Here is a customer service quiz. Which leading retail Chairman recently said that the service you provide is more important that the product itself? His exact words were:
“The company that provides the best relationship with the customer will win — not through product, but through the best experience.”
It was Sir Richard Broadbent, the Chairman of Tesco responding to this blog about their store in Haggerston, in London. The blog has been written over several months and features photos of empty shelves and examples of terrible customer service. The author claims to be a fan of Tesco who is appalled by the way the local branch was being run.
The blog worked because the senior Tesco management have been shamed into doing something about the store. Sir Richard acknowledged that social media is now an important way for customers to send immediate feedback to company executives:
“Haggerston is what we are talking about. The world is becoming more volatile, things spread much more quickly, the groups that people trust have changed. We don’t defend problems, we tackle them. Any organisation has to be much more open, transparent, and responsive.”
Tesco hired a new team and the exact same blog that was negative about the brand has been reporting how good the ‘new improved’ store is.
This is a great example of a brand reacting quickly to what could have been seen as a crisis – many national media outlets had picked up on the blog and were running stories about Tesco based on the photos being published.
But it’s not just about the importance of reacting to a social media firestorm. Sir Richard has mentioned an absolute truth about retailing, that customers will shop where they feel valued, even if they can’t always get the product they want… rather than in a shop with the right range of products, but poor service.
In a world where feedback right up to the chairman is possible for any customer to achieve easily, this is a very important change to take notice of and it was brave of Tesco to directly take on their critics. With bloggers now praising their reaction, it seems like the best approach is always to provide great service – because that’s the next thing the bloggers will be writing about.
Photo by Nic Taylor licensed under Creative Commons