Is SolarUK prêt à Portas?
Retail guru Mary Portas has been entertaining BBC viewers recently with her efforts to help small shops reshape their businesses, offering often uncomfortably frank advice to enable them to remain viable and compete with bigger names.
Others may know her from the long-standing column in the Daily Telegraph weekend magazine in which she visits a well-known shop and gives it a score out of ten. She is looking at range, product quality (with price naturally a strong consideration), the layout of the store and more.
The business’ image comes in for scrutiny too. This is trickier area for any retail business, because much of this is based on history or origins. Portas will ask around her office to find out what colleagues think of a company, and many will have an opinion even if they haven’t set foot in the shop for years. Take McDonalds: it might have become a vegetarian oriental noodle outlet overnight, but on hearing the name we conjure up images of Big Macs, thick shakes and screaming children.
Then there’s Portas’ ‘was I being served?’ question. Did the staff appear friendly, and could they provide helpful answers to her queries?
Her column this Saturday is due to examine HSBC, so as there are no items to actually take home after popping into one of their branches (not even the pens are removable) the customer service issue will presumably loom especially large.
So what would Portas discover if she turned her attention to SolarUK? Well, to judge from client feedback she would experience very good customer service coupled, crucially, with the technical know-how to answer any points she raises and also to sort out, in the unlikely event of its occurrence, any problem that might crop up.
Other solar energy companies may present a pleasantly cooperative face but rather too often the person who picks up the phone will lack the technical nous the customer really needs. It’s a tribute to the staff at SolarUK, and an indication of the lack of an ‘after sales’ policy on the part of some rivals, that they are often called in to sort out the problem resulting from another company’s product or installation.