Every crisis brings an opportunity, but try telling that to shopkeepers who saw the high street shut for months on end during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The pandemic did not discriminate, as family-run firms who had been trading for decades and fresh-faced start-ups all suffered at the hands of the invisible virus. A tide of shop closures swept the country, battering the already struggling retail sector.
While some simply shut up shop, others went back to drawing board to find a business model capable of navigating the troubled waters outside. Like Rhian Anstey, for example, who owns three successful Vodafone stores in Prestatyn, Rhyl and Oswestry.
Rhian, whose retail career included spending 12 years with jewellers Ernest Jones, told Business News Wales:
“Before lockdown, I employed 20 staff, including three store managers, and we were growing the business. I started with two stores in April 2019, but I saw an opportunity for growth by improving the customer service experience. I wanted to cultivate a loyal following among the community and it was really starting to work. In Rhyl, we saw 120 per cent improvement in year-on-year sales.”
Then in March 2020 the first lockdown hit.
“The day lockdown started I was booked on a two-day training course in Nottingham — I was the only one who turned up. The place was empty, then the hotel closed the restaurant, it was surreal. I came home and closed the shops.”
While the reality of the situation was still sinking in, Rhian knew she could not spend lockdown sitting at home.
I thought about converting a campervan into a cocktail bar, that one probably wasn’t one of my best ideas. I enjoyed running a franchise because it gives you that extra security. You are joining a successful business model, but you can still make it your own. I explored several options, including a stage school, but I wanted something which used my business skills.”
It was then that Rhian came across insight6, the only customer experience specialist in the UK and Ireland. The company designs and delivers advanced feedback programmes, using customer reviews and surveys, to build bespoke customer experience improvement plans.
Rhian, who now covers North Wales and Chester for insight 6 explains:
“My experience in retail had taught me how customer experience can deliver growth, so I knew I could help others. I have seen so many examples of poor customer experience. Business owners often say they have ‘first class customer service’, but the reality can be very different. Today’s customers are less tolerant of poor service and are more likely to go online and complain by writing a bad review. People are not embarrassed about complaining anymore, but service has to be amazing to get good feedback.”
Using the insight6 tools, Rhian plots the customer journey in the business, benchmarking the findings against the competition. This helps to create a plan highlighting opportunities to increase the average spend and to generate repeat business. Positive customer experience also reduces staff turnover, as teams are motivated and can see the results for themselves.
“I believe that too many businesses are still blaming Covid for their poor customer service. The pandemic has been with us for over a year, it shouldn’t take that long to get organised. Covid is an easy excuse for poor service.”
For more information on how insight6 can transform customer experience in your business, please contact Rhian at [email protected] or on 07570 164991.