A feature article in The Grocer has focused attention on the troubled times at Tesco. The article pulls no punches in criticising the management of Tesco for creating the present situation where profits are falling, but the source of the problem and the proposed answer is further investment in improved customer service.
Tesco has announced a ‘refresh’ programme of activities that includes hiring over 20,000 new employees, in particular getting those people out on the shopfloor.
Articles by ex-employees – like this one – should always be treated with a little caution. Those with an axe to grind find it easy to criticise once they are out of the company, but if criticism is applied fairly then it can use the constructive insight of someone who has been within the strategy meetings and in the stores.
It’s a fact that many grocery retailers are struggling to differentiate their offer – this problem does not apply to Tesco alone. The budget brands are seen as offering great prices and the quality of their product is good, or good enough. At the higher end where price is less of an issue other brands are doing well, but those in the middle need to find how they can take on the budget operators.
Treating the customer to a full-fledged experience where real butchers cut the meat, real bakers bake the bread, and the person stocking the wine shelves knows about Claret can be the magic ingredient.
Getting this improved in-store experience married up with the dot com side of the operation is another important factor today as more shoppers prefer a blend of online and offline shopping, but the fact remains that any retailer today that is not relying solely or price or prestige for business needs to ensure that their customer service is superb – it’s what customers expect today.
Photo by Jordi Martorell licensed under Creative Commons