MacDonald, etc.)

Please share successful approaches you are using to engage employees in small business social media.

Web references:

5 Ways Strategic Social Media Can Help Small Businesses

Adidas Group Social Media Guidelines

Sauble Trading Post – the one and only employee posting in 2014 – we have a way to go!

YouTube video of “Sauble Sunset”in front of Sauble Trading Post by AnjelRocker (4 min).

Submitted By: Kim Mizen, Sauble Trading Post
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