Which? recently revealed the results of its 2019 High Street shops survey, announcing that the books and stationery retailer, WHSmith, fared the worst in terms of customer satisfaction.
Does social media reveal that WHSmith really is the worst of the high street?
Looking at the detail
Through May 2019, there were 3,257 conversations online about WHSmith (including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, TrustPilot forums, and blogs). The majority of these conversations took place on Twitter and tagged in @WHSmith.
Pricing and plastic
Content about WHSmith does have some negativity. Naysaying is directed at poorly positioned offers, pricing, and plastic water bottles. The negative sentiment predominantly impacts the food and beverage offering.
@WHSmith Just like enticing customers to buy chocolate at your tills, you're encouraging us to buy bottles of water in plastic too. How about a discount on the refillable bottles you sell please instead? #Plastic #Refill #plasticwaste @JuliaBradbury @HughFW @KirstieMAllsopp
— Catherine delaHaye (@FreddieRocks) May 17, 2019
Failing to deliver
Among the 3,257 pieces of content posted by consumers about WHSmith in May, concerns about the relocation of several Post Offices feature heavily.
As well, feedback on social media illustrates that staff availability in WHSmith’s Post Office branches; queues, and the ability to actually serve a customer at till point are driving frustration for consumers.
Guilty by association
The poor experiences of the Post Office customer have let WHSmith down. Whether the Post Office is operated by WHSmith or by the Post Office itself is irrelevant to the customer. Already inconvenienced by the relocation of a service they need, customer complaints are directed at WHSmith.
Can @RoyalMail please explain why they close the only post office in Cardiff city centre, move it into a @WHSmith, saying it’s okay cause it’s all automated and will make everything quicker and then do this?? #whatsthepoint #ihavebetterthingstodothencue pic.twitter.com/CSU7kIr5JL
— Brad Channer (@BradChanner) May 7, 2019
The key takeway
To deal with negativity, you need to not only respond but remedy the problem. Offers that make no financial saving for a customer will not be well received and need to be removed. Corporate social responsibility is no longer a nice-to-have; ethical and environmental concerns need to be addressed.
If you have concessions operating within your store environment, the customer holds you responsible. If it's your name above the door, then it is your job to ensure that your partners are delivering the same level of service you expect them to. Be prepared to take ownership if and when that is not the case.