Keep Up | Blog | Foundation East

Keep Up

‘Keep up’ dear; those words will remain with me forever.

Being the youngest of three and by far the smallest, I was constantly trying to ‘keep up’ with my elder siblings. Be that walking, running, cycling, swimming, eating or any of those basic things in life. However, it certainly made me learn quickly, adapt and adjust even quicker.

What a shame the likes of Woolworths, HMV or Jessops did not learn to ‘keep up’. Not only that but they so obviously ‘missed the boat’ or were not able to see the writing on the wall. It makes me wonder how that happened. Were they too distanced from their market, did they not see how their customer’s needs were changing?

It is all too easy to become complacent. Many businesses, which start up successfully, have a period where they forget to ‘keep up’. Their initial success is wonderful and they often feel that they have ‘cracked it’. That is the very time to be checking what your target market are doing. Why are they buying from you? Even more importantly why are the others not buying from you?

In today’s busy and fast paced world things change even quicker and the need for constant change and adjustment is required. The closer you are to your customers the more you will learn about their preferences and choices. More importantly, because we have busy lives, we also need accessibility; nothing is more accessible than online.

But was it due to competition, poor management, the growth of online trading or was it due to poor customer service. Speaking specifically about Woolworths, John Lanchester wrote Pricing and competition from the internet have been blamed too – but again, I’m not so sure that was the crux of the matter. When children want/need something, the net often isn’t an immediate solution. The problem was more that the shops were so chaotic, so prone to not having the stuff you’d expect them to have, to selling out of precisely the things everybody wanted, and above all to having chronically de-motivated, deskilled staff. The staff were hard to find in the first place, and if you did find someone, they never knew anything – where it was, what it was, who might want it, where it might be if it wasn’t right on the shelf where it was supposed to be, and why any of this was supposed to be of interest to them. I gather, anecdotally, that this wasn’t true of every Woolworths, but I suspect it was true of enough of them to be a big issue.’

I have to agree with John. There was a Woolworths near me and the customer service was just as described above.

High on my agenda is great customer service hence; I am a lover of Amazon and more recently Homebase – well done to the guy who found the very tin of paint I required. Nothing was too much trouble for him.

My point is, be it your customer service or your target market changing the way they purchase goods and services, you need to know about before it is too late. So remember ‘keep up’!


  • About the Author
    Valerie Jarrett

    Valerie Jarrett

    Business Loans Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk

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