If Sainsbury’s can do it…

The Channel 4 series ‘I’m running Sainsbury’s’ looks at company boss Justin King’s mission to find the supermarket’s next ‘big idea’ from amongst his own staff.

One episode saw graduate Nial setting up a ‘stall’ and asking customers to come and explain their grievances over what the company was doing wrong. His thinking was that customers should be given the opportunity to offer constructive criticism face to face rather than vent their frustrations by taking business to a rival supermarket.

I wonder how many public transport companies would be comfortable doing this?

Everyone accepts passengers want buses and trains to be consistently clean, punctual, manned by courteous staff and offer value for money. Marketing teams spend big budgets selling people the benefits of public transport but too often their strategies are let down by the reality of their travel experience.

The messages quite rightly raise expectations but if not delivered, can lead to disappointed and unhappy customers who vote with their feet by choosing to use another operator or different form of transport.

Nial’s experiment at Sainsbury’s proved one thing. If you can resolve a customer complaint, they will be even more loyal than they were before. It also showed there are more people out there with a grievance than you can imagine.

The management team at Sainsbury’s concluded that you need passionate people in your organisation and customers should never be taken for granted, as their loyalty is a valuable commodity.

Is this ‘talk to us’ approach something public transport operators should consider? Or does the present system mean they are simply happy to have largely captive audiences who have nowhere else to go?

You tell us. Leave a comment.

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