With competition increasing each year it has never been more important for retailers to demonstrate that customer service is ingrained in every part of their business. With this in mind, I was keen to see if the recently re-opened Clerkenleap Service Station at Broomhall, Worcester was applying this philosophy.
The co-branded KeyStore/BP site was almost dominated by the Watts Truck & Vans sales areas at each end, nevertheless the forecourt attracts a steady flow of traffic. The BP pole sign was informative but did not detail the shop logo or its opening hours. The BP banner promoting an ’Ultimate/Nectar’ offer partly obscured the view through to the store.
Forecourt: Of the three fuelling lanes, two were out of action as engineers were working on the canopy.
The forecourt didn’t offer a car wash facility but air, Calor Gas, barbecue fuels, flowers and papers were available. At the time of my visit (mid morning) the paper display unit looked a bit of a mess.
There were two non-food promotions at the pumps, one for a First Aid kit and the other for a travel water bottle for dogs! There were a limited number of designated parking places for shop customers.
Shop: This KeyStore ’ticks many of the boxes’ - there was a good range of impulse products and convenience grocery lines. It has an off licence section and offers hot drinks. Sandwiches and cold savoury snacks were also available. A free-standing Bake’n’Bite display unit was empty.
I had to ask for the key to the customer toilet - it was reasonably clean but had grubby doors.
The store supports the Key three-weekly promotion programme and it was good to see that each shelf-barker was showing the My Shop is Your Shop campaign logo. Also on offer was a good range of England World Cup material.
Two members of staff were in the store and were more interested in chatting to each other than engaging with customers. However, the store gave the general impression of a bright and clean shopping environment that should meet shoppers expectations.
Prognosis: Building profitable sales should be the objective of every retailer and every symbol group that supports them. Symbol groups should have the expertise to help their retail members understand their business better. They should also be able to construct a marketing and promotion programme that works hard to drive and develop sales. Within this process would be a staff training element that would feature the vital importance of customer service.
Diagnosis: The owners of Clerkenleap Services have made a significant investment in the KeyStore refurbishment. They must have worked closely with Key and wholesaler Symonds and the end product of all this hard work is a modern professional store.
Successful stores become an important part of their community. This is more easily achievable for a neighbourhood store than for a store with a predominately transient customer base with immediate consumption needs. I suspect this KeyStore serves transient customers, many being fuel-only.
Prescription: To sustain growth retailers need to continue to develop their business and look at how they can further improve customer spend.
Symbol-branding the shop offer is an excellent way forward but the offering in this KeyStore seems light on fresh, chilled, organic, healthy snacking and local products. Attention to these areas may well pay dividends.
During my visit to Clerkenleap Services, customer service fell down in a number of areas - no sign or staff comment apologising for inconvenience during maintenance work; a poor newspaper display; some out-of-stocks; grubby loo doors; and apparently disinterested staff. Individually none of these may be business threatening but together they indicate slack management and room for improvement.
As is often said ’retail is detail’ and it may be time very well spent if the owner of Clerkenleap Services, and indeed all retailers, take a customer journey through their business to make sure they are excelling in customer service at every point.