Monday 27 October 2014

In praise of Argos

In my MSc I have a new a much welcomed outlet for my obsession with customer service.  It gives me a framework for understanding the potential causes and remedies (and there are a multitude of both).

I'm fascinated with how opinions and subsequent behaviours can be impacted with a memorable experience - whether it is good or bad.  I'm also intrigued in situations where there is a deep and loyal brand affinity which is put to the test. How many times will we make excuses for the brand before you admit your annoyance, displeasure or break the connection?

I'm really interested in your experiences and stories.  If you'd like to share them here that's great, otherwise drop me a line or tell me the next time we meet, I'm becoming a bit of a collector.

To get the ball rolling let me tell you about Argos.  I visited their Brighton shop on Saturday with some trepidation.  I needed a new laptop and after much research selected the type I wanted.  It was available at Argos so I mentally prepared for a crammed shop full of people and their children doing early Christmas shopping, thumbing through enormous catalogues and gazing in a glazed manner at a screen where their order number moved ever close to the top.  That's before I get to the faff on with the miniature pencils and the toy-like stock checking gizmos.

Anyway - I was pleasantly surprised.  As well as the enormous, laminated catalogues there were also touch screens to check and look up products.  There was a helpful chap working the floor helping people locate items in the catalogue or on screen.  There were automated payment points and then, the long, familiar bar of joy where my laptop would appear in approximately 11 minutes.  I felt my expectations were being managed. There was a steady stream of people collecting their purchases and my joy was palpable as my number was called.  This was the one bum note in the proceedings as my item had not yet arrived.  A few minutes later I saw it slide down the conveyor.  I pointed this out to an assistant who advised they weren't allowed to collect it until it had been cleared by one of the two 'conveyor clearers' or 'dispatchers'.  I willed these two to pick up the box - it took a little longer but then all was checked and I was on my way.  The experience, though not perfect was far better than I had anticipated.  The staff were polite and responsive.

I still can't fathom how the basic concept of Argos still survives - is it the selection products and the pricing?  I have to say my laptop was a great price.

Go on - share your experience - good or bad.




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