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Customer focus

Customer Focus

Maintaining a high level of customer service across the Group is a strategic priority for our business. We have a number of initiatives in place to ensure customers continue to enjoy the experience in our stores and online. Our mystery shopper programme is used to monitor customer service standards across our estate, helps us to better understand our store experience from the customer’s perspective and provide us with actionable feedback that can be incorporated into our operating practices. Any key learnings for us in terms of how improvements can be made are disseminated to regional store teams.

Our people are critical to delivering our customer service vision and we recognise and reward staff who deliver excellent customer service. In our High Street business, we operate a recognition scheme which awards a gold badge to store staff by our Regional Business Managers during their store visits and to staff named in any compliment letters from customers. Last year, we delivered a training course to store managers, including examples of different levels of customer service, and providing them with the necessary skills to have conversations with store staff to continue to improve customer service levels.

In our Travel business this year, we have re-briefed staff of our expectations in terms of customer service. Implementation of these customer service expectations is tracked as part of our regular store reviews. Our senior management team continues to visit each and every store, assessing and scoring the store on a specific set of criteria focused on customer service and store standards.

Our recruitment policies focus on identifying candidates with expertise and passion for the products they will be selling, particularly for our specialist stores, such as Bookstores and TechExpress. Finally, we celebrate success and share best practice through our ‘Customer Hero’ programme where we recognise those colleagues who go above and beyond to deliver excellent customer service.

Improving access for customers

It is our aim to make our stores accessible to all customers. We pay particular attention to our disabled customers and have had a programme in place for a number of years to ensure that our stores can accommodate their needs.

We carry out disability access audits across all of our stores and have an ongoing capital development programme which prioritises ongoing improvements. This covers the installation and upkeep of specialized equipment and access features such as customer lifts, internal ramps, automatic doors and other adjustments such as induction hearing loops. Regular tests are undertaken on the equipment we have in place, to ensure everything is working correctly and that appropriate signage is in place for customers.

We want to ensure that all of our staff know how they can best assist customers with disabilities. We provide training to all of our employees, using materials and guidance provided by the Business Disability Forum (BDF), of which WHSmith has been a long-standing member..