Marks and Spenser drop the ball in spectacular fashion.
There is a clear point I wish to make which relates strongly to mindset and emotional intelligence but there needs to be a little context first.
This very morning, my good lady wife and I had the dubious pleasure of visiting a large local M&S store. Doing this only 3 days before Xmas might well be considered madness. We were expecting a reasonably pleasant experience however because, as my wife had pre-ordered and paid a deposit for all the required items back in early-October, it should have been a simple matter to collect, pay and return home. We had booked the earliest slot as well but, even then, a small amount of queuing was to be expected as the service appears to be much in demand.
Did all this happen as planned? Of course not. We were finally directed to the rear of the store and into a confusing queue snake system. We had our identity checked against the order which is a good thing then placed in another queue to collect our groceries. This is where it all ground to a halt. When we finally got to the grocery area, rather than find a complete box with our name, unique order number and groceries waiting for us, it turned out to be six or seven harassed staff valiantly trying their best to build our order from a pile of assorted groceries stacked in a chilled box behind them. The items did have some numerical ID codes but were not even stacked in numerical order. The staff had to disappear to the main stores to find missing items. It was a chaotic and broken system by 1000 hrs and the queue behind us had spilled out of the queue snake and onto the main shop floor. Riots may yet ensue. The staff were left to face the shoppers because managers were conspicuous by their absence and the one who was there refused to make eye contact with anyone. Whoever designed this system needs a reality check.
Contrast this with Tesco. We were anticipating a home delivery at 1100 hrs this morning. Given the build up of traffic we would not have been surprised to see it arrive much later than the midday upper limit. Not a problem on a day like this. Imagine how pleased we were when, as we pulled into the drive following out M&S debacle, the Tesco delivery pulled up on the drive at 1030 hrs and politely asked if we minded him arriving early.
The key point I want to make here is one of corporate and staff mindset.
Whilst we waited at M&S I was discussing the process and effects on the staff and customers with the friendly and helpful assistant. I asked her why they could not plan and implement a simple and effective customer experience system like the one Tesco and many others now provide.
This was the answer which shocked me, and it highlights why Tesco are winning and M&S are not:
“We can’t do a system like that – it wouldn’t work here – we’re a different kind of store.”
This is a completely limiting belief on the part of the assistant which is almost certainly echoed, supported and probably driven by the many layers of management above her.
Anyone and any organisation can do almost anything they want if they commit to it. M&S cannot change the weather, but they can certainly change and redesign a faulty chaotic system then implement it correctly. If this is indeed a systemic mindset throughout M&S, then they have a serious and chronic problem.
What they really mean here with the statement “we can’t do it” is they “don’t want to do it.” A corporate “can’t/won’t do” mindset in this instance leading to a chaotic and head in the sand operation with little regard for their customer experience or indeed that of their frontline staff. Profits are down? Hmmmmm?
Tesco, on the other hand, have a corporate “can do” attitude which appears wholly focused on improving customer experience and one which in turn generates more profits as well. Profits are up? Hmmmmm?
Tesco realise a good customer experience also results in word of mouth referrals and yet more advertising free growth. I tell everyone how good the delivery service is. This falls into the emotional intelligence quadrants of understanding others and managing relationships with others.
In this instance, M&S have failed to see that customer experience matters. We will chalk it up to experience and, no matter how tasty the food may be at M&S, we will not return next Xmas and we will not recommend anyone we know does it either. In my humble opinion, M&S management urgently need some EI awareness training and some process design skills.
Emotional intelligence and customer care often go hand in hand. Organisations can embrace this and so can we as individuals.