John Lewis [IRDX RJLW] stands out for its high levels of customer service and the speed with which it resolves consumer problems. The department store offers a comprehensive choice of channels for consumers to get in touch, including via email, phone and Facebook. Responses to test queries made by InternetRetailing researchers were given in 2h 47m for a Facebook query and 2h 2m for email. Over the phone, customer support resolved a problem in 4m 7s. Although this is 2m slower than the average time, the quality of responses was high, with John Lewis scoring the highest mark in our research for effective service.
The retailer is on record as regarding tech investment as being key to customer service. “We are continuing with a greater proportion of investment in IT and our supply chain — critical to improving service and convenience,” Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said in half-year results to the end of July 2016.
InternetRetailing researcher Polina Modenova says the company’s all-encompassing approach helps it to stand out. “There’s a holistic approach to customer service at John Lewis that puts it well ahead of its rivals. Not only does it answer the questions we asked but it does so in a timely manner.” John Lewis also ranked highly in tests measuring the speed of desktop page load.
The retailer further adds value to its communications with customers through social media. Of the Top5 in this Dimension, it has the most Followers on Twitter – 309,000 – which is 18 times higher than the average number in the IRUK Top500. Its social media offers content besides news and events, with its Twitter profile featuring short recipe videos and outfit ideas, which both feature John Lewis products.
The company has also invested in improving customer service through its wider ecommerce offering. Its new Magna Park distribution centre handles fulfilment more efficiently, while the retailer has integrated its desktop, mobile and app offerings and introduced advanced personalised digital shopping experiences, such as Personal Style Edit, which offers clothing advice to women based on details such as their eye colour and height. This may have in part led to an increase in online sales (17%) in the first half of the year. Some 34.5% of retail sales were made online, up from 30.6% the previous year.
“Our results were very much a result of the effective combination of shops and online, demonstrated by the fact that more than three-quarters of our customers made a purchase from one of our shops,” Mayfield said.