Supermarkets, love them or hate them, most of us use them. Most of us have opinions about them all too. I surveyed the public and found these top five hates of supermarkets:
- Rude staff particularly those talking to colleagues when they should be paying attention to the customer
- Companies not accepting responsibility – ‘we are sorry, how can we put this right’ not lame excuses or blaming customer
- Staff who don’t know what they sell or how things work
- Change dumped into your hands with screwed up notes and receipt to follow
There are no surprises here. People just want good service and all these issues relate to the ethos of the company and how well the staff are trained. Interestingly, all the issues that people rate the highest are related to service, not quality, products or prices.
So do prices and quality of food feature when we look at specific supermarkets? Here’s what the public thought, in summary:
|Supermarket||The best thing||The worst thing|
|Asda||Prices||Customer service including the desk not being open when the store is|
|Waitrose||Quality of food and range that you can’t get in other supermarkets||Overpriced items that you can buy much more cheaplyer in other supermarkets|
|Sainsbury’s||Quality of food||Cost and the Nectar scheme|
|Morrisons||Quality of food||Overpriced and shelves often empty of offers|
|Tesco||Clubcard||Variable quality on food products|
|Aldi||Value for money||Disorganisation in clogging up aisles and not enough staff on checkouts|
|Lidl||Good fruit and veg||Having to watch “best before” dates as products may often be past these|
Supermarkets were given the opportunity to respond to these findings. Here are the supermarket responses:
An Asda spokesperson said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and listening to their feedback is what drives us on to do better every day. We’re grateful for this feedback and will continue to work hard to deliver even better prices, quality and service for our customers.”
A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We work to offer consistently good value, which we firmly believe is a balance between provenance, quality and price.”
Sainsbury’s did not provide any comment
Morrisons did not provide any comment
A Tesco spokesperson said: “Clubcard is a great way for us to say thank you to our customers for choosing to shop with us, and we know it’s something they really value. It remains one of the biggest reasons why people switch to shop at Tesco.”
An Aldi spokesperson said: “Our customers regularly tell us that they shop with Aldi for everyday low prices and an enjoyable shopping experience. Our efficient business model means our checkouts are 40% quicker than other supermarkets, which reduces queues and requires fewer staff, saving our customers both time and money.”
A Lidl spokesperson said: “We are proud to have unique measures in place to help reduce food waste in the home. This includes choosing not to print a ‘best before date’ on many of our fruit and vegetable items, instead opting to print a code showing the date that the product was packaged. By not having a ‘best before date’ on certain products, it allows the individual customer to assess the fruit or vegetable product by sight and feel, judging for themselves if it is to their liking.”
For 6 out of 7 supermarkets price and quality was the best thing about individual supermarkets. For 4 out of 7 supermarkets, price and/or variable quality of products was an issue and for 3 out of 7 it was the quality of service.
Rewards are clearly becoming more important to customers. Tesco leads the way in this area with its Clubcard, offering the most points per pound and variety of how to spend them. In comparison Sainsbury’s reduced their points value on Nectar in April last year, with fewer choices to spend them on. This clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed by customers, given that is cited as the best thing about Tesco and the worst about Sainsbury’s.
Consumers are flocking to the discounters, which do not offer the same range as other supermarkets, so people will not completely stop using larger ones and discounters may need to look at more expansion of their product ranges. Supermarkets need to offer something over and above price. Price wars will have to end eventually and for supermarkets at the cheaper end of the market service is clearly an issue.
Marcus Williamson – editor of the website CEOemail.com which provides contact details for CEOs – says “The number of people seeking contact details for the CEOs of supermarkets is still alarmingly high. This suggests problems with customer services which could be resolved by better training and by empowering staff to make a difference.”
It’s clear that prices and quality form an important part of why people shop at a certain store but it doesn’t stop them complaining about service nor does it stop people shopping around once prices settle down across the sector. The rise of collect and delivery services will need to also rise to the challenge of providing good customer service.
Shopping habits are changing and service will have to improve dramatically if supermarkets are to retain existing customers and gain new customers.