Your Opinion Counts

customerserviceOn Saturday just gone we were taking a trip out down to Suffolk and on route popped into Focus DIY to pick up a can of wood stain to finish off the spring clean of our garden furniture. Probably excessive info but hey just setting the scene.

So we went to go through the till and there as a bit of a queue and so as one does my eyes were wondering and I spotted a ‘comments’ box on the other side near the exit and next to it was a stand and written in big letters was ‘Your Opinion Counts’.

Nice touch I thought. I don’t think feedback forms are the best way to engage your customer base but they are ‘a’ way and the facility for anonymous feedback and providing forms certainly is a step in the right direction.

However. On closer inspection I could hardly believe my eyes. Oh by the way there was only one guy on checkout and he was getting really flustered because no one was coming to help. To give him credit he was really apologetic to everyone and his flustering had caught my attention away from the feedback stand.

So here’s what I saw:

I took the photo and yes, there’s no forms in it!  What’s the point and what sort of message does that send out? When I got home decided to write to Focus DIY to tell them MY opinion about there opinion collection idea. I wont relay the whole letter but here are some excerpts from it:

So tell me this.

  1. Does my opinion really count?
  2. Is this the best idea you could come up with to collect opinions?
  3. Do you know how people share their opinions these days?

You see the irony is that my opinion does count doesn’t it and I think you get that. After all I’m the man who spends his hard earned money in your store. ‘Me’ being not just me the consumer but me your customer base (although often I am literally the only one in there). And so making my experience of shopping in your store the best it can be is absolutely vital, isn’t it?

So what is better I ask. No feedback facility at all or a feedback facility that isn’t operational because no one could be bothered to fill it with forms? The impression I’m left with is that no one really cares. It’s meaningless would you not agree? If you (the brand) really thought my opinion counted then every individual in that store would take ownership and check that the forms were stocked up wouldn’t they?

….

PS The checkout guy was very courteous and apologetic about the queue. It didn’t bother me as we were third but I bet it bothered the customers who were 10 + back. Of course they couldn’t give their opinion could they but judging by their faces as we left I have a fairly good idea what it was.

I’ve addressed the letter to Bill Grimsey, the CEO of Focus DIY as I think he would like to know these things and I’m quite sure if anyone values his customers opinion then it has to be the CEO right?

If you want to read the full letter then it’s  here

As I said in the letter I’m not angered by this despite my passive aggressive tone. I’m frustrated. Frustrated that big British (often struggling) brands continue to not get what it means to engage with their customer base and still expect them to come and spend money.

What are your opinions on my opinion? Do you think the bigger the chain the worse their service or customer care is? Do you think the above is just a symptom of this?

Gary

I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

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43 Comments

  1. This is a fantastic blog about your experience with Focus DIY. Sad to say this experience is replicated up and down the country, day in, day out. I had a similarly negative experience in Tesco just this weekend.

    I would have to say that in my experience, small businesses care more about what you have to say, and I find you have more opportunity to talk to them about it.

    One example I could give is a small B&B I stayed in called The Bridge Cafe in Brecon. I would recommend this place to anyone; the couple who own it have developed their business ethos around their own ethics and attitude, and as such they really care about their customers’ experience and go to lengths to protect the quality of it throughout. I can’t say I felt the same the last time I stayed in a Travelodge though!

  2. I’ve just come in from a trip to HSBC – one cashier on at lunchtime another woman pratting about offering “to show people how to use the machines”
    “Just put more than one person on the counter” someone suggested. No response from woman who flitted smartly back behind closed doors.
    All ten people in the queue said how much they hated, yes *hated* their banking experiences and yes, there were some leaflets in a rack that said “We’re listening”. But they’re not. Not at all.

  3. I wonder whos job it is to fill the feedback form kiosk?

    Should you be a worried customer bearing in mind the thing was empty! If I were a manager there I would make sure it was full!!

    Surely an empty “feedback” AKA “complaints” box would suggest alot of complaints?

    Lets face it were not the quickest to pat someone on the back for doing well.

    Having said that, about 10 years ago I bought some Floormaster flooring from B&Q. After a short discussion with my partner about how well it had done having had 4 kids and various dinners thrown on it and drinks spilt I thought to my self I’d tell B&Q how satisfied I was with their product & what a fantastic purchase it was. after scouring their website for a feedback button I gave up. I’m still keen to let them know how well its done but i’m not going loose any sleep over not doing so!

    Andy

  4. Andy got there ahead of me – feedback form dispenser empty = lots of feedback – since people rarely take time to give positive feedback it suggests lots of complaints …or a deliberate policy to deter complaints.

    I feel for the lone employee on the till who fields the flack while incompetent managers lurk in secure offices. As mentioned elsewhere, I worked in McDonald’s 27 years ago and there was always a floor manager on hand to ensure customers were treated well and that there were always sufficient staff on the tills to serve every customer within (I think) 2 minutes. Don’t know if it’s still the case but back then McDonald’s led the way in good customer service.

    Interesting comment from Anne – the woman directing you to the auto-cashiers is just doing her job – the whole policy is to make you a de-facto employee – serving yourself for free (machines don’t need pensions or other benefits – maintenance is outsourced). In banks it’s not about service but about time and motion management (disguised as TQM – but rarely anything to do with the quality of the service except to make it more efficient, in terms of costing less, which means more impersonal).

    How many of those 10 people standing angrily in the queue did the sensible thing – of filling in a complaints form and then moving their account to another bank? I bet you not one even so much as seriously considered it. Instead they probably complained to the woman who had no power to put someone on the tills or complained to the lone cashier – who is even more powerless than the customer.

    If you want to complain, direct your complaint to the person who matters and who can really do something about it – ask for the manager, get their name and then explain that you will be writing to their ultimate boss – the CEO (copy in the non-execs if you feel that strongly).

    When I complained to Tiscali about their service (and the difficulty I was having closing my account) – I wrote to Charles Dunston and various other senior executives of the main holding company – worked wonders – got a personal response in 24 hours and my account was closed immediately as requested.

    Whatever you do – don’t waste time contacting the complaints department – they are paid to deflect complaints (and protect the company) not resolve issues to the satisfaction of the customer.

    Cheers – and have a nice day :-)
    Huw

  5. I knew ‘of’ Bill Grimsey when he was running Iceland…I rest my case.

  6. Quick Follow up:

    I had the regional controller (responsible for 17 stores) on the phone today for a chat, nice chat too. At first he was a bit on the defensive assuming I was moaning about something but I was quick to point out I had no real complaints I was just highlighting a failure.

    We had a good chat and I felt he understood my points and took them on board. At the store in question they’ve now removed the empty stand and making sure it stays full is being addressed.

    He said they get a good range of feedback both good and bad and it’s always taken on board, I felt he was sincere about this. I commented that it was good that people take the time to give positive feedback.

  7. focus till op

    dear gary

    you clearly have nothing better to do then complain….and spend your time writing letters that will never be replyed too…because your an idiot….

    this store is now in administration not because of its hard working staff that try there best to please the likes of you but because of the people who sit on there arses and run this country….

    how do you expect the store you were in….to put extra people on tills when there all running about the store for you? helping you with something? takeing something to your car? showing you were something is because you carnt be arsed to look?

    next time you visit a store that hopefully will still be open maybe i will put a form up asking how ungreatfull customers are that visit our store

    you will be top of the list!

  8. I’m with you 100%…it’s not always a complaint, simply some feedback that we want to give companies. We recently had a weird experience with a Toby Carvery while on holiday in that the staff and managers were rowing in front of us yet the service and food were fine. I emailed them and to the manager’s credit she phoned me to ask my opinions and we talked about it and how I felt as a customer. Exactly as you said, I just wanted them to know how I felt, not complain.
    My feeling is that if more companies listened to these constructive bits of criticism then less of them would be having the administrators in!

    • Hi,

      I used to work for a contractor for M&B (owners of toby brand) and they really do have a strong policy on customer satisfaction.

      The target boards back of house for check backs, clenliness and general customer care are plentiful!

      Interestingly most of the schemes are lead by staff insentives such as extra holidays, spa’s etc.

      Perhaps other companies should “focus” more on this.

      Andy

  9. @Focus Till Op

    Honestly, I’m not sure how you expect to be taken seriously with so many spelling and grammatical errors but that’s by the by.

    I simply cannot believe your attitude. Suffice to say it’s absolutely no wonder your store is in administration when their staff, such as yourself, hold their customers in such low regard that they believe they should feel lucky that their local FocusDIY is even open and willing to take their money.

    You seem to neglect the fact that the people who you serve in store are your customers. They pay your wages. You should do everything you can to keep them, including but not limited to, identifying areas for improvement within the store.

    And as for Gary, we all know he likes to be critical from time to time of poor experiences he’s had – but as a successful businessman of many years, and one that makes many a good observation about digital and customer service, you’d do well to listen to and heed his advice rather than take it the wrong way and reply in an offensive, and aggressive, manner.

    @Gary – I think Mr FocusDIY Op has just answered all your questions about store customer service in one comment!

  10. Yes, I agree with the previous posts, mentioning the sad state of customer service. I agree with Ann regarding the banks employing people to tell you to use automatic tills and asking if they can help me. I too asked if they would not better serve the customers if they were behind one of the glass-fronted service points, but was told that they are there to help. The same stupidity is in supermarkets too, I refuse to use the self-service tills until they allow me a discount for doing so.

    Telephone service is another of my bugbears too. Lots of companies, councils etc say that their customer service standards are that they answer the telephone within two rings or what-ever. I was answered by a machine after two rings but was held in a queue for 15 minutes before I gave up and this was calling Nottinghamshire County Council, Council Tax office. What can we do about these things? Very little.

    I love the reply from an ex-worker though, anyone on here like to offer him/her a job?

  11. Oh and another thing :)

    I was amazed when visiting Gary a little while ago and a DIY store was mentioned that he even said “Focus”. it was like being told Jamie and his magic torch was being re-run!

    There used to be one near us and how on earth the company lasted as long as it has is truly amazing. The only memory I have of that store is tumble weed where the stock should of been and most of the staff gathered at the front door smoking!

    All staff are to a differing degree responsible for the success or failure of a company. Employers in such difficult times need commitment from their staff and to their brand. Theres no such thing as a day job any more.

    perhaps employees of failed companies should ask themselves did they give 100% for their employer, or just turn up and do “the day job”.

    Great blog Gary

    Andy

  12. SaffronKate

    Very interesting comments – but don’t knock the Focus worker – naturally they are upset, even if it’s with the wrong person. And if the tears in their eyes don’t allow them to see the keyboard properly no need to criticise their spelling.

    Re-read their comment & hear their pain – that is what working in a dysfunctional system is like. Rancid & corrosive.

    “It’s the system” – and people work IN the system; it’s the manager’s job to work ON the system, with the people’s help.

    And feedback allows them to do just that . . . If they’re listening.

  13. Dear focus till op.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I understand you must be angry that your employers can’t run a business and secure your job. Had you read the letter fully you’d see that I was trying to assist your employers in running their business better. They have failed you, not I, the humble customer.

    You are there to serve us and I am here to serve my customers. Serving customers is not a natural skill. It takes time to develop and training and there’s every possibility that your employers have not provided you with the right training in order for you to understand what good customer service is.

    I’m sorry that you’ve potentially lost your job, it sucks pure and simple. However, once the dust settles (there are 4 stages of grief, anger being the first) I hope your outlook is more positive and you’ll take this little knock as one of life’s lessons and carry on like many of us have and be successful in life.

    PS I’m interested to know how you found the article?

    Thanks

    Gary

  14. Focus Store Manager

    Hi Gary

    As i am from the same region as this store I am well aware of your letter and your view of how our stores are managed, hopefully you feel so much better for writing your letter and for your conversation with my regional manager.

    Over the past couple of days I have read with interest many people’s opinion’s on my employers plight, some very positive and supportive and i have to say quite a few which i can only describe as insulting.

    Many customer’s seem to think that they are qualified to comment on how to manage a retail establishment, Yes we all know what an ideal retail store should look and run like but in reality it is not always possible to deliver.

    What you so called experts do not understand is that ensuring that our opinion counts box have forms by the side is well down our pecking order of priority’s, not because your opinion does not matter but we have the following to worry about

    Mounting’s of stock to go out
    Store presentation to maintain
    1000′s of price changes to do weekly
    POS (retail term) galore to put out, some replacing what we placed out the day before
    Fantasy plan’s to produce to keep the hierachy happy
    Gap walk process
    Perpetual inventory counts to complete
    General adminastration

    Health and Safety and Trading Standard’s to maintain

    Targets galore to achieve( and you do not dare miss them…or else!)

    Poor till operator’s targetted to sell add on’s, sign up discount card holders, not surprising we have queue’s

    Plus lots of other bit and pieces

    Of course we have a massive team of colleagues available to achieve all these requirement’s, i hear you say……. well if you call 21 members of staff sufficient then your as diluded as the higher management of this once great business(i’m talking of 10 years ago)

    I am sure that once the GSM of this store had receievd his latest ear bashing from the regional controller, triggered of course from your very well constucted letter he regretted his oversight.

    All i ask as a retail manager is that instead of jumping to conclusion’s about how a individual store is managed or whether the staff care, you give us an opportunity to correct the issue before writing to the CEO knowing what this will lead to for the store.

    I do not agree with anything that Focus till oparator said and how he said it, it certainly does not help us as retailers.

    I have managed many stores for Focus DIY and I have found on the whole the colleagues hard hard working and do there best under the circumstances, if you want someone to blame then should aim your comments to the directors of the company.

    • All Focus stores seem to have suffered from the same problems, which can only lead me to assume a failure from the top has caused its demise.
      I have been in numerous branches where there has only been one till open, with queues, and very few staff in attendance elsewhere. There always seem to be a couple of them outside smoking though.
      It is a problem which is replicated across quite a few other companies as well – perhaps they ought to heed the warning that customer service has to be the top priority in order to maintain sales.
      One further thought; has anybody else noticed the poor spelling used by Focus staff in these letters?

      • Focus Store Manager

        Hi Rab

        I thought you made some really valid comments until i read your last sentance.

        What the hell does our spelling ability’s have to do with anything, you make it sound that this could of lead to the downfall of the business.

        I worked bloody hard from the age of 16 and have spent my entire career of 23 years getting to know my trade, i did not arrive at management level with my English degree pretending to know it all!

        It’s comment’s like yours that stop people like me from using these blogs, if it wasn’t for the fact i feel so passionate about my career that i bothered

    • Hi Store Manager.

      Firstly thanks for stopping by an taking the time to comment, much appreciated.

      Not sure I feel any better following the letter & call. I feel I raised a valid point in some vain hope that those that can invoke change would do so but it was a big ask. I get why that HO got the area manager to call me as some kind of customer appeasing exercise but as you may of touched on his premise for calling was to solve a complaint not to listen to advice / a frustration about how vendors interact with their customers effectively.

      I don’t pretend to be an expert on retail nor qualified to run a store (if such a qualification exists) however great customer service and engagement I can do and understand that it’s what customers want whether it’s Bob the butcher in the high street or a big store like Focus. I also understand what it means for retailers to engage with their customers, it’s one of the core themes of this blog. What I often say and this is the benchmark really is ‘If I ran my business like that I wouldn’t have a business to run’.

      Had I thought the problem was solely localised to that store then I’d have no issue raising it there but do you think it was? You kind of answer the question with the info you’ve provided in your comment. I’m willing to bet there’s plenty of form slots that are empty because as you say it is ‘well down the pecking order’. You’ll see elsewhere on this blog that I blame board level decisions for the state that customer service is in at a shop floor level. However I wonder if that is simply driven by shareholders greed for dividends which comes back full circle to customers!

      Having said that it can not be denied that the task of filling up the stand with forms takes what, 1 minute tops?

      Yes I think it comes from the top down (or at least should do), no argument there really and as the manager is unlikely to pass on my comments up the chain (because he has far more important crap to deal with from HO) I took matters into my own hands. The pursuit of profits has unfortunately taken priority over the delivery of service and ultimately the customer has spoken by purchasing elsewhere. Put people first and profits will follow, get that mixed up and it’s all down the pan.

      Thanks again for your candid insight into how things really are. I wonder if there is scope for some sort of anon venting website for middle management to disclose the failures of their senior leaders?

      I hope it all works out for you and Focus. If you have colleagues who would contribute to the discussion then do point them this way.

  15. Come on Mr Manager, excuses are one thing but reasons are another. Your post has answered a lot of points made throughout this exchange, as it shows that staff are not at fault, management are. By this, I don’t mean store managers either, I mean higher managers. Perhaps the CEO would do himself a favour by serving on the tills for a day, or stocking the shelves? That TV programme where the boss goes back to the floor is fantastic and I think lots of organisations would do well to try it, especially the bigger ones and local government.

    The failure of a store or a company is seldom the fault of individuals in that store, or the bottom tier of workers in a company, it is almost always the result of poor management.

    Problem solving is for everyone to do and how difficult would it have been to give each till operator the responsibility to fill the comment form boxes every time they are on a till? A bit like who uses the last toilet roll in the toilet, put in a replacement! We are all responsible.

    I hope Focus doesn’t go under, the one I use is a good store and I haven’t had any problems. Although these comments are on the back of Gary’s post relating to Focus, don’t take it personally, the same applies to a lot of large organisations. They tend to pay peanuts and expect relatively untrained staff to run their stores. I had an experience in Bennett’s just before they went under and if the attitude of the deputy manager and the customer services manager was how they wanted staff to treat their customers, I am not surprised they failed.

  16. I can understand the Store Managers points entirely – which seem to illustrate Saffron Kate’s more general observations.

    All too often (particularly in highly leveraged businesses) – it seems that the executive team are only interested in squeezing out as much cash as possible from the business in the short term, rather than building a business for the long term. At this point everything becomes a priority – except the customer experience.

    Pennies off prices is no compensation for poor or non-existent service. Focus should focus on adding value to the customer – if they want to add long term value to the business. And they should listen to their front-line staff.

    I have tried shopping twice at a Focus (no names, no pack drill). The first time I left without buying anything because the plants in the garden centre were in such a poor state – good stock going to waste simply because the staff were too run ragged to find time to water them. The second time I left without buying anything because the poor till operators were run ragged trying to serve customers, find stock, handle returns AND sign people up for loyalty schemes – as such they failed to win my loyalty.

    It sounds as though this company has over-complicated the business of serving customers. One wonders what the executives will get by way of redundancy pay – and what they will put on their CVs.

    • Focus Store Manager

      Huh

      You have hit the nail on the head when you said

      It sounds as though this company has over-complicated the business of serving customers.

      General store managers had so many plans to manage that we needed another plan to keep them all going.

      Example we needed a plan on how to attract customers to our stores, this was GSM led, when those customers did arrive they found near empty shelves, a depleted range and very few colleagues to serve them.

      The only thing which seemed important was selling kitchens and bathrooms because this made the sales look good due to the high value, we were reminded many times of how important this was by our Regional controller, quite often we received very insulting emails and reminded that East Anglia was the sleepy hollow of the business (despite winning region of the year for 2010) how motivational do you think we felt after reading them?

      My philosophy of retail is simple and it is as follows

      1) Put stock on the shelf
      2) Put a price on it
      3) Keep your retail establishment tidy
      4) Have assistants available to serve

      Does this sound like Focus, i think not, does it sound like a company that dissapeared when taken over by Focus, i think so, that was Great Mills Diy bought out by Focus Do It All in the year 2000. Now that was a great business, it looked after it’s staff and certainly did not over complicate it’s business of serving customers.

  17. Hi,

    I wonder if Focus was treated as (and I quote a phrase I heard all to often some time ago) a “cash cow” in the end. I mean its not as if there aren’t some very good competitor examples of how to run exactly that type of business and get it right.

    I’m no believer in loyalty schemes, a good shopping experience is what will make me and most others return to a store. A poor experience will only make that store the last choice on the list for future purchases.

    Same old story ignored here I reckon, a small outlay on staff training will provide divs in the long run for a long time. The other option is the one chosen all to often, quick sales quick return and blindfolds on!

    Andy

  18. Focus Employee (minimum wage level)

    Thankyou, thankyou to the supportive comments by people here.I’ve been with the company for over four years and in that time I’ve seen many staff leave and not replaced as the budget is squeezed for every penny it can give.This has left all staff run off our feet. Just speaking personally, I’ve had customers comment along the lines of;”if they stick a broom up your arse maybe you can sweep the floor too?” We have all become more and more frustrated as time goes by, but I can say that every staff member in my store does the best they can for our customers as the vast majority of customers are sympathetic and understand this.
    I absolutely agree with Focus manager, he makes very valid points. May I say too that, yes refilling the comments leaflets may only take a minute, unfortunately there are many, many jobs needing doing that only take a minute, and we have time for few of them when we are prioritising trying to keep our customers happy. Some of these jobs will inevitably get overlooked from time to time. We are only human.
    I really would like to comment on the people taking a critical tone about groups of staff outside the store smoking. We are allowed ,by law, to have a certain amount of breaks. It’s not actually against the law to smoke. If you see two of us together, it will almost certainly be one till op and one shop floor staff to minimise disruption. If we all took our breaks separately, we wouldn’t have time to have them. I hope that helps.
    Thankyou again to all the people who have given us support in any way. Before people post petty, negative comments (e.g. about spelling (?!)) could you please consider that we are all deeply upset at the moment and that most of us still don’t know whether we have jobs left. Phew, glad I got that off my chest. x

    • Thanks for that and I think, if you read your post again, you will see that, actually, most of the comments that you perceive as negative towards you, actually agree with you. It isn’t the fault of anyone in the store, it is down to higher management and their unrealistic targets and expectations.

      The same is to be seen all over the business world and in local government. Just looking at our own county council, if the top bloke, who actually “does” very little in real terms, was sacked, the council could pay for another ten teachers or another twenty office staff. It makes no sense to keep people behind desks and sitting in meetings when the actual coal-face has nobody mining coal, the mine will close and all will be out of a job!

  19. Barry Scott

    Man, doesn’t anyone get it. Gary is a customer, he didn’t enjoy the experience, he doesn’t need to be bloody qualified to say whether he enjoyed it or not; he knows how he feels.

    If the issue is with upper management he’s point is still correct, he acknowledges that the guy in the store was apologetic. The whole point of this is that FOCUS, the big brand, need to step their act up. And Gary ‘moaning’ about this only helps you store managers as it directs attention that the upper management’s stupid targets are affecting the company where it matters.

    All in all; if Gary didn’t have a pleasant experience at Focus, you guys need to focus on sorting it (get it?).

    - Baz

  20. Very interesting blog post, and also a very interesting discussion, thanks Gary.

    Today, I decided to take my elderly mother to a DIY store. We have several in our local area, a mix of Focus and Homebase, so you would imagine competition is fierce. We wanted to buy several tins of paint so we looked for a trolley outside the store. There were two extremely old, rusty ones, stuck together, and no others to be seen throughout the car park. As we went into the store, we passed an employee and my mother told him there were no trolleys outside. I was expecting him to say he was sorry and would we like him to find one for us. Nope, not what he said. Instead, he adopted a sarcastic tone and told us ‘No,they’re all in here, being used’, as he continued on his way out of the store. Right in front of us was another staff member, with a customer trolley, using it for transporting and unloading stock.

    Now, whilst having sympathy with employees who feel disgruntled, over-worked, etc (I’ve had numerous jobs working for companies where more than what was reasonable was asked of me, so I’m not unqualified to comment. I’ve worked in a retail environment too and it is hard work for not much pay), it is NEVER acceptable to be rude to a customer. My mother and I turned tail and took our custom elsewhere, but not before mentioning to the nearby staff that we were leaving because we choose not to shop anywhere where staff are openly rude to us. Several staff giggled, another gave me a disgusted look.

    Training, yes, better resourced and more motivated, empowered staff, yes, but really, no matter what, once staff start treating customers like this (and you all know that’s wrong, Focus staff, you all buy things in shops yourselves) the end , I’m afraid, is nigh for Focus. I don’t expect to be bowed to and carried around the store on a velvet cushion (though that would be nice!), but I do expect, at the very least, civility. And a trolley to carry my shopping.

    And … the failure of the company to provide you with the support you need should never prevent you from having some self-respect and pride in what you do.

    Interestingly, I mentioned my experience today on Twitter, and was treated to the following from a Focus employee who shall remain nameless to protect her already tenuous employment:

    ‘staff are being kept in the dark & treated like shit..not knowing if they’ll have a job to go or not! give them a break..’

    and: ‘people mouthing off about focus diy staff..get a grip, you have no idea what its like for us..hell! keep ur opinions to yourselfs!!’

    followed by this from her ‘friend’:

    ‘you can say that about anywhere you get bad service. Nice to hear you revel in other people’s misery’

    This kind of behaviour does no favours to those staff who DO still take a pride in their work under difficult circumstances, but is, I’m afraid, all too common in many stores, not just Focus, in my experience, and is very revealing about how things are at Focus and how their staff think. How can this employee be SO distanced from the fundamentals of what they are there to do (providing a service for paying customers. Customer being ‘person who has your money in their pocket’)?

    And, frankly, for a customer to be told they are not qualified to make comments on how a store is run (as above) is ample confirmation of the depth of the rot. Running a store, any business in fact, is ALL about, first and foremost, listening to what your customers want and delivering it. Those of us who run our own businesses have that on our minds 24-7!

    Which dovetails neatly with Gary’s original point.

    • Focus Store Manager

      Hi Gill

      You are so right in so many ways

      If this incident happened in my store i would not be inpressed even if it had happened since the events of last Thursday, for me it’s all about pride now, we have nothing else left…..come on Focus employee’s lets not lets ourselves down anymore.

  21. Focus Store Manager

    Hi All

    Have any of you taken a look at the Mary Portas website Secret shopper, this was a TV program from last year. On her website shoppers have been invited to rate their own shopping experiances and leave comments.

    The league table makes very interesting reading, 105 retailers have been rated and judging by the slating that Focus stores have had over the last week you would imagine we would be close to the bottom. I fact we are placed at very impressive 18th place which was gained with feedback from 65 reviewers.

    Waterstones and Waitrose take the top two positions, no surprise there. Our main compeditors are well down the pecking order Wickes 63rd, B&Q 71st and Homebase 75th.

    I am really glad that i have been able to find this and hopefully all of you who have left comments will take a look. Like all national retailers each individual store is only as good as it’s team, we do have some good stores out there, this proves it

      • Thank you for the link. There are some fascinating comments on the site – when you drill down – some very positive and some very negative (few in the middle) – seems some stores are well run and others are in a mess. This is exactly the sort of feedback that the executive team should be listening too – and acting on.

        @HuwSayer

  22. The thing that is missing today is respect. There is no way I would have spoken to anyone like that even if I wasn’t at work, I was brought up to respect others.

    Today, we have a society that is full of people who have no respect for others, other people’s property or themselves.

    No, I’m not 107 either, just in training to be a grumpy old man.

  23. Really? This is what you have to complain about? An empty feedback box? Wow.. you must really have nothing better to do.

    On a further note, sending a letter to a CEO, what a great idea.. I’m sure you got a reply. You weren’t wasting your time AT ALL there.

    Complete and utter idiots, the lot of you.

  24. Yummymummy

    I don’t think anybody that comments on this post is an idiot. I work for focus diy not sure for how much longer and I totally agree with everybody’s points the customer service in some stores are apalling even some people I work with don’t show great customer service.

  25. Saddo

    I personally have no sympathy with Focus management, having worked for 2 companies forced to close after being constantly squeezed on price/rebating by Focus, forced to contribute to “advertising”, being charged extortionate interest on “focus loans” because of invoices not paid, and then losing supply contracts because of an inability to pay a significant up-front “rebate”.

    Very sorry for the staff indeed, but good riddance FOCUS

  26. I rarely drop comments, but i did some searching and wound up
    here Your opinion counts | Focus DIY Fail | Customer feedback and engagement | Gary Dickenson. And
    I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be just me or does it appear like a few of these comments come across like written by brain dead visitors?
    :-P And, if you are posting at other social sites, I’d like to keep
    up with everything new you have to post. Could you list of all of all
    your communal pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Customer engagement – response to @GaryDickenson’s interesting post | Huw Sayer - [...] posted some thoughts on Gary Dickenson’s interesting blog post about customer engagement http://garydickenson.com/2011/04/your-opinion-counts/. You can respond there – and follow ...
  2. Waitrose: The difference a brand can make | Gary Dickenson - [...] couple of years ago I wrote an article about my observations of customer engagment at my local branch of ...

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