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  • Liz Whitaker

Lessons loud and clear from the High Street

What professional firms can learn from other sectors is a constant theme in The Power of Personal (see the rise of the customer experience job role on page 24, managing touchpoints in chapter 3 and reference to the value of positive people on the frontline page 45). Lots of reasons but the big one is that the businesses in those sectors are highly coveted clients and targets. What retail sector group wouldn’t like a few of the UK’s top 100 High Street brands on its client list? These brands will be looking to their professional advisers to, at the very least, replicate the shopping ‘experience’ they provide to their own customer/client base

So today’s report from the annual Which? High Street shops survey is a gift for anyone in professional firms trying to ensure this point receives the attention, and investment, it deserves. Click here to read more on the Which? website.

Top of the list are Richer Sounds, Rohan, John Lewis, Apple, Hotter Shoes, Lakeland, Toolstation, Bodycare, Crew and Screwfix. Some parallels.

“Shops with excellent customer service have come out on top and those with expert knowledge about their products do particularly well. Shoppers want a personalised experience when they visit a store.

Whether it’s a big-brand retailer or a smaller independent shop, those that go the extra mile for their customers will continue to stand out.”

We might have mentioned the value of a personalised experience quite a lot in The Power of Personal. The book’s fundamental, hopefully loud and clear, message is organisations selling high value services in highly competitive markets can use personalisation to achieve competitive advantage.

Shoppers also want value for money, a good store environment, reliability, an easy returns policy and trust around sorting out problems. Now translate that into the professional services environment because those ‘shoppers’ are the very same people buying corporate and private client services from professional services firms.

And customers who express high satisfaction levels will also recommend to a friend. Ha, so we also have ready and willing ambassadors (see page 144 in The Power of Personal on identifying, creating and managing ambassadors).

Rarely do we focus on the negative at Propella Global but this one is irresistible because it highlights the dangers of not listening.

Bottom of the list, for the second year is the hapless WH Smith with consumers complaining of unhelpful staff members, cramped and messy stores. I think they got off lightly. My experience is that the sales assistants (with the exception of one truly delightful sales assistant in WH Smith, Toddington North Services) are graduates from the School of Misery and, no, I don’t want a family pack of Galaxy Chocolate for £1. Anyhow, I digress …

What’s interesting is how, in the BBC coverage, they defend their ranking.

"This survey... is neither statistically relevant nor meaningful relative to our loyal customer base," a spokeswoman said.

I would have thought declining sales in the High Street division would have been the only measurement needed here.

So even though the message is loud and clear, they are still not listening.

Listen and listen big is a whopping part of The Power of Personal.

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