Customer service takes a backseat as retailers focus on price-cutting
Sainsbury’s Preliminary Results for the 52 weeks to 12 March 2016 show underlying profit and earnings per share are down this year versus last year.
Underlying Group sales were down on the previous year down from £26,122m to £25,829m. The next quarter, in particular, may show a further decline as Sainsbury’s takes some risks. CEO Mike Coupe says “The market is competitive, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. We believe we have the right strategy in place and are taking the right decisions to achieve our vision to be the most trusted retailer where people love to work and shop.”
But is Sainsbury’s making the right decisions? Tesco PLC’s Preliminary Results 2015/16 showed positive and improving like-for-like sales growth trends in all regions whereas Sainsbury’s showed a drop for the second year running so where does that leave Sainsbury’s? It achieved £225 million (2014/15: £140 million) of operational cost savings but has this backfired? Nectar points were halved in April of last year and in April this year it ended its “Brand Match” scheme, a move seen by customers as sneaky. Sainsbury’s said it was to concentrate on lowering prices but why it can’t still match prices at the same time so customers can be sure of cheaper prices remains a mystery. Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow – consumer blogger and author of “How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!” – says that customers want honesty, transparency and for supermarkets to listen and act and Sainsbury’s doesn’t appear to be doing this of late.
“Firstly reducing Nectar loyalty points in 2015 and abolishing Brand Match in 2016, customers may well be forgiven for thinking that Sainsbury’s is chasing profits through taking away benefits and not on its customers, who will ultimately bring in those profits. How it can say it is listening to customers when no customer I know said “please take away the benefits for being loyal” or “take away the Brand Match I will trust that your prices are low with no evidence” is beyond me.”
It would appear Coupe, may be following much maligned ex-Tesco CEO Phillip Clarke’s business model, with knee jerk reactions, not listening to customers and land grabbing (Argos/Home Retail Group acquisition). Coupe’s predecessor, Justin King, was known for listening to staff and customers and whilst Coupe may want to be putting his own stamp on Sainsbury’s it comes at a risk. Dave Lewis, the current Tesco CEO, has sold off Clarke’s expansion acquisitions and curtailed overseas plans. He has listened to customers, leading on food waste initiatives and getting rid of misleading deals. Whilst still having problems, such as the possible misleading of customers with fake farm names, Tesco appears to be going in the right direction, recently reporting figures that put them back in the black. However, Coupe may be following Clarke’s path in more than one way.
Oh hello, here for another Tesco story? Well, as followers of this blog know well, Tesco and me? Well we have history shall we say. 🙂 🙂 🙂 The very first blog post was complaining about Tesco. Then there was taking them to court, insects in rice, milk bottles versus cola bottles and then my opinion on why Clarke had to go. Then I met the new chappie, Dave Lewis. Liked him, he bought a hundred of my books (at full price, take that Amazon) for his board and most senior people (time will tell if I continue to like him, he hardly had a difficult act to follow and there’s so much to do) and he invited me back to meet some of the team and have lunch.
3 course meal cooked by the senior development chef Pat Clifford thank you very much, was very good indeed. Guess who was always the last to finish each course because they had the most to say?!
I know you don’t want to download the menu but that thing came up and I don’t know how to get rid of it!
Apparently I am one of Tesco’s most engaged (with them, I don’t have a collection of rings) customers. So who else has had so many dealings with Tesco? Oh, ah, hmmmm. Moving swiftly on….what a jolly nice day out. Couple of hours of giving my opinions again. Fabulous. Can’t remember half of what I said, but here are a few things, as I also shared what many of you complained to me about Tesco that are being/will be addressed…..
All those flipping pieces of paper and coupons you have at the till -- they are looking at trying to improve that.
Checkout assistants shouldn’t be asking us if we want carrier bags, just leave them there we aren’t going to take more than we need!
There may be very few of us who are this daft, but you know when you do your shopping online and you order 10 kg bags of carrots or 10 punnets of fruit when you meant 10 single pieces? Told them they need to have something that comes up, “Did you mean to do that?” You can either tell it yes you did thank you very much or cry out your much over used expletive of choice and correct it.
Told them that their triple chocolate cookies from the bakery are good but aren’t as good as Sainsbury’s.
Tell us why something is coming up as not in stock online and the system is suggesting you have this alternative, particularly when it is more expensive!
Wine by the case site as well as Tesco grocery site – don’t put bottles of wine that are out of stock in the offers. That. Really. Annoys me.
Going to be back to chat to the woman in charge of community stuff – too right that will be a few hours with both work hats on!
Sorting out the shelves, one of the most common complaints I hear about Tesco, stuff not on the shelves (or in the freezer)
Improve communications between the social media team and customer service
You’ll like this one. Customer opinions on new products. Did you know that no product goes on the shelves without a bunch of people of people testing and giving their opinions on it? No, nor did I. Did you know that they were looking for loads more people? No, nor did I. Would you ignore such a request? No, nor would I. So, instead of rambling on here even more than usual, I have asked Helen (no, not me I don’t write like that) to write a guest blog post. Coming soon a post about what is involved and how to get on the programme. You’re welcome 🙂
There was some other stuff but that’s commercially sensitive so you’ll have to wait 😛
The guide dog issue
Remember this story? The staff who told the woman she wasn’t allowed the guide dog in the store? Tesco was reported as having given £5,000 to charity and put training in place and that was it. I wasn’t going anywhere without addressing this story and as those of you who follow the blog know, I’m harsh but always fair. (I even thank Tesco in my book for providing such diabolical service which resulted in providing great material for the blog which gained so much interest it encouraged me to write the thing!)
Why on earth would you need to train someone that guide dogs are ok in stores? When the staff didn’t grow up in the UK and they have no knowledge or understanding of guide dogs (or hearing dogs etc.)
I was also going to go into one about how typical of Tesco it was to throw £5k at the problem and run away and why didn’t they buy a dog. Tesco has bought a puppy. It takes 50k from breeding through training to retirement to pay for a guide dog and they have done that. Due to be born in January I believe.
Gotta laugh -- the cheque for the books had been made payable to “The Complaining Cow”. Don’t actually have an account in that name… hands up all those hoping I don’t get paid so I take them to court again?
Who doesn’t love presents? Look what I was given to go home with --
Lots of the Tesco finest range but didn’t include my favourite chocolate truffles (ungrateful cow), included an 8 portion luxury Xmas pud (loathe! But OH very pleased) mince pies, chocolate, tea, nuts and cheesy bics.
So Tesco has won me over
How very dare you. I won’t stop complaining to Tesco until there is nothing left to complain about. And anyway the spies at Tesco said that I had tweeted Tesco 519 times. Think it’s slightly more than that now! Social media team has promised me this chocolate (they need to change those ball things to red though!) and alcohol when we reach a 1000 so that’s quite a few more complaints to go. And I leave you with one now. I was working late and tried to get link to those chocolate shoes and couldn’t. Black Friday early hours and couldn’t get onto the site. Sort it out Tesco.
Want to keep up to date on Tesco complaints, The Complaining Cow, tips on complaining, new consumer laws etc? Subscribe to the newsletter. You won’t be inundated, I only get round to sending one every few months!