British Icon WH Smith feels the expensive price to pay for poor customer experience

WH Smith published its third quarter earnings after it was voted worst shop on the high street by Which? 5 years in a row for its poor service, high prices and untidy shops. According to Intelenet Global Services in this fast-paced, hypercompetitive retail environment, customers expect a single brand experience across all channels.

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WHS Smith has cuts costs to offset continuous falling high street sales which has overshadowed focus on customer experience. High street sales dipped 1 per cent, but the retailer said profitability improved as it continued to reduce its costs.[1] According to Salesforce’s Connected Shopper Report, 75% consumers expect a consistent experience no matter where they engage with a retailer. Half are likely to switch brands if they feel a retailer cannot accurately anticipate their needs.

Rajnish Sharma, Market Leader for U.K & Europe at Intelenet Global Services, comments: “When it comes to overall customer experience, a retailer is being measured not only on the product, but also on access to customer support; attitude of staff to make customers feel valued, efficiency of resolving complaints and staff knowledge of products and services. Regardless of whether a customer is interacting with a brand from behind a screen, over the phone or in-person, customers want to get what they asked for with a minimal amount of effort and in the minimal amount of time.

“Despite the rise of online retailing, customers still expect an in-person service and human agents continue to play an influential role by being the face of the brand. How a staff member interacts with a customers will determine if they shop with you again.”

Rajnish continues: “Customer experience is essential for a brand survival, merging online and offline experiences, adoption of data and analytics and automation to restructure themselves to personalize service delivery to every customer. Retailers need to balance technology with the human touch. Chatbot technology gifts retailers with the ability to respond to a high volume of customer requests simultaneously, in real time and round-the-clock.”