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I’m not here to throw bouquets, but neither am I going to throw brickbats, but I want to ask HOW GOOD IS THE SERVICE OF YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE?


The difference between on-line shopping and retail!


We’re crying out for togetherness at present and we’re asking for it.


And it’s the same with shopping.  Give people a reason to shop in-store and mostly they will.  Online is convenient, however I believe most people would opt to shop in person and with great old-fashioned customer service – that we mostly used to get.


‘On-line’ shopping has its place, and is worthwhile.  However, I believe people want an ‘experience’ when they shop, and that is mostly about ‘customer service’ – which is abysmal and keeps declining.  No wonder people shop on-line.  Managers or owners of stores, you only have yourselves to blame.  Training your people or yourself to be exceptional to customers when they come in the store is a trait that is lost.  Oh yes I can hear you say, ‘but customers are so rude these days.’  I agree, some are.  That means they are not your ideal customer – get rid of them, and fast!


People want to be able to have social interaction because that’s what we humans are made to do.  Interact with each other, talk and communicate with each other.  While I don’t agree with the ‘Raves” that are happening, around the country, – I understand it.  People want connectedness.


Small retail must give this exceptional service or people will continue to vote with their feet and not come back, and go on-line instead.  I would have thought with this pandemic shop owners would be falling over themselves to give great service.  Sadly, this does not seem to be the case and Business owners and Managers wonder why they are missing out to on-line services.  Conglomerates like the Supermarkets and banks are large and just ‘don’t care’.  (I’m not talking about staff here either – because I have seen some who are great but hamstrung by the culture they are in) The conglomerates tell us what we want, or what they think we need, without actually consulting us.  We have to use them, as we have no real choice.  When a disrupter does enter the market, they wonder why people flock there.  The answer is on their doorstep but it appears they choose not to open their eyes.


I also loved reading the article, in The Sunday Times by James Timpson – C.E.O. of Timpson Group.  You may want to sit down for this, because what he has done and said is pretty radical – here goes….”The best way to understand the impact of Covid-19 in our 2,100 shops was to get out and talk to those who serve customers and put money in the till.”

For goodness sake how radical and inspiring is that!  A C.E.O. is actually talking with his staff, not behind a Boardroom table, but actually getting out and talking with them.  What a breath of fresh air to read that.   I know from personal experience just how good the staff at my local Timpson’s are in my home town.  And this comes from the top.  James goes on to say, ‘ …staff  saw coming back to work as positive…. they missed the customers, they liked being busy, and wanted to help the company get back on its feet.’  That’s a business culture that values integrity and ethics, and gives a great customer experience.   (No doubt there will be some anomalies by some Timpson store owners, but let’s not be concerned about the minority)


The Sunday Times had a great article written by Sam Chambers about the on-line war between Waitrose. M & S and Ocado.  Get a handle on this, “Storing, sorting and transporting everything from ice cream to nail polish, then delivering it within a one-hour window, is a huge logistical challenge for supermarkets, while the intensity of the competition stops them from raising delivery charges to a level that generates any meaningful profit”

So, you’re competing on price.  That’s a model that is set to fail!  Who wins in a price war – no-one, because it is unsustainable.  Whatever happened to value and customer service so you have the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell?

And yes, on-line has its place, I won’t deny that, but may I ask, how long is this competition on price a sustainable model.


Bringing people back to the supermarket or the ‘High Street’ will only happen if people are given exceptional customer service.  Not token service.

Sam Chambers continues, “None of the Supermarkets has outlined a successful long-term strategy for on-line.  They keep throwing people at the solution, but it decreases their profitability.”


Really!   Customers are telling you – Give us customer service, and we’ll shop with you.  People want to be treated with respect and valued as customers.  But because C.E.O.’s are driven for the profitability to make the shareholders happy, it impacts on staffing and the retail experience.


Profit needs to be foremost for every business.   But is shouldn’t be at the expense of your most valued resource – your staff and your customers, and possibly in that order.  BUT – and this is the BIG BUT – business owners are so entrenched with making the most money they can, that they are losing money!


Most big business owners are astute and very bright people who have been to University and worked in a variety of high-profile positions before their current position.  However somewhere along the way they lose sight of the fact of why the Business was set up.  To make a profit AND also create a shopping experience that makes people want to return, so they spend more with you.   Many C.E.O.’s seem far removed from this reality.

But they’re missing a trick – what do people really want in their shopping experience?

It’s value,

a smile,

enough staff to help them

well trained and knowledgeable staff



Stop chasing the dollar and look after your customer and you will probably make more dollars.  This possibly could be a new experience for some businesses.

It’s about plain old-fashioned customer service.  That will only happen if your staff are trained to a high degree and espouse and live and breathe the values and vision you have for your business.


Businesses could then be in danger of making more money and bringing people back to your business, and then you can let your well-trained staff give great value by offering an up-sell and cross-sell.  McDonalds set the benchmark and are the masters at this. “Do you want fries with that” is a constant refrain instore.  Seven out of 10 customers, say ‘no thanks.’  However, three in every 10 say yes, which equated to millions of dollars in extra revenue for McDonalds.  On-line can’t do this up-sell or cross sell and this is why human interaction in a retail environment is so important.  It also gives the Business Owner and their staff the opportunity to find out the real problem customers have, that needs solving.  This interaction and asking questions is fundamentally the lifeblood of any business wanting to make even more money.  And that is with Supermarkets as well.  People will buy differently, if shown and given the opportunity.  On-line cannot give this experience. Doesn’t it seem reasonable then to want to have people back in your store or your shop?  The opportunity costs in having a customer in your store or shop are immense.   It gives the Business owner the ability to add to their bottom line.  His only happens if you live and breathe your core values, such as customer service, and making a difference to the sales exchange.   Something on-line can’t achieve.


In sales, there must be a fair value exchange, for both parties for everyone to feel the exchange was fair and equitable.  In a face to face shopping environment this is an opportunity that can happen.  This factor alone is so important when something goes wrong with the transaction and the item needs to be returned or replaced.  The shopper can return to the retail store and talk with someone there – a real person, face to face.  We have all had experiences of trying to return items on-line to a faceless person for a refund!



What happened to value where people walked out of the store feeling happy with the purchase and feeling as though they had been looked after, valued the experience and vowed to tell other people of their experience and want to return to be served again by that person in the store.   People value people and human interactions.

Online has its place and it’s a great tool for every business and to have in the back pocket but On-line shopping cannot give that human experience and we are the poorer for it.