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Definition: According to Jamier L. Scott. (2002), “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation”
“Customer service has also been defined as the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer’s expectations (want and needs)” by ACA Group.
2. Organizations background:
Waitrose is a chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom and the food division of the British retailer and worker co-operative the John Lewis Partnership. (History and achievements of Waitrose are attached in appendix 1).
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3. Introduction to Waitrose customer services principals and examples:
Waitrose has a very distinctive market place in the UK and Therefore, it is very obvious that Waitrose considers Customer Satisfaction which derived by great customer services provided within the premises or even outside (after sale services) and socio- cultural and environmental.
According to(Verdict Research year), Waitrose and its Parent company John Lewis stood first and second for providing the best Customer Satisfaction. Moreover, the company was on top in its consumer focused environmental ratings in the National Consumer Council’s.
4. Overall review about Waitrose customer satisfaction:
The above reviews about Waitrose seems that its very well known for their great Customer Services offered throughout UK and is an award winning Company for Customer Services for few years consecutively. As recently the year 2009 it was also termed as the
· UK’s favourite supermarket and
· UK’s top food retailer for customer service (UKCSI)
Thus, it’s understood that Waitrose has established a well known reputation for its best quality of Fair-trade and organic food (from Meat to Groceries to Dairy to Vegetables & Flowers to Bread and Baking) supplies, customer services and also for the after sales services provided.
Department under consideration is checkouts within Waitrose. At Waitrose within the checkout department comes along the sub-sections of Customer services Desk and Branch daily Delivery Services.
5. Waitrose stakeholders and its effects:
A customer service is most vital and primary factor affecting any organisation. It is also known as a micro environment aspect. This is due to the fact that it directly affects companies’ revenue adversely or favourably.
More factors which are influenced by an organisation performance are illustrated in the diagram below:
From the diagram above it clearly indicates that the organisations directly affect customers, suppliers, competitors, stakeholders and micro-environment (factors or elements in an organisation’s immediate area of operations that affect performance or decision making). It implies that the organisation’s performance and success is dependent on these factors directly and indirectly. On the other hand the other factors are namely economic, political, legal, environment, socio-cultural, technologies and macro environment (external and uncontrollable factors influencing the organization performance indirectly).
Therefore, Customer Services being a micro-environment factor, favourable and excellent Customer Service provided by Waitrose for instance customer like to shop where they are most valued and have the best quality which Waitrose provides. Hence, the outcome is a direct increase in demand of products inducing a rise in supply of products by suppliers of Waitrose and therefore defeating competitors and others.
Favourable Customer Services will also generate greater revenue which in turn will have a favourable effect on the stock exchange enhancing the situation of all its stakeholders etc.
Moreover, with more revenue earned by Waitrose they will definitely like to have the latest technologies available on the market in order to increase efficiency and meet up with time targets. This will attract more technological developments to happen as competitions are rising and vice versa.
Economically a rise in consumer spending and Suppliers Investments will definitely be call a “saviour” injection to the economy (specially under current circumstances of economic downturn that is faced actually) and this injection can utilised by Govt to increase their spending in investments or reduce debts (as actually company have huge debts owed by the UK) and vice versa.
Socially happy customers make a better society where people are not frustrated and not tired to look around for the particular products they are in need of. Otherwise for instance a frustrated customer who was enable to have a particular product and ends up not to even get a substitute as some of Waitrose product is “unique ” can result to no dinner cooked at night and the partner is also frustrated after a long day’s work. Hence, causing divorce and if they have children this will also cause lack of parental affection and attention leading to juvenile crimes.
Waitrose main aim is to increase profitability up to £8bn and owns at least 400 stores in the UK whilst retaining its very high standard of quality food and services supplied.
6. Organizations values and objectives:
The daily tasks of section manager and supervisors are outlined in appendix 2
But being supervisor I frequently noticed that company
· Don’t reach to targeted sales for the day or the week.
· Customer complaints has risen and there were situation that where the Cashiers performance was unprofessional and they showed no interest or consideration for the job they were doing.
· Standard was not met also as some complaints were made concerning the home delivery that is provided in the branch.
· At the customer services desk is sometime a queue as no one is there for the customer queries. Hence, the concerns in regard to these were growing.
So it was decided to approach manager in order to identify the factors due to these concerns are arising. Moreover, I also clearly mentioned that even under such economic climate that we all are enduring at the moment this should not affect company drastically as the main customers are not the middle class society but mainly the high class society.
After consulting Manager and highlighting the issues considering the Management philosophy that regards maximization of the interests of its all stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, and the community) as its highest objective. Its objective is to maximize this value by following policies that
(1) Minimize cost and waste while improving the quality of its products
(2) Enhance the skills and satisfaction of its employees, and
(3) Contribute to the development of the community from which it draws its resources and sustenance.
Conclusion drawn is to adopt the review /feedback approach from customers as they are the main source of income generators. Normally have various types of approaches are used for feedback e.g.
By open comments,
Focus groups and
Online feedback form
7. Designing and implementing an inquiry instrument and Benchmarking:
Waitrose decided to utilise the open comments, customer surveys and online customer surveys in order to ameliorate services rendered. After the deadline of handing or sending the surveys and open comments were recorded a meeting was called up.
This was each department where all the Sales advisors, cashiers, Supervisors and Section Managers met and were able to discuss and point out their views regarding the survey that was received and suggest any other ways to overcome the problems arising. Some of the other issues that were pointed out during that meeting were that staff rotation is quite a problem due to lack of proper awareness of other department knowledge, product knowledge is lacking, since many partners(Waitrose value their employees and give everyone a share of its profits annually) work on a part-time basis they hardly know what’s happening through the branch and majority of the partners are youngsters who just left University or are still at University and doing a part time job they easily get bored with the same routine.
The very outcome of that particular meeting was extremely satisfying as so many other issues were outlined and the Branch Manager was so delighted that he personally thanked us.
To overcome most of the issues with the best solution is to provide a proper training for Customer Care Services and to improve the approach from previously set Care Service plan.
So to implement a customer care plan a step by step process was adopted.
1. Firstly, to greet the customer
2. And then ask “how can I help you today?” (open questions to be asked )
3. After that indulge a conversation with the customer in order to lighten the space.
4. Hereafter, if the customer is looking for something that you know where it is take the customer to the product and hand it to the customer and ask if there is anything else in which help can be provided.
5. But if in case customer is taken to the product and there is none left; ask the customer to continue shopping and help will come to him/her after finding out whether there is any in the warehouse or when the next delivery is arriving.
6. For instance having checked it was told that none of the product is in store and it will take few days before it is delivered. Consequently look for the substitute of that particular product (might customer accept substitute product) and apologise nicely by explaining.
7. Finally to close the sale asks the customer if they would like any further assistance.
Moreover at Checkout tills when customer start queuing the Cashier should
Firstly acknowledge the customers and
Start by greeting the customer being served with a big smile and
Offer packing service if the customer is in need and cashier should ask if they would like recycle bags and then use its own initiative to give only bags required by customer only.
The products should be scanned at a certain speed not too slow as it can irritate the customer and not too fast as it might damage the products and put the customer under pressure.
After having scanned all the products (a general conversation is very welcome and is recommended if possible depending on the mood of the customers) the amount of the bill should be mentioned clearly and take their payment by thanking them and thank them again and greet goodbye or mostly recommended is have a lovely/nice day/ afternoon/ evening.
Since Waitrose constantly have offers, ask the cashiers to have a look at the offers leaflet to have an idea in case a customer forgets or did not notice.
Furthermore, a food illustrated magazine where recipes and others great things are found are free to customers who have an account with company only otherwise its payable. So at checkouts it is suggested that they ask the customers to show their account card which is a credit card as it also bears a cost to the company and it’s only a reward for those who have our credit card only.
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The dressing code of the cashiers are seldom undesirable as for the girls have their down n not tied up, lots of jewellery worn and make up and no proper shoes worn. Thus, a close supervision is kept in order to monitor the cashiers.
Moreover, to overcome the complaints of bruised fruits and vegetables and damaged products through our home delivery services plastic crates has been advised to be used in to keep the shopping bags and then to ensure that the customer does not miss their delivery time they are given a number which they can contact and update the assistant. This in turn does not delay other deliveries and time and fuel is not wasted also.
Wastage has recent risen according to new figures thus to reduce the figures Cashiers and Supervisors and even Section or Department Managers have been strictly told to put back any chilled or frozen products immediately if a customer does not want it or if seen on the shelf in order to keep up with the cold chain and decrease wastage.
Lastly, how to handle very angry customers which is to start by approaching them when they are coming towards you for a complaint as it will be very obvious from their body language and their face expression. After calmly listening to them, apologise for the cause that happened to him/her and mention that it will be dealt immediately and it will also be mentioned to the manager ensuring it will not happen again.
To enhance more development on customer services plan some other details which are important for the improvements is managers and staff relationship. Managers must be able to mingle with the different age categories assistant in order to break the gap that exists in between them by firstly greeting. Being friendly and indulging in conversations with them. As it is concern to the Branch Manager as soon as he starts he comes along the main line tills and basket tills to greet each and every Cahiers and then goes to other sections. Same applies to the department Managers who are in charge of two or even three section within the branch. This tightens the relationship between workers and mangers hence through once performance any manager can conclude if they are facing any personal or other problem at work itself and they are approached in a secret way. Moreover, keeping all the staff happy by being and giving them a fair and more realistic tea breaks or lunch times. This reinforces the relationship between manager and staffs. Hence, having built a great bond can result in gaining their approval easily for further commitments at anytime.
As it concerns to Supervisors and managers more frequent meeting are done in order to keep up-to-date with what is happening throughout the store.
8. Monitoring plans:
All the solution above was set in a video by few volunteered partners and a movie type was done in separate stages and made it as a training which was provided to each cashiers and every partners. Thereafter, it was followed by questions and answers and any question they got it wrong they had to watch the clip again and back to the questions again until they do get all question from a part they can move to the other. In this way they do remember how to deal and handle customers in a more professional way. This training is done more frequently now which are every three months and more awareness of the other departments also were provided during the training such that job rotation is not difficult and the monotone of performing the same task again and again is overcome.
Therefore, Supervisors are constantly having a close eye on the cashiers’ performance, dress code, time keeping and others. In order to monitor Cashiers performance on a regular basis a random check is done at least once a week where one of the supervisors is told to review the cashier without her/him knowing and then when all the cashiers are reviewed they are approached and discussion about their performance is dealt with. In case where someone needs extensive training or improvement a warning is given and their names appear in the book of poor performing advisors. They also are more often reviewed by the Supervisors. In this way all the cashiers are reviewed and if any other issues are bothering them they can approach their manager to discuss.
In order to be up-to-date with fast growing world, software require changes quite frequently and knowledge on new products or services has always to be up-to-date in order to meet our customer requirements and needs. Thus, these changes always require intensive training to changes but despite intensive training some of the team members always have difficulties to adjust. Thus, assisting them and monitoring them with a smile and kind attitude is reassuring for them.
Supervisors are strongly advised by the senior management to rotate staff from one department to another department. Hence enhancing their knowledge on the whole store, products and get to know each other. But it does happen that some of them work in the busiest hours and hardly have the chance to gain any other experience and to mingle with others. Therefore the job gets very monotonous and they are not concerned in delivering a high professional service.
Group of Supervisors assistants do some spot check on each cashier for the use of new software which is filed in their performance file that are retained in the office and consulted on and when there are any appraisals. Cashiers are also advised and encouraged to ask whenever they are not confident or sure of anything instead of doing huge mistakes. Likewise our requirements are met and our prestigious standard is kept high.
Whenever a customer does leave a compliment for any staff they are immediately approached by the section or department manager to be congratulated. Likewise this encourages others to achieve better and they are also rewarded by vouchers and a pay rise at the end of the year which reflects the effort and hard work put in throughout the entire year.
Going through such economic downturn nowadays there has been drastic rise in prices thus sales target are sometimes not met as people from the middle class are not able to shop at Waitrose. Thus we recommend staff to promote our own made brand products and they are kept along with the other branded substitutes and tickets are well labelled and emphasis is also made on the price. Further the Supervisors are strictly recommended to have an eye on the labels and ensure that they are correctly displayed otherwise this will cost the company as consumer will be rewarded to price reduction if wrong labelling.
According to the approaches available to overcome problems facing an organisation is
SWOT (Strength weakness Opportunities and Threats) which has been utilised and in order to make communication more effective they have created the newsletter now which is handed every month when payslips are handed. Partners nowadays are given a wider range of benefits by the partnership and the longer the partner has been in the partnership the more holidays, pension they are given, even gift vouchers, bonus shared and other numerous benefits mentioned in a Partner handbook (miss any opportunities at their disposition whether booking for holidays in UK or outside, leisure activities subsidized and so many more). Furthermore financial loans or season tickets are also at the disposal of each partner are given such that commitment from its staffs is gained.
Moreover to have a better environment for the customers, the premises undergone a full refurbishment and staff who are not willing to change according to our new requirements are either given chance to adapt by severe warning otherwise are sacked. Full time and part timer’s partner’s shifts breaks of are planned in a more fair way and any preferences noticed they are advised to report the Supervisor for discrimination.
Further Waitrose has always taken into consideration Corporate Social Responsibilities where it also founded The Waitrose Foundation in 2005 for the farm workers in South Africa and has the intention to extend to Ghana (fruit and vegetables) and Kenya (flowers) where the beneficiaries are the farmers who are assisted in areas like education health development and media. As it concern in the UK Community Matters has been established where £1000 is divided proportionally between the three nominated local organisations monthly and social activities are also arranged and partners do participate to support resulting to a significant impact of our community as a rise in juvenile crime has risen in UK. Diversification has been adopted by having more services online available has accommodated the need of very busy customers and also experts are at their hands to answer their queries but not instantly. Since most of the branded and organic products supplied by Waitrose are imported, so a rise in demand which has incurred over the years has contributed in raising the import figures affecting our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Recently there has been an increased by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2010.
GDP is the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports. As the percentage rise in consumption will be less than the percentage rise in imports in order to meet the needs and satisfaction of the consumers this will adversely affect our economy.
Human asset is not a reliable asset and has to be reviewed and refreshed all the time specially with ageing society that not only UK but the whole world is facing. Consequently, a slow labour workforce (full time workers) is determined. Therefore Waitrose should assess the performance more closely and make more redundancies.
Rising prices has contributed to a fall in consumption according to last few months. However to overcome the rising prices and imports prices Waitrose has widen their production of their own brand products which is better than other chain stores at competitive prices in order to compete on UK market. Such that its faithful and trustworthy customers are not lost but still it an be noticed that budgeted figures are seldom not met.
Further it has also been noticed that its competitors like Asda or Sainsbury’s are adopting the same Customer Service plan to some extent. Hence competition for survival and retain a larger share of the market is still hard despite having a diversified range and different ethnical products.
Lastly the increasing size and extension of store presence(convenient stores: smaller size store) on the UK market can be a threat to the other chain Supermarket, independent grocers and farmers’ markets as they are much well established organisation in regards to its quality food and nowadays its prices being more competitive. And also own the Royal Warranty for groceries, spirit and wines. Hence with all the innovative ideas and plans assembled on a regular basis Waitrose will remain the best food store in the UK.
Data was taken from following internet websites:
http://www.thestairway.co.uk/developing-strategy.html article by Sarah Cook, Stairway Consultancy Ltd
Francis Buttle, Customer Relationship Management, 2nd Edition, USA, McGraw-Hill.
K. Anderson and Carol kerr, 2002, Customer Relationship Management, USA, McGraw-Hill.
Morgan, C.T., King, R.A., Weisz, J.R., and Schopler, J. Introduction to Psychology. Singapore: McGraw-Hill.
Waitrose founded in 1904 by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor, Waitrose began as a small grocery store, ‘Waite. Rose & Taylor’, in Acton, West London In 1908, two years after David Taylor had left the business, the name “Waitrose” was adopted. Waitrose became the first major supermarket chain to sell organic food and to obtain a Royal Warranty to supply groceries, wines and spirits.
In 1955, the chain opened its first supermarket in Streatham, London and continued to expand throughout London by acquiring more stores from rivals like Somerfield, Safeways, Morrisons & Woolworths and adopting with its long term strategies it evolved into a national retailer since recently Waitrose also opened few branches in Dubai.
Nowadays, Waitrose owns 187 branches and has established a very distinctive market place in the UK as the TNS World panel reports that Waitrose currently has a 4% share of the food market up 0.1% from 2006, and additionally 18% and 10% share of the organic food and fish markets respectively.
Despite the fact that Waitrose is the Sixth Supermarket in the UK and owns fewer stores in it has made huge profits which are not only re-invested in buying new stores but also shared with all the employees as bonus share every year. The bonus share is a percentage of the total income earned throughout the year by the employee (calculated and agreed at the end of each year by the partnership).
Waitrose was first to introduce bag for life which a different type of shopping bag. This bag is more durable and can be used and re-used several times. It is an alternative to the single plastic or paper bags and can be recycled.
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