I’ve been asked an awful lot what has happened since my blog post last weekend about the snow gridlock at Tesco car park within the Wrekin Retail Park. The answer, thanks to social media, is quite a lot:
Nothing from Tesco; more on that later.
And the lessons learned/to be learned?
1. If you stick your head above the parapet, you’re going to get shot at.
This came mainly from Tesco staff members directing comments towards me and others who commented on my blog, upset at the abuse they had received from Tesco customers during the gridlock. For the record, my original blog post was in no way directed at the Tesco staff, they should NOT receive abuse from customers under any circumstances, individual staff members had no control over the whole situation and it saddens me greatly that they received such torrid abuse.
2. The loyalty of Tesco staff
I’ve been amazed at how personally some of the Tesco staff took the negative press that came out, clearly a lot of them are very proud of where they work and in this day and age seeing that loyalty was great to see.
1. Poor online customer service
I deal a lot with clients looking to use social media to enhance their customer service offering to customers. From the outside looking in, Tesco seem no different.
During the gridlock, I received 2 tweets from Tesco, then silence, which as a customer I found frustrating and disappointing on the day. Since then, other than asking for their postal address, I have received no tweets from Tesco despite numerous mentions from me (but they have replied to others replying to me and mentioning Tesco). If I’d been really rude or aggressive in my tweets, fair enough. But my tweets have been professional, measured and human.
Even if they’d responded by saying ‘we do not publicly comment on others blogs’ or ‘we have nothing to add to this, it has been referred to our customer service manager’, that would have been something. But by saying nothing leaves this deafening silence and a feeling that they just don’t care.
Furthermore, I posted my open letter/blog post on Tesco’s Facebook page on Sunday 5th. Not only did I not get a response, I notice it has disappeared. This I really do not understand. Go and take a look at some of the negative comments posted on that page (most of which get answered). My post was again professional, measured and asking for their thoughts. Deleting it tells me they don’t care or are wanting to hide from the situation….
2. No ‘human’ to send my complaint letter to
When I enquired who to send my letter to, I was told just to send it to the customer services department, not to any named individual. In a time where trust and knowing who you are dealing with is paramount, this is a massive fail for me and again makes me feel they don’t care and it’s going to go in the bin. I’m not saying that is what will happen, just how it makes me feels as a customer.
3. No public statements
Apart from a small paragraph sent to BBC Midlands Today stating that they were sorry and had offered tea and coffee to all customers (factually incorrect but I’ll let it pass), Tesco have not said a word publicly about what happened. Again I find the silence somewhat deafening. – do they not care, do they have something to hide and why on earth would they not at least put out a statement in defence of their poor staff who received such torrid abuse. Why should it be their staff that have to (generally anonymously) speak online about the abuse they received?
4. What happens next time?
The gridlock in the Tesco car park will happen again, it’s happened before many times. Can/will Tesco develop a contingency plan to ensure customers are safe and looked after or do they think their duty of care stops at the door to their store?
I can’t help feeling that if they took more proactive steps in the first few hours of gridlock before the accident occurred (e.g. Offering a cup of tea or checking those stuck were ok, effective marshalling, more effective signposting etc), they would have nipped a lot of the abuse suffered by staff in the bud (not all of it, I’m not unrealistic, sadly there will always be those who feel it is acceptable to abuse staff, whatever they are offered).
I, and many Telford residents, would like to know if they have a contingency plan or whether they are considering developing one.
By the council:
1. Good online customer service
I have to congratulate Telford & Wrekin council for being the only affected party who I contacted on Twitter to respond immediately to thank me for my open letter and to me it had been passed on. Of course I have no idea if they did or not, but the fact they responded at least gives me hope.
2. Site access
A lot of the debate on my blog post and on a LinkedIn discussion have centred around access to the site and why there isn’t a relief road or something else being done to improve what is known to everyone locally as an awful bottleneck. I truly hope that what happened last week at least restarts the debate between the council, Tesco and the retail park. I understand that Tesco has campaigned for a relief road which is great to hear, but the council ultimately refused it. It would great to get a statement from the council as to whether this access issue is back on the agenda.
By the general public:
1. Heed the weather warnings
We all knew it was going to snow. I’m sure many people, like me, felt they had essential journeys to make but undoubtedly a lot of people could have avoided the traffic problems by just staying at home. One day, maybe, we’ll learn to listen to the warnings we receive.
2. Prepare for cold weather
If you do go out, follow the AA’s advice as to what to take with you and what to do in case you get stuck.
3. Don’t be an idiot
I’ve heard countless tales of dangerous driving, running red lights etc when the gridlock happened. Seriously, not good. Treat others as you would want to be treated and don’t break the law!
4. Stand up and be counted
If you are unhappy about the access issues on the site, or the way you were treated by any of the retailers on the Retail Park, get in touch with the council, the retailers and your local councillor. Poor service and local issues can get changed if there is enough voice behind it.
So, there you go, my thoughts a week on – I’ll be sending off my letters to interested parties this weekend. Not to have a rant but to offer a customer’s and local residents’ perspective on something that went badly wrong.
Image from afiftabsh.com