Co-operative stores urged to improve service

National Retail Society Conference speaker Mark Bradley urged retail societies to use customers’ experiences as a meaningful catalyst for change and improvement.

Mr Bradley, author of two books on retailing from a shopper’s perspective, Inconvenience Stores (2005) and Retails of the Unexpected (2008) told delegates that co-ops — and local football clubs — have the greatest right to talk up their community values.

However many Co-op stores needed to subvert the entire way they dealt with customers and Mr Bradley said that when he visits his local Co-op in West Yorkshire, there was often no one serving. “When a queue builds up, staff have to be summoned to go to the check-out and that’s not what you expect from an organisation with values like yours,” he said.

Mr Bradley also complained that buying newspapers early on a Sunday morning was also often a fraught experience, with bundles remaining stacked and unopened despite the store being open. This, he said, had led him to go down the road to a local filling station, but the danger was that if customers had to go elsewhere for newspapers, they would also choose to buy milk, bread and other products at other shops, too.

“Reawaken your unique identity; it’s what makes you special,” urged Mr Bradley. “Your values dictate that customer service is something you ought to be doing and doing well.”

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