In a previous article on this site I made the point that customer service, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are three very different things. Unfortunately the mainstream media (and a lot of the general public) don’t understand the distinction.
So my heart sank last week when I started seeing reports appear in the national media that say Aldi has been voted the best supermarket in the UK for customer service.
NO THEY HAVEN’T !!!!!!!
Let’s get a few facts straight. The consumer group Which? has recently conducted a survey of customer satisfaction and the results of this survey show that Aldi has been rated the UK's best supermarket, nudging previously top-ranked Waitrose down to fourth place.
Marks and Spencer was second in the list, winning high marks for store appearance and product quality, with Lidl in third place. The larger supermarkets fared worst, with Sainsbury's ranked bottom of the entire list.
Unfortunately, a group of sloppy journalists who don’t understand customer service have reported this survey in the national media along the lines of Aldi having the "best customer service". This is completely false.
Customer 'satisfaction' is based on the overall customer experience, which in many cases comes down to simply who is the cheapest. Many customers say they are 'satisfied' with their experience, despite receiving poor customer service, simply because they have got a bargain. It is a dangerous mistake to confuse customer satisfaction with customer service.
In fact, if these lazy journalists had bothered to read the full survey (not just the headlines) then they would have seen that customers actually criticised Aldi stores for being "untidy", for a “lack of staff availability”, for “long queuing times” and for the “poor range of products on offer”.
While Aldi accounts for only 7% of the UK grocery market and Lidl 5%, the discount chains have seen strong sales growth over the last few years.
According to Alex Neil from Which? "With food costs rising, it seems as though shoppers have felt the pinch and are voting with their feet and wallets."
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Tesco is considering launching its own budget supermarket chain. The Sunday Times reported that the country's largest supermarket has "secret plans" to take on the discounters at their own game, by opening stores offering a limited range of own-brand products.
For what it’s worth, I have reproduced the full Which? survey results below. But in my opinion (which is backed with empirical evidence) the four big supermarkets at the bottom of this list offer far better customer service than Aldi or Lidl ever will.
1. Aldi 74%
2. Marks and Spencer 73%
3. Lidl 69%
4. Waitrose 68%
5. Iceland 65%
6. Tesco 64%
7. Asda 63%
8. Morrisons 63%
9. Sainsbury's 62%