The dark side of retail

British electrical retailer Dixons has announced a huge investment in new adverts featuring the Darth Vader from Star Wars. The ads are aimed at drumming up business for the busy Christmas period and in particular fighting off competition from others in the High street, particularly John Lewis, a firm that has recently invested heavily in advertising to promote their own consumer electronics.

What is really interesting about the new advertising campaign is not the Star Wars content, or the amount being invested, but the fact that heavyweight retailers like Dixons and John Lewis are emphasising their customer service in TV adverts.

The theme of the Dixons ads is that the fearsome Darth Vader is inspecting the customer service teams at Dixons and only the best can go out to meet the public. It puts customer service right at the forefront of the battle between retailers, rather than price, or range, or any other measure they might typically use in TV adverts.

The reality at Dixons is that they base the bonus of shop-floor staff on customer satisfaction feedback, so they really have linked the bonus of the people meeting the public with the satisfaction of those customers.

Remuneration connected to satisfaction is very different to remuneration based on sales alone. This absolute focus on customer service at Dixons is commendable, but perhaps there is a bigger shift taking place in retail than just one retailer changing how bonuses are being paid?

We have been telling our customers for years that good customer service has an enormous value to your business. In the good times retailers can sell to anyone, but it’s fascinating to see that as it gets harder to extract money from the pocket of consumers in the shops, the retailers are now focusing in on customer satisfaction at their number one priority.

I expect this attitude to spread far beyond the electrical retailers alone. Customers are hard to find and harder to keep – great service that leaves a customer satisfied and happy about the experience is really the best approach, in good or tough economic times.
Meow Wars

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