Meeting their service promise, every step of the way…The Bread Shop, McDonalds and Easy Jet

I hope you are reading this blog in follow on from “Call that Service?!“… if not please have a quick look at that first as this is essentially “part 2″!

What does customer service really mean?

In “Call that service?!” I talked about how the best customer experiences, in the eyes of the customer, happens when the end to end service experience matched their expectation level. By end to end I mean the experience that extends beyond pure interaction with store staff – the customer’s expectation may be that a toy shop should have space for a double buggy, or that a clothing retailer should have all the size colour combinations available. These are still elements of service and should be considered as such because the customer likely won’t differentiate in their emotional response to how they are served face-to-face vs. how well the retailer was able to match their expectations!

Why keeping your service promise matters…

I’d like to recount 3 examples where I think retailers / service providers have got this right.

First of all Easy Jet:

Not a retailer, and not a business associated with great service, and that’s my point and why I wanted to start with them! Easy Jet have made it so explicitly clear that they are not going to give any “extras” that customers are not disappointed by their minimalist approach! Customers are told they get a flight, A 2 B, and they get it cheap because they will not get any of the “fluffy” stuff that they might find to be part of the deal with a higher cost provider. As a consumer you can chose to pay more and get a more luxury experience or pay less and get the basics. Certainly when you fly with easy jet you are not going to be disappointed by much, because they’ve promised nothing more than to transport you on an aircraft from A 2 B meeting the minimum requirements for safety. In fact, if you do get a friendly crew member who helps you with a particular need you’ll probably even be impressed!

Next, The Bread Shop.

Could you ever imagine being delighted about spending £4 on a loaf of bread that’s about £1.20 in the suupermarket bakery? If you consider the price elasticity here you’d probably not. That is where the value of exceptional service and experience comes in.

The bread shop have made a bold move. A small chain of tiny stores selling bread, cakes and pastries, there was no way they could compete on price with the supermarkets. So they compete on service. They have got the positioning right. From their store locations through to the way the product is presented, the whole experience is unique! Add to that a proportion of their retail space dedicated to offering a cafe experience (proper coffee served with you freshly baked pastry so you can enjoy it there and then) and there is no way that the supermarket can compete with them.

In The Bread Shop you pick up your old fashioned basket, collecting your purchases in an inspiring shop filled with wonderful baking aromas and beautiful products that are so well presented they look like they are worth every penny. And there it is – you’re hooked – you’ve probably paid £3 for the pleasure and £1 for the item, but as a customer are you feeling good when you leave? I expect so!

Finally, McDonalds.

I started my retail career on the McDonalds management training programme and to this day I tell people it was the best all round business training I have ever had! As customers too, we all know they are a good business (regardless of whether we actually like their product), and as a customer you know what you are getting. It is not in question that some stores have better management and as a result deliver faster and more efficient service, never seeming to have an item unavailable. Some are less effective. What is clear is their proposition and customer promise is understood by the millions who buy from them day in day out. In the most part a few lapses are tolerated because they deliver the promise consistently.

What are WOW! Moments in Customer Service?

First of all you should all know about the WOW! In customer service awards – if you don’t then visit http://www.thewowawards.co.uk/ to find out more.

Now I’ll recount my “WOW!”” moment at my local St Albans retail park McDonalds Store. It was a busy lunch time and I was anticipating queues (see blog “Queuing in Retail” ) as well as a wait for my fussy daughter’s bespoke burger! As it turned out there were no queues because the management had sufficient well trained crew on the tills and preparing food in the kitchen. There was no breakdown in service – the guy preparing fries was keeping pace with demand. I watched him. He was calm and collected, probably only about 17 years old! Nonetheless he was matching his production to demand, watching the customer flow, anticipating when to put the next basket of raw fries in to cook! This was proof to me that everyone on that shift has got the customer in mind in all of their actions, they are not just robotically completing a process.

Impressive – the food was hot, freshly prepared and presented well. This is exactly how I’d been trained so very many years ago – and I knew how hard it actually is to achieve to that standard with that level of demand.

So, they’d met my minimum requirements and I was satisfied. What was it that happened that made the difference then?

Simple. They all smiled! They were polite, considerate, predicted our needs and even held the door for us when we left. I felt “special” and valued as a customer. It wasn’t quite Gordon Ramsey’s; but that was about as good a job as McDonalds could do. I was so impressed I tweeted it and I am writing this.

Fact: When you impress and delight your customers they become your advocates.

So that’s it really, if you manage to delight customers look how inclined they are to rave about you… ! If you disappoint them? Well lets just say with access to social media they can share how unhappy they / how bad their experience was with thousands, maybe even millions (if you don’t believe me search for “American Airlines Guitar Song” on YouTube and see what a few disgruntled customers have share with just over 9.5 million others) of potential customers in no time at all! Then you’ve got the task of turning them around to deal with…

Lets hope this won’t happen to your retail business and that some of my ideas on what service is all about will have inspired you! I look forward to reading all your comments and thoughts on this blog!

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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