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From the Editor in Chief (CR15)

THE CUSTOMER has our full attention in this latest IRUK 500 Performance Dimension Report. In this, we’re in tune with the retail zeitgeist as more and more traders are clear in stating that the customer should always come first – to the extent that businesses need to be built around this idea.

But is there a gap between retailers’ good intentions and what’s actually being achieved here? Customers, after all, don’t judge retailers on what companies are trying to do, customers just want great service.

Accordingly, in our research work for The Customer Dimension, we’ve largely focused on measuring retailers by what they do. We’ve assessed – and we continue to assess – whether site speed meets customers’ expectations. We’ve measured how efficiently customer service operatives respond to shoppers’ questions and concerns.

Our findings so far are largely encouraging. We’ve found some remarkable individual performances and, on the whole, we’ve found the performance of IRUK 500 retailers meets or exceeds expectations. However, it’s worth noting that some retailers are even now performing well below the standard required.

This is crucial because the new emphasis within the industry on customer-centred retail isn’t going to go away. Instead, as digitally driven cross-channel retail becomes embedded, the new normal, customers will expect to be served in ways that suit them. Retailers that fail to meet the required standards will not survive in a world where customers have almost infinite choice.

Going forward, we will continue to monitor and assess the customer service offered by top retailers, adding new measurements as customer behaviour changes, and as new technologies and channels emerge. Integral to our research will be to see whether retailers effectively scale customer service and customer experience initiatives. These assessments will be objective, based on original work and hard data, but we will also seek to present our research in the context of wider developments within the retail sector.

We would particularly welcome the input of industry professionals here. What are the measures that you most value in assessing customer experience and customer service? What new developments will be important here? Are there interlopers ready to shake up the established order here? Please do get in touch with your ideas and thoughts as we turn our attention towards 2016.

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