Positive customer experience is vital for growth

Fionnuala Carolan highlights why every single customer experience matters, particularly in a market as competitive as the Irish FMCG sector


Blog - Fionnuala Carolan

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18 June 2015

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I recently went to purchase a garden bench in a local hardware store. The bench was on show in the store with a price tag attached so I naturally assumed it was for sale. When I called to purchase it over the phone and organise delivery I was met with an unusual response. The guy told me to wait a minute while he checked with the manager to see if the bench was still for sale. He left me waiting for over five minutes on the phone and when he came back he said that they were not really interested in selling it because it was a showpiece in the shop and they would have to repaint another one to use in-store and they were, in fact too busy to do that. There was no apology, no suggestion as to how I might source another one and his manner was casual, bordering on rude. I was left staring at the phone in disbelief. Had they actually turned down the sale of a high value item because they literally couldn’t be bothered to replace it? It would seem so. Pretty astonishing stuff.

It made me think of all the hard working retailers I meet in my job and their huge commitment to instilling best practice and high standards of customer service across their businesses to try to differentiate them from their competitors. This incident struck a chord because I know how competitive business is these days and I genuinely thought that this kind of bad service disappeared with the Celtic Tiger. Suffice to say I won’t ever be going back and will tell anyone that asks, to avoid it at all costs.

Our cover story this month is an interview with Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave. The company announced this month that it was pulling out of the GB market by selling its Budgens and Londis brands to Booker. They openly admitted that they couldn’t get a grasp on that market because of its vastness and the lack of acquisition opportunities. Although drastically reducing its debt over the past few years, they decided that accepting Booker’s advances made sense if they were to really concentrate on the Irish market.

This will mean increased investment in the Irish business, which is already performing extremely well. The latest Kantar figures have shown that SuperValu holds 24.8%, falling just behind Tesco this month so the battle for dominance will continue. With market share this tight it means that retailers are watching prices keenly and changing them in response to competitors. What sets SuperValu apart is that it is the only retailer among the big three to consistently win new shoppers. Connecting with the customer is the only way to differentiate yourself from your competitor and Musgrave is very good at this. Its initiatives such as Good Food Karma and Musgrave Food Academy have had a positive impact and helped it consistently attract new customers.

Another interview in this month’s issue is with Malachy Hanberry, managing director of Eurospar. He outlines the huge investment they are making in the brand by implementing a whole new concept and much of it is around offering the customer a positive experience in-store. Perhaps my friend from the hardware store should take notes the next time he visits a SuperValu or Eurospar. He might learn a little something about retaining customers as opposed to repelling them, although I suspect it would go right over his head!

Fionnuala Carolan,


PS. I will be away on maternity leave from the end of this month. Gillian Hamill will be acting editor in my absence. You can contact her on gillianhamill@mediateam.ie or 01 2947776.



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