Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This is not just a Christmas rant... It's an M&S Christmas rant

Marks & SpencerImage via Wikipedia
I've just sent this to Marks & Spencer on one of those dreadful 'contact us' forms. No copy for my records generated by one of those things, of course. And I always worry they disappear into the bucket of zero response.

So I've grabbed it to paste here.

This is how it reads:

Please forward this to Stuart Rose (or Marc Bolland if he's in place yet)

I would appreciate a rapid acknowledgement of receipt because I hate forms like this (see the m&s site 'contact us' section) as a way to connect with any org.

I hate drop-down menus of subjects my email is meant to correspond to and I hate not knowing who I am addressing.

No doubt your IT people thought it a wise way to reduce spam.
It also reduces interaction with your customer. It is slow and not mobile-friendly (I am writing this at the point of inspiration - on my iPhone). You have made this harder than it need be and therefore retrict the flow of hugely valuable customer insight.

Clue: your IT department don't like volume. Turn them, not your customer away.

This kind of email 'form' also fails as I don't get a copy of my initial comms AND it discourages conversational dialogue and encourages lengthy missives more broadcast in nature (cite this very email!)

But I'm not emailing about this form, I'm emailing about your lost commercial opportunity revealed by my ordering Christmas Dinner from your company today.

To order, the customer can go online. But they can only print out the order form. Which must then be filled in by hand and taken to a participating M&S store.
Where it is then painstakingly transferred by a member of staff into your own computers. Taking a good 5 mins.
Why not allow the order process, complete with the taking of your 20% deposit, online? You could also book your pickup slot online (instead of this being scrawled on paper in the store).

So that would save you and your customers time. It would therefore extend the reach of each store ( and you closed our nearest one).

While I'll acknowledge that forcing me to visit your store to make the booking in person today resulted in the sale of a sandwich, I guess you'd beat the small profit on that by increasing the number of people who would order if they didn't have to/couldn't make the additional trip to the store.

But here's the one that blows my mind. You have the opportunity here to match supply to demand more perfectly than ever. Yet you limit the number of people you are willing to gain this perfect knowledge from by limiting the amount of 'pick up slots'.

That's crazy. Not only does each order mean 20% of the transaction in the bank in advance, it also means you could staff up to meet the precise predicted demand on pick up days.

So that's my bit of customer feedback for you. My bit. Imagine if you opened up your feedback channels to learn from everyone transacting with you, in real time, on their time, through their chosen channels, at their point of inspiration.

And when the penny drops, well let's talk:

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?