John Lewis is no longer the exemplar in UK customer service. Amazon has stolen its place at the top of the list. It is precisely JL's inability to replicate its in store customer experience online which is costing it so dear.
See the top 50 here
In store they can control. Online, they lose control of the last few yards - the delivery. Tesco, it seems, has understood this - investing in training for its delivery van folk. They seem on the whole a cheery bunch (at least where I live), happy to be doing their job and representing the brand with real concern. They have understood where the human touch of brand interaction actually happens in an online transaction - on the doorstep.
Compare and contrast to a John Lewis delivery. Some great - some not. None controlled by the brand. The click and collect system seem to melt down at Christmas (a camera I went to pick up in store never arrived. Hours spent on the phone resulted in it finally being delivered to me at home. That came with a promise of a £20 goodwill refund. Checked my credit card statement only today (nearly a month later) and the refund never was made. Another phone call today should have remedied that - fingers crossed).
Some fragile deliveries have been slung over garden gates.
JL aren't alone in getting the less-the-perfect service from the delivery outfits they employ. But given the very high value they place on service they have to ask themselves if the gap in control of the customer experience they have opened up is too great.
Consistent customer experience has to drive through the entire journey. The last touch-point you can afford to scrimp on is the one where the customer physically interacts with the brand. Often, and increasingly, that's the delivery person.
Is Amazon perfect? No but more of its deliveries go right than anyone else's I try - and that is my experience of the brand and therefore the one I share with my peers.