Marks & Spencer: Listen to your customers and care for your carriers!
As one of the most well-known retailers in the world, Marks & Spencer operates a super-brand that needs to be nursed continuously, by putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. At #NDC17, Clothing and Home Logistics Manager James Doyle shared insights on how to do this.
Marks & Spencer has a heritage dating back to the 1880s and the UK-based company has been a traditional department store retailer with 979 stores in the UK and 454 internationally. However, recently the company has moved towards a position as a true omnichannel retailer with an online department store offering anything from apparel to home supplies, food and flowers.
The retailer has invested heavily in shops, packaging design, development of online platform, e.g. website and apps for mobile as well as tablets, also including logistics, most recently in 2014 with the opening of a huge, highly automated distribution center in Castle Donington, UK. All done with the customers’ needs and wants in focus.
Listen to your customer
James Doyle, Clothing and Home Logistics Manager explains: “How do we put the customers at the heart of what we do? First, we need to listen to them to understand what the customers want and what they actually need”. At M&S, this is done through the Customer Insight Unit, collecting data directly from shoppers, both at M&S and other places. However, on a smaller scale, social media and other online platforms are also great source of customer insight. Previously, in the age of the physical store, this was not as readily available, but today, most businesses have the possibility of listening to their customers and Doyle states that customers are quite happy to share, especially when something goes wrong. As Doyle says “Every time we fail, it is an opportunity to learn”.
Control, Communication and Convenience
And what do the Marks & Spencer customers want when it comes to their online shopping and delivery experience? According to Doyle, there are three things to be aware of: Control, Communication and Convenience.
Firstly, the customer needs to feel in control during the entire shopping experience in order to eliminate anxiety and subsequent basket abandonment. At M&S this was addressed through redesigning the look and feel of the website. However, customers still felt disengaged due to lack of communication. Doyle said: “After you click buy, then what? It goes into the ether and they have no idea what’s happened to their parcel”.
According to Doyle, the way to avoid anxiety through the delivery process is by communicating clearly, offering customers relevant and timely information, either from the retailers themselves or the carriers through track & trace and notifications. This will keep the customer in the loop and make it possible to preempt anxiety when something goes wrong, e.g. a delay of delivery.
And lastly, retailers need to present customers with convenient, relevant options for delivery allowing them to have their parcels delivered where they want, how they want and when they want. “How do you find out what is relevant to your customers? By listening to the data”, Doyle explains.
Be kind to your carriers!
However, he underlines one important point, if retailers are to perform pro-active customer service: keep a close relationship with carriers. “Caring for your carriers, that’s really important. These guys are the guys that are going out to your customers, delivering to YOUR customers and make that final 3 feet, that engagement, that special moment. The carriers are the guys that are going to do that”. By saying so, Doyle suggests taking a holistic approach to the shopping experience, not only looking at one’s own business set up, but the entire value chain including suppliers, hereunder carriers as they also represent the brand towards the customer.
“Do you think there are enough services from the carriers out there right now? The truth is I don’t know, but if you read the data and you listen to the customers and get under it, then you will have a glimpse of what they want maybe just in time to give it to them”, James Doyle concludes.