Much to be gained from sharpening up on service

I find shopping an irksome task and much prefer being behind the till taking money rather than in front spending it.

Peter Seabrook
Peter Seabrook

Please do not missunderstand. I am more than ready to pay, if someone else makes it easy for me.

On a recent Sunday morning my daughter ordered some bed linen for us from John Lewis and it arrived, delivered to my door the next afternoon.  Now that is what I call satisfactory shopping. It was in stark contrast to a telephone call to one of the major supermarkets, to complain about a £400 non delivery only to be told; "I am going to our Christmas party and will see to it tomorrow!"

Four and a half years on the road as a salesman quickly taught me that customers have to be looked after and if you look after them well they usually look after you. The late Jim Strike, a very shrewd retailer of the old school told me; "There is no point asking a member of staff to do something if you do not ask them later, have they done it, and keep on asking until it is done".   He found they soon learnt it was easier to do the bidding straight away rather than repeatedly answer negatively.

Former garden centre operator Roger Dungey was surprised recently to be greeted by a member of staff at the door of Homebase and asked if they could help.  Roger deferred but a few yards into the store was greeted by another member of staff offering help.  Surprised by this level of service he asked what was going on, only to be told that from 10-00am to 4-00pm all staff did nothing but serve customers.

Some retailers it appears are waking up to the very competitive times in which we live and realising they have to sharpen up on service.  While most are attracted by a low price, it is of note that QVC, the television shopping channel, has just been voted the second most trusted brand after John Lewis - and QVC can hardly be accused of being cheap.

The answer in 2014 could well be upping the service and the price to cover the cost of it.

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