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For Argos, responding to the crisis is more important than the truth

Chris Field
Chris Field

According to the Guardian and a consumer from Glasgow, Argos delivery men knocked a hole in a wall while delivering a sofa bed. Whether they did or didn’t isn’t really the point; Argos’ slightly pompous and impersonal response, straight from the desk of lawyers, Sue, Grabbit & Runne, simply prompts a reaction from me.

For goodness sake, pay for the damaged wall, build a solid customer relationship for life and move on without showing up in the national press!

It’s not the truth that will out you, but the response. That adage will come up more and more as consumer orders move online or in-store for home delivery.

The bitter truth is that doorstep delivery is often the only real contact many retailers have with their customers. In this case, it was Argos, but of course in most cases it is a third party. It could be a subsidiary of an international courier company or it could be a neighbour; either way, it is not remotely a representative of the retailer. But when it goes wrong or just goes averagely, guess who gets the blame?

If the only differentiator available to many retailers is the quality of the customer experience they deliver, why are the retailers letting the last mile knock holes, real or metaphorical, in the walls of consumers’ expectations?

It’s particularly pertinent given that both retailers and tech companies are trying to outdo each other by offering a greater range and speed of delivery. This is irrelevant if customers are waiting at home for a delivery that is late – and may end up being thrown over the fence rather than placed on the porch.

You may think I’ve spent too much time with consumer groups, but they are the people that are now in charge. They are the ones with all the channels at their disposal.

Surely it is better for retailers to over-respond to a consumer crisis, real or concocted?

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