Upsetting the Apple Cart

Waitrose in Bath is under fire, not because of a lack of quality, value and choice in their product range but because regular shoppers seeking to take advantage of a ‘free coffee’ offer are obliged to queue behind locally-based vagrants who enjoy the same benefit without actually buying anything. Add to this a generally poor coffee service and dinner party conversations can talk of nothing else!

Of course, the components of the problem are potentially complex and varied but the story provides a great illustration of the need to align customer touch-points so that all share and deliver the same vision of customer experience. As we have previously stated many times, customers experience service over time and will judge quality based upon their worst experience. Hence the loyalty created by a wide range of high quality, value-for-money products will be undermined by a poor experience in the coffee queue. It sounds ridiculous but its true! Alignment of ambition and delivery is critical.

The John Lewis Partnership operates a much-admired model but, as our small story illustrates, even their customer strategy can be well-meaning but flawed. Similarly, their preference for small gatherings of clipboard-wielding managers when faced with a ‘live’ problem brings accusations of a passive rather than a positive approach to problem-solving. Delivering quality on all fronts, all the time, is not easy and even the best may need to refresh their thinking and practices from time to time in order to build brand value.

If you recognise any of these challenges, please call either Stephen Grey or Martin Wright on 0845 8382 159.