The past decade has seen Waitrose go from strength to strength, delivering financial success and receiving a number of industry accolades encompassing its award-winning foods, customer satisfaction, corporate responsibility and high levels of job satisfaction throughout the company.
With customer satisfaction a top priority, Waitrose had previously utilised a mystery shopping programme. However, the company sought greater understanding of its customers’ experiences, and sought a partner to provide a more dynamic feedback system, giving enhanced customer insight to drive improvements.
Richard Quarterman, Waitrose’s Service Innovation Manager, explains “As the economic climate and the breadth of the retail offer becomes increasingly complex, so too does consumer behaviour. It’s important that we continue to exceed consumers’ growing expectations for what the ideal experience looks and feels like.”
Waitrose rolled out an innovative Voice of Customer solution from Empathica to get ‘real life feedback from real customers’. Named ‘Measuring the Magic’, the programme covers all 302 UK stores, its online delivery service and its customer sales and support centre.
Richard explains: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we positively welcome their feedback to help us improve. The old mystery shopper programme was quite artificial, and it didn’t feel right to be resorting to subterfuge to measure our performance.  The new programme gives us real feedback from real customers, and feels a lot more honest and adult.  Fortunately our customers like to tell us about the good value and excellent service they enjoy from Waitrose – it’s our point of difference and it’s worth celebrating.”
Waitrose has reviewed over 750,000 pieces of feedback from customers, and the feedback gathered has driven a number of service initiatives in-store. All insights are driven by solid data and feedback from real customers – on average, each store receives over 120 responses every four weeks.
“The feedback we get from real customers is fantastic,” said Richard. “The programme provides us with genuine, timely feedback from a wide spectrum of customers per store each month. This data informs our ongoing improvement programme across our whole business, including retail operations, Partner development and training.”
This view is supported by the operational leadership teams. “Measuring the Magic has enabled us to identify and act upon some common themes across the company, for instance queuing times at the tills and the customer experience at the counters,” commented James Allen, Head of Retail Operations. “Analysis of the data also allows us to drill down to the root causes of poor feedback which aren’t always obvious. For example, our division had lower than average scores in relation to the online delivery service.  Further analysis discovered it was actually the drivers’ uniforms which customers felt were looking a little shabby.  We issued new uniforms and feedback scores immediately improved.  Without the Empathica programme we would never have been able to identify what the real problem was.”
Waitrose is one of the fastest growing and most innovative retailers with 302 stores across the UK dedicated to offering quality, value and customer service.  Combining the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop, the company prides itself on setting the benchmark for excellent customer service. 

Gary TopialGary Topiol, Managing Director, International, Empathica

Gary has been developing global customer experience strategies for FTSE 100 & Fortune 500 retailers for more than 20 years. He oversees Empathica’s business outside of North America and ensures its VoC programs meet the diverse needs of global customers. Gary earned his MBA from Cranfield School of Management.

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