Waitrose work hard to lose customers

I have written before about the power of a brand and the loyalty it can create, but this too can go against the business. Customer care, quality of product and reliability are all terms the John Lewis group has worked hard to instil in the British public. The business has performed excellently against the general retail doom and gloom and managed to show that a partnership still has its place in corporate business.

Imagine my surprise therefore with Waitrose’s current abysmal track record in delivering against these expectations when it comes to home deliveries. As a big user of Ocado, we use them for the office deliveries of breakfast each week, I was keen to move that business over to Waitrose, because surely with their key values the service would be better? Well no. After weeks of trying to use them we are back with Ocado who seem to manage to deliver on time, don’t require signatures for delivery and don’t charge for products you haven’t received.

As a big fan of Waitrose, as I think many of their customers are, I was keen to ensure they had the feedback and improved their service. Unfortunately this has seemly fallen on deaf ears, and their service department seem keen to just give out £10 vouchers rather than actually fix the cause of the problems. For one getting drivers to call customers if there is a problem was an obvious oversight.

The problem is by trying to compete against Ocado, Waitrose have to deliver a high level of service. Couple this with their brand expectations and they should surely only be entering this market with the ambition to be the best – anything less than that is surely pointless? For me it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth because they would have been better to leave the deliveries to Ocado than damage their brand trying to compete.

It is the same again with other brands that move into new markets or services and fail to deliver on the expectations. Virgin is probably an obvious example as their performance with a number of services and products has tainted me against the brand, and hence group companies, from buying anything ‘Virgin’.

As the business mantra goes, it takes ages to acquire a customer but only seconds to loose one.

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