When Which? revealed the results of its 2019 High Street shops survey, it announced that the books and stationery retailer, WHSmith, fared the worst in terms of customer satisfaction.

Maybe* listened to the online conversation created about WHSmith. In our two-part blog series, we explore whether customer sentiment online backs up the study’s results.

The findings

1) Pricing, plastic and the Post Office are problems

2) Authors and literature drive high sentiment

Looking at the detail

How much?

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.

See how your customers feel.

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.

The key takeaway

To deal with negativity, you need to not only respond, but crucially, 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.

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