Page 4: The importance of customer service research
Homebase places much emphasis on customer service. To improve this, it is essential to have a clear picture of what customers expect. There are two main types of customer research.
This involves collecting information from an appropriate sample of shoppers to find out what their views are about Homebase and the customer service that it offers. An important source is a postal survey which Homebase conducts amongst a sample of Spend & Save loyalty card holders. This is done three times a year to gauge satisfaction with, and loyalty to, Homebase.
The survey allows Homebase to monitor satisfaction over time and highlight any areas that may be causing customers problems. Homebase is then able to analyse the frequency of problems relating to store customer service, and other details such as product range and delivery service.
This typically involves smaller scale research about values and views rather than hard facts. For example, qualitative research involves interviewing small groups of customers to find out what their views are of customer service at Homebase.
Another, important approach which uses both qualitative and quantitative analysis is the Mystery Shopping Programme. Homebase conducts a monthly programme of mystery shopping. All stores are measured on three key areas.
1. Store standards: Presentation of the store and its staff.
- Is the store well maintained?
- Does the store make it easy for customers to shop?
- Are sufficient staff available to help?
- Are staff approachable?
2.Enquiry service: Are colleagues offering the right level of service to customers if they have a query?
- Do staff members greet customers?
- Do they take customers to the relevant aisle?
- Do they stay with customers until they have what they need?
3.Goodbye and lasting impressions: Do customers leave with a strong impression?
- Are sufficient tills open to fulfill demand?
- Are customers greeted in a friendly manner?
- Is the transaction processed smoothly?
The Mystery Shopping Programme is a key tool for stores to use to improve the service they offer to customers. Scores achieved by a store also act as the trigger for the Homebase Retail Staff Award; a quarterly bonus scheme paid to store staff achieving certain criteria. Additionally they count towards the management annual bonus scheme.
Using a range of research tools to find out about customer satisfaction is important to Homebase. For example, different Mystery Shoppers will visit stores over a period of time and the results will be compared. In addition the results of customer surveys can be compared and contrasted with the results provided by Mystery Shopper Reports.