Produce an Investigation Into How a Chosen Company Can Improve its Customer Service

Produce an Investigation Into How a Chosen Company Can Improve its Customer Service Essay Sample

For my coursework I have to produce an investigation into how a chosen company can improve its customer service. In my investigation I will:

* Identify and describe the different types of customers and their needs

* Identify and analyse the skills required in customer service.

* Account how the organisation chosen has incorporated consumer protection into its customer service policy.

* Describe how the organisation uses customer service to meet customer needs as well as strategic objectives.

The company which I have chosen to do an investigation on is Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s is a supermarket based around the U.K. Sainsbury’s has to deal with high competition from other supermarket such as, Asda, Safeway, Tesco and other companies. For this reason Sainsbury’s must offer something which the other supermarkets don’t, a way they can do this is to offer good customer service.

What is Customer Service?

Sainsbury’s main objective is to make a large profit, to do this they have to meet their objectives. There main objective is customer service, which deals with the satisfaction of the customer. It’s not enough for the customer to be ‘always right’ any more. He or she shouldn’t have to argue the case. Dazzling customer service is the only way to guarantee customer loyalty. Price competition and product promotion have a role to play, but the smartest companies are recognising that their greatest assets are their own people and their existing customers. When they work well together, business snowballs. Customer service can be anything to do with making sure the customer has a pleasant visit at the supermarket. A simple thing as showing a smile to customers or giving assistance can go a long way. Customer service is basically providing the customer with what they need and trying their best to keep them happy.

Sainsbury’s have thousands of visitors and so there is bound to be a diversity of customers. The main types of customers are divided into:

Regular Customers

Regular customers are customers who use the same supplier over and over again as they are used to purchasing products from there.

General Public

General Public customers are people who would want to purchase a particular good or service.

Passing Trade

Passing Trade customers are consumers who may come into a shop, just because they may be passing by and might be waiting to try a new supplier.

Probably the most important type of customer for Sainsbury’s is regular customers, which are customers who visit the supermakert on a regular basis. These customers are likely to be locals from around the area. There needs would be to provide honest pricing, and probably fresh food. They would aslo need quick checkout times, so they can get in and out of the supermarket quickly.

What are the businesses customer service objectives?

Sainsbury’s must have certain customer objectives, which need to be met. Making objectives make all the staff at Sainsbury’s know what they need to do to produce good customer service.

Sainsbury’s business customer services objectives are:

– Providing Fresh food

– Honest pricing

– Providing facilities for the disabled

– Providing a clean, hygienic and safe shopping environment

– Providing toilets/ baby changing area

– Friendly and helpful staff

– Quality products

– Quick checkouts

– Provide a wide range of products for the home

Sainsbury’s must provide their customers with fresh products such as, bread, milk and poultry. If they provided this then it would attract more customers, for example someone who enjoys fresh fish, would normally go to a fish market, which could be 20 minutes away from heir home, but if Sainsbury’s provided fresh fish then, the person wont need to visit the fish market and can buy it from Sainsbury’s.

Providing fair and honest pricing will attract more customers, beating their competitors’ price will sway more people towards their store and away from the competitors.

Disabled people would need adequate facilities to meet their needs, which can be disabled parking near to the premises, ramps for easy access to higher areas, and wider isles and doors to fit wheel chairs through.

Clean and safe environment will make the customer feel more secure about where they buy their products from. A supermarket with a filthy environment and slippery floors would make the customer think twice about coming, due to the danger of slipping and the thought of buying food from a store where hygiene is not up to standards, which can cause food poisoning.

A person who is carrying a baby would need to have a baby changing area to change the baby’s nappies etc.

Sainsbury’s have an objective to stay loyal and friendly to customers as possible, as a small ting as just giving a smile to a customer can go a long way in such a competitive environment.

To provide good customer service Sainsbury’s supply quality brand of food from leading food brands and, also have their own brand, which is of good quality. They have also started to sell products which are not related to food, and thing, which you will not necessarily find in a typical supermarket, such as clothes, CD’s, Games, books, Electrical appliances etc. This is good news for customers, as local and regular customers can buy these products from Sainsbury’s rather than making a long trip to the town centre such as, Harrow for example.

The most inconvenient thing for a customer after racking their goods up in a trolley is to wait in a long checkout. This can really frustrate customers, so supplying enough checkouts is vital to keep customer satisfaction high.

What are the skills and attributes the customer service staff need?

For Sainsbury’s to provide their customers with good customer service, their staff first and must have certain skills. These skills range from different sections in the supermarket. For example in the fresh fish section, the fish mongers must have the right skill to cut the fish in the right way, or in the way the customer asks.

In another section of the supermarket such as the bakery, staff must no the rules of hygiene, such as washing hands after going to the toilet and cleaning cooking instruments. Also they must learn how to make the breads, cakes etc, to perfection.

All staff especially those working with customers must show enthusiasm towards their work and show to the customer that they actually care. This would make them more approachable and more useful for customers.

Staff working at checkouts must know how to use the tills in a fast and efficient manner to speed up the checkout process. They must also know how to run credit cards and loyalty cards. Staffs which stack the shelves must do so in an organised manner, so it will be easier for customers to find a certain product. The cleaning crew at Sainsbury’s must be quick at cleaning up spillages and do their best to keep the store in a clean manner.

Staffs, who work with or in front of customers, must know the supermarket inside out, and know where the different sections are. A customer who visits the store for the first time may not know where to find a certain product, and so would ask the staff for assistance, and worst thing the customer wants to hear is that the member of staff does not know where it is. Therefore learning the map of the store is a must.

All the staff who work in Sainsbury’s must be attentive and caring towards customers, to as much as possible to make sure that the customer is getting what they need. This can be done by maybe asking people if they need help or assistance with anything.

The staffs also need good communication skills between fellow employees and customers, as the most successful relationship has good communication.

Customer service provided by Sainsbury’s

At Sainsbury’s one of their top priorities is to provide good customer service towards their customers. A way in which they have done this is by setting up a loyalty card called a Nectar card. This card basically works by using a point gaining system. This is extremely useful for regular shoppers, as the more products they buy and the more they spend the more points they gain. By gaining more points they have a chance of gaining free gifts complementary of Sainsbury’s. Doing such schemes will make more people want to shop at Sainsbury’s, and regular customers will feel good about receiving something back for visiting the shop.

The introduction of a Nectar card will attract more customers towards Sainsbury’s, and will award customer who show loyalty towards Sainsbury’s. A weakness could be that it can be costly to buy the gifts.

The nectar card is very affective and has shown to improve sale figures, and more people are visiting Sainsbury’s. It meets the customers’ needs because it shows loyalty towards them, by giving something back for shopping on a regular basis. The nectar card scheme can be improved by perhaps, advertising the card better and improve the gifts, or lower the points needed to gain a gift, as some people do not bother with scheme because they are not regular shoppers.

Sainsbury’s also provides disabled parking for those who are disabled. This parking is present near to the entrance of the premises, which makes it easier for the disabled person to access the supermarket. Along with disabled parking, Sainsbury’s also provide disabled toilets, which are specially built to suit the disabled; the toilet is bigger and easier for people in wheel chairs to manoeuvre around. Ramps are also present for those in wheel chairs to reach higher areas. Providing Disabled facilities would make disabled people feel as if they are not outcasts, and that that Sainsbury’s count them as important customers as well. Staffs at Sainsbury’s also work around the clock to make sure that all the customers are happy with the supermarket, a way in which they do this is by asking for any assistance, which would make the customer feel that they really care about there satisfaction.

A weakness for having disabled parking is that ordinary parking can sometimes be far from the premises and upset certain customers and sometimes when the car park is full and only disabled car parking is available then people who are not disabled cannot find parking. Also people who are not necessarily disabled sometimes park in a disabled spot. A way they can stop this by having staff checking around the car park making sure they do not do this. Also they have half of the car parking close to the premises disabled parking and the other normal parking, which can be accessed by people who are not disabled. Providing disabled toilets also means that they have to be maintained and so the work load for cleaners increase. Sainsbury’s can also provide extra disabled toilets, as usually there is only one, and if someone needs it when it is busy a queue will form, which can agitate customers.

For people carrying babies they need a place where they can change a babies nappy etc. all the time, so Sainsbury’s have baby changing facilities. This is ideal for people carrying toddlers, as it more convenient to change the baby there, than going all the way home to do it. The trolleys at Sainsbury’s also have a baby carrier, which makes it easier and more comfortable for shoppers carrying babies. Sometimes however the baby carrying trolley are taken up and so a way they can improve the situation is by having more baby carrying trolleys available. The isles at Sainsbury’s are also wider than normal to provide space for prams.

Wider isles can take up too much space and therefore Sainsbury’s may not be able to fit all the products they hoped they could. Also trolleys which have baby carriers can be more costly than ordinary ones, which can affect profit in a negative way.

Near top the entrance of the supermarket is a customer service desk, which deals with any complaints or queries a customer has. This is a good place where Sainsbury’s can get feed back from their customers. A customer may suggest any improvements which can be made etc. The customer service desk also deals with any refunds, in a case where the customer is not totally satisfied with their product they bought. If a customer knows that they can give back certain items then they will feel more secure about where they are buying their products from.

A weakness of this can be that not many people have any queries or problems, so people who work at that desk may not have much to do. People can also take advantage of the money back policy. For example a person may buy an electrical appliance to use for a day or so and then return it because they cannot afford it.

They can improve this by having a bell at the desk so when assistance is needed at the desk the customer simply presses the bell, and a member of staff will come and assist, which can save the employers time to do something more useful.

For good customer service a company must provide the customer with its utmost attention, which is what Sainsbury’s do. The staffs at Sainsbury’s are very attentive towards the customers, and ask for assistance if a person looks lost or looks like they need help. Another way Sainsbury’s have added an extra tick to their customer service is by using more checkouts, which speeds up the process of buying.

Having more checkouts can take up more room and add extra costs, which can also lower profit levels.

To improve customer service members of staff can help customers by help elderly people carry their bags. Sainsbury’s can also hire staff at checkouts to help customers pack their items in the bags.

How Sainsbury’s monitor its customer service

If Sainsbury’s know how good or bad their customer service is then they can make improvements where appropriate. Since they are in such a competitive market they must monitor regularly and act fast on anything which needs improving. Sainsbury’s is such a big company it will be hard to monitor the customer service in all the stores, but an easy and efficient way of doing this is to use mystery shoppers. This is basically when a researcher is paid to act as a normal customer and just shop around the store, looking for any improvements and commenting on what is good. The employers working at the store do not know who the mystery shopper is so results are accurate. This type of monitoring is done in every store of Sainsbury’s, and is a good way to get feedback on how well or bad their customer service is. If Sainsbury’s know where the cracks are in their customer service then they can mend it, so knowing what can be improved is vital. A mystery shopper can notify Sainsbury’s about the following:

* How they are greeted by staff

* How promptly they are dealt with

* The knowledge of the staff

* The staffs selling skills

* The appearance of the branch

* The quality of facilities

* Hygiene standards

Since Sainsbury’s deal with a wide range of customers they can choose different types of mystery shoppers, which can improve accuracy of results and a perspective from different types of customers making the results less bias. For example they hire a mystery shopper acting as a mother with children, the mother then can check the baby changing facilities and other service provided by Sainsbury’s for people carrying babies. They would also use a disabled mystery shopper, who will test the disabled facilities such as the toilet, and they can know if areas are not as accessible to the disabled. The mystery shopper can also point out which member of staff shows good attentiveness and those who don’t care less. Sainsbury’s can then act on the members of staff who do well by perhaps, praising them, and try to make the members who are not so interested in the job care more, or make a decision to let them go.

Another way Sainsbury’s monitor their customer service is to ask random customers to fill in a quick questionnaire, which can give customers to voice their opinion on the store.

Advantages

Disadvantages

* The mystery shopper can determine where each area of employment needs training and developing.

* Mystery shoppers can help monitor whether customers are having all their needs met through the employees.

* Asking customers questionnaires can give back accurate feedback.

* The employees may feel that their trust has been deceived.

* The mystery shopper cannot judge every employer and therefore not every employer will be assessed.

* Customers do not like their time wasted with by answering questionnaires.

What improvements can be made to the businesses customer service?

Although Sainsbury’s have a pretty good customer service already there is always room for improvement. Improving the current customer service can make customers feel more satisfied and at the same time attract new customers. A way in which they can improve customer service is to improve checkout times, which is the customers’ main problem with supermarkets. They can do this by opening up more checkouts and making staff help pack the customers shopping, which will speed the process of checking out greatly. This is done by using the ‘scan and pack’ method, where the member of staff packs the first 3 items and the last three, or Sainsbury’s can hire extra staff to pack the customers items. This would improve customer satisfaction and therefore the customers will stay happy.

Sainsbury’s have a wide range of different customers, and one the type is those with babies. Shopping with a crying baby can be annoying, and so a good service Sainsbury’s can provide is a children play area, which would be supervised by the Sainsbury’s staff. This would also make children look forward to shopping at Sainsbury’s as they know they will have a fun time, and the mothers will know that they can shop around without any worries. This in turn will increase the number of shoppers, which will in turn increase profit levels, and since no other supermarket does this they will have an edge over their competitors.

Sainsbury’s should also considering increasing the number of toilets, as there is usually only 1 cubicle for ladies, gentlemen and disabled. A problem this can cause is queuing, which is the last thing a customer wants if they really need to go. This will again improve customer satisfaction and therefore people will want to come back again, which means that Sainsbury’s will have more regular customers.

Another way Sainsbury’s can improve customer service, is by helping elderly people carry there shopping into the cars, which elderly people may find too heavy to lift. This will increase the loyalty levels towards customers, who will be more satisfied with the level of service.

The most obvious way to increase customer service would be to lower prices of the products soled. I believe that price wise Sainsbury’s are behind their competitors such as Asda, whose’ prices are the lowest. Sainsbury’s can perhaps deduct prices on all goods by maybe 10-20p, which will attract more customers towards Sainsbury’s as the customer knows they are getting a good deal. The increase in the number of shoppers will increase profit margins, but not as much because the prices of products soled have been reduced.

Legislation within Sainsbury’s

There is a legal minefield to be overcome when it comes to customer services and customer protection. There are several acts of parliament within the UK, and many other EU legislations and directives. In addition to the UK parliament laying down the legislations they must also make sure that they are implemented. In the past, the principles of caveat emptor “let the buyer be aware” used to apply to all business transactions. This meant that if a product was found to be faulty or unsuitable there was nothing the buyer could do.

The industrial revolution in the middle of the 18th century began to change the goods and services available for the consumer to buy. The invention of new processes brought more and more goods onto the markets and soon it became possible for any one person to be able to judge the quality of goods available as there were now other goods on the market which would allow the consumer to compare the quality of goods in the market place.

This eventually gave rise to the changing of the phrase caveat emptor to caveat vendor, “Let the seller be aware”. And the government began to enforce it’s previously past legislations and started to make the sellers in the market place adhere to these laws.

In today’s society the legal responsibilities and obligations of the seller to the buyer are clearly laid down by the government in their laws.

This all gives rise to everyday contracts being made between the buyer’s and sellers in every circumstance. A contract can be defined as a legally binding agreement between two parties. Both parties have clearly defined responsibilities in contracts and commercial/private transactions.

Some consumer protection legislations include;

> Sales of Goods Act (SGA)1979

> Sale and Supply of Goods (SSGA) 1994

> Supply of Goods and Services Act (SGSA) 1982

> Consumer Protection Act 1987

> Data Protection Act (DPS) 1984

Sales of Goods Act (SGA) 1979

This act is for organisations to have the right to sell products. If products are sold illegally then SGA will make sure that the customers are given the full amount of money back.

Sale and Supply of Goods (SSGA) 1994

This act is used for companies that have products that have a ‘satisfactory quality’, enough to be sold in shops.

Goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for any purpose. It is the seller, not the manufacture is responsible for the Act.

Supply of Goods and Services Act (SGSA) 1982

This act is aimed mainly at the providers of any service, it is agreed in the contract that the providers have to carry out a good service.

Consumer Protection Act 1987

This act is aimed at the liability of the product; the safety of the customers and pricing that could be misleading.

This Act provides a boundary where it is a criminal offence for producers to supply goods, which may be faulty or unsafe.

The Act states the rules for governing the use of such terms as ‘Sale prices’, ‘Reduced price’ and bargain offer prices reduced in this way must be genuine offers.

Data Protection Act (DPS) 1984

This deals with the collection, storage and destroying of personal data.

It keeps personal information held by organisations on computer file and paper records secure. Every time a form is filled in by a consumer from a business or a customer you can be sure that all personal details will be used for marketing purposes only or customer orders.

The problem for the consumer about the information held is that it may be incorrect

or misleading.

Conclusion

After doing an investigation on the customer service at Sainsbury’s I have learnt the different types of customers which Sainsbury’s have and their different needs. I have learnt the different objectives, which Sainsbury’s try to meet in order to create good customer service, and how Sainsbury’s monitor their customer service. After looking at Sainsbury’s I can see that Sainsbury’s have a pretty good customer service, but it can be improved in certain areas, such as price etc.

Customer Service Questionnaire

To find out how the customers at Sainsbury’s found the customer service I did a survey, asking 25 random customers at Sainsbury’s the results were as follows:

1.) Are happy are you with the current customer service at Sainsbury’s?

2.) On a scale of 1-10 how happy are you with the checkout times? 10 being the best and 1 being the poorest.

3.) Are you happy with the fresh food?

4.) On a scale of 1-10 how helpful are the staff at Sainsbury’s? 10 being the best, and 1 being the poorest.

5.) Which of the following would you want to be improved at Sainsbury’s in relation to customer service?

a.) Car Park b.) Price

c.) Checkouts d.) Quality of products

Example of nectar card

Examples of Disabled Toilets

Example of disabled parking

Example of baby carrying trolleys

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