Tut tut, Tesco
If it’s not one supermarket chain dominating the news, it’s another.
In just a matter of weeks, we’ve heard that the discount giants were ‘struggling a lidl’ with customer loyalty, whilst Asdawere upsetting the masses by ditching some of their loose fresh produce.
Well, now it’s Tesco’s turn.
Thanks to a computer glitch, customers were up in arms across the UK earlier this week because their home deliveries have been cancelled at short notice, or hadn’t arrived as scheduled and couldn’t be rearranged.
According to a spokesperson for the grocery chain, somewhere in the region of 10% of customers were affected.
When they throw a figure like that out there, you know they are attempting to emphasise the fact that 10 is a fairly low percent.
And I suppose it is to some degree.
However, when you’re the UK’s largest online grocery retailer, 10% still relates to around 7,500 customers being left wanting.
And that’s based on 2015 figures. If their online sales have continued to increase at the same rate year on year, it’s more likely to be in the region of 10,500 customers who were sat at home twiddling their thumbs, waiting for groceries that never but in an appearance.
Of course, technical glitches do happen.
Just look at the British Airways palaver at the end of last month, when a computer crisis – the 6th glitch in a twelve-month period – grounded planes, took down the BA website for a couple of hours, left passengers stranded on the tarmac or in terminals and sent bags around the globe, without their owners.
The problem with computer chaos, of course, is that we live in a technical world. So, whilst you are busy fighting to get back up and running, the cyber space jungle drums are already beating, as customers take to social media to vent their frustration and slander your company’s name.
Of course, hiccups can’t be avoided; to err is human. And computers clearly can’t be relied upon to be efficient 100% of the time either.
Yes, companies can strive to ensure such problems are avoided in the first place but the primary focus perhaps ought to be on how to react if the proverbial does hit the fan.
Obviously, as in any crisis, communication is key.
That appeared to be British Airways’ biggest downfall. Many of those who took to social media to air their concerns were complaining that they’d be trying to reach out to customer services to no avail. Some newspaper reports claimed that the catastrophe not only confirmed “how the service standards of this national airline have deteriorated” but also that, in some respects, their reaction to the crisis “showed a chilling disregard for customers.”
Tesco seem to have fared a little better. As news of the online ordering calamity first broke, it appeared that customers were being compensated on a case by case basis, but only when they actually complained online (a ‘too little, too late’ knee jerk reaction, if ever there was one).
However, within an hour or two, reports instead claimed that everyone who had been affected would receive a £10 voucher by way of compensation.
Better than nothing, but none too helpful for those that had been waiting at home for their delivery and, instead, were left with no food in the fridge and perhaps even had to venture out to a physical store (which kind of defeats the object of being able to order online in the first place). And as for the poor souls waiting for their stash of booze and goodies to take to Glastonbury…
To be honest, I don’t quite know what the solution is for reaching out to consumers who have been affected by a technical problem: you’d assume that there was no means to get in touch with them if computer systems are down and all details are kept in an online folder. But still…
It’s imperative to have a back-up plan, whether it’s a computer back-up system that can be accessed in a moment of need, or even a good old-fashioned pen and paper file that hold customer details.
(Ok, perhaps this isn’t necessarily a feasible option when we’re talking about customers numbering thousands for the likes of Tesco and BA, but it’s definitely worth considering on a smaller scale.)
Because consumer loyalty can be lost in a heartbeat if you’re not willing to reach out as quickly as possible when things go wrong, ask for forgiveness and offer a genuine apology.
You should also place a lot of emphasis on customer feedback: when it comes to retention and loyalty, they are always right. Ask them for their thoughts and feelings and opinion on what could have been done better and what else could be done in the future to help overcome issues and prevent them turning their backs on your brand.
Once an issue has been fixed, don’t forget to follow up if feasibly possible: the customer will appreciate the fact that you genuinely seem to care.
Plus, of course, it’s important not to wait for something to go wrong until you start to build an army of loyal customers who will be less likely to turn their backs on your in moments of crisis.
Talk to The Monachie Project team today to discuss how we can work with you to understand your consumers and the emotive forces at play in your market.