Customer satisfaction should be every retailer’s goal

Tesco is lying on the operating table being viciously dissected by pundits to account for its <a href="http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/retail/news/tescos-woes-continue-as-sales-decline-deepens/4011712.article">decline in profit, market share and brand reputation</a> (and that’s without mentioning the overstated profits scandal that is causing this week’s crisis).

Even just looking through the lens of customer experience and satisfaction it’s pretty clear Tesco took its eye off the ball and failed to take account of customer wishes and changing trends – instead it focused purely on revenue and shareholder profit – and eventually in the world of retail that will lead to a sticky end.

Customer satisfaction scores are down across all sectors, according to chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service Jo Causon. At a presentation last week at the Abta Travel Convention she said that research across 13 different industry sectors, including retail, showed for four years customer satisfaction continued to grow but in the last 18 months it has started to fall quite quickly.

Causon puts it down to more knowledgeable and savvy customers and complacency among companies. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the top ranked company for customer satisfaction was John Lewis, followed by Amazon.

There are a couple of factors tying those two successful operators together. First there is personalisation, in Amazon’s case driven by technology and algorithms so that customers are recognised and served appropriate content/offers on visiting the website. And, as Middle England delightfully knows, John Lewis provides personal service in-store with attentive and helpful staff.

Second, there is the ease of doing business with said companies. This is a key component of delivering customer satisfaction in the modern, busy, time-pressed world. Are you making it easy for the potential or actual customer to buy your goods or services and what is the aftercare like? As Causon says, we are moving from “a transactional economy to a relationship economy” and if a retailer can’t adapt then it will be left behind.

John Lewis and Amazon are both high-scoring because they deal well with any problems – they offer easy return of goods and a smooth, seamless experience, or are at least seen to be trying.

Tesco is a behemoth and personalisation and ease of doing business are harder at scale but that’s where the supermarket’s focus should be – on the customer and how they experience the brand. With all the Clubcard data it has, it is a wonder that Tesco isn’t running rings around the competition in executing smart, targeted communications. To win over the consumer, the successful retailer of the future has no choice but to show it does know and care whom its customers are and that it can treat them as individuals.

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