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About Woolworths Supermarkets

Discuss about the Services and Relationship Marketing Of Woolworths Supermarkets.

A Service Organization is a company which mainly aims to get profit from the goods and services they provide to customers. For this report Woolworths Supermarkets has been chosen. Woolworths is an Australian grocery store or supermarket chain which is owned by Woolworths Limited. Alongside Coles, Woolworths forms almost a duopoly in the Australian supermarket section.

They specialize in mostly selling groceries (packaged foods, fruit, meat and vegetables) however; they also indulge in selling stationery items, magazines and DVDs (Keith 2012). Woolworths presently has 1000 stores spread across Australia with 968 supermarkets and 19 stores for convenience. The company was first started in September 1924. Now every company has a service blueprint and Woolworths is no different. The blueprint shows the input processes and outputs. Then there are the front and back stage function which focus on the face to face interactions between sales person and customer and also looks into the communication which is not direct.

A supermarket essentially is a business enterprise which provides goods and services. It actually does not produce a physical product in such sense. Woolworths too adds value by taking in products from suppliers who are remotely based (Arli et al. 2013). They then assemble them in regional warehouses, and then distribute them to their franchises. The process ends with the selling of the products to the customers.

A simple way to put it is that a service blueprint is a process chart which comprises inputs, processes and outputs.

Inputs (raw materials) → Process (transformation) → Outputs (finished goods) → Customers.  

As in case of Woolworths and other service blueprints too it is always made from a customer’s perspective. The blueprint actually identifies: Customer Actions- which are basically the steps which customers take in the service delivery process. Like in Woolworths the customer buys the product from the store which he uses in everyday life (Berning 2014). Secondly there are the front-stage actions which are the steps taken by employees for face to face encounters while providing service. Like a sales employee coming and suggesting the customer as to what product to pick and why.

Then there are backstage actions. These are steps which are non visible usually taken by employees. For example taking an order by phone or customizing an order list via call. There are also support processes which are taken care of by not contact employees, but their actions are always needed to have the services delivered in time. In Woolworths bringing in goods from storehouses require a lot of personal, these types of workers help in the support processes (Calabrese and Corbò 2015).

Service Blueprint from a Customer's Perspective

Physical evidence also plays an important role in the service blueprints of Woolworths. Woolworths are very particular about these and keep uniforms of staffs, service delivery vans clean and proper. These are usually the tangible elements in the service delivery processes which can change the perception of a customer about the brand chain and therefore special emphasis needs to be given to it always (Post and van der Meer 2015). There also needs to be a line of visibility clearly separating back stage and front stage actions. Now this line of visibility can be further divided into line of interaction which divides service provider’s actions from that of customer actions.

Then there is also the line of internal interaction which serves as a separating line between front office and the back office. The line of implementation comes next which usually separates the support zone and the management zone.

In modern day businesses the interaction between customers and sellers are also a part of commerce. Communication between the customer and the business will always take place irrespective of the goods and services provided by the store (FISK 2013). This report also looks at the processes with regards to Woolworths. This is a supermarket chain basically based in Australia. In general it offers everyday products and services to local consumers. To discuss the organization further with more depth an account of both front and back stage functions will be made.

Firstly, the front stage deals with the interactions between the employees at Woolworths and the customers visiting the various centers all around Australia. It starts off actually when a customer enters the supermarket. He or she will in all probability have a list of items written or in the mind the ones that he is suppose to pick (Radnor, Osborne, Kinder and Mutton 2014). He starts off by picking one or two items but more often than not a customer needs the salespersons in the shop to help them pick the right product. This is where the interaction starts. The employee tells the customer about the whereabouts of a certain product and then helps him choose a few from a variety of the same. Suppose the customer needs apple cider vinegar from the store. The sales person asks him as to why does he need it for? He says, that he will have it to reduce weight. Now not all apple cider vinegars can reduce weight therefore the employee helps him pick the right mother vinegar. The employee not only sells the product but also aids in retention of the customer. Sometimes employees also suggest as to what a customer might be forgetting by looking at the items he has picked in the basket. Also conversing and helping out the customer while the billing process is underway also falls under front stage behavior.

Front Stage Functions at Woolworths Supermarkets

The backstage functions are just the opposite. Here the employee and the consumer does not meet face to face but talk via phone or some online medium. These too are important functions as it caters to complaints and queries of the customers. In supermarkets like Woolworths there are always offers that are given to customers and these are ever changing.

A customer can call up one particular store and ask what the offers are for the day, the employee across the phone has to answer them properly and correctly. If he fails to do that there are always fears that the store can lose that particular customer (Reason, Løvlie and Flu 2015). Also, the employees over the phone need to address grievances too. Suppose if a customer has brought a particular product and he wants it replaced because of a defect, the employee has to offer him a solution as to how and when he can visit the store and get the job done. Back stage functions also include the online services provided by employees for customers who want to use the web to shop. This is also a kind of interaction but a veiled one.

Every business including Woolworths knows that in order to sustain itself it needs to get into the minds of the customers. Price seemed to be once the determining factor for this but it is quite inadequate too as there is a limit up to which a supermarket can cut back its prices. Product differentiation too does not work anymore to attract customers since almost identical products are available elsewhere in the market (Yagil and Medler-Liraz 2013). Therefore businesses have realized that the only way to remain in the mind of the customer is with service differences.

A moment of truth occurs usually when the customer comes in contact with the organization in such a manner which gives the customer the opportunity to change his mind set about the organization. Such a moment of truth can occur via the products that Woolworths are offering or the service they are dishing out through their staffs or it can be a combination of both. Instances such as greeting the consumer, promotion of special offers or discounts, handling customer queries and complaints or giving discounts and closing a sale are all related to moments of truth. 

The moments of truths are therefore a top priority in a supermarket like Woolworths. In today’s world which is increasingly becoming service driven with a lot of service providers for each type of product moments of truth have the prime facts that businesses need to keep in mind always.

Back Stage Functions at Woolworths Supermarkets

In moments of truth there are always moments of magic or moment of misery. Moments of Magic are the favorable moments of truth (Schuh 2012). These are times when a customer is served in such a manner that it exceeds the expectations. For example, Woolworths is giving away special discount to a customer choosing him as lucky 100th for the day. A moment of magic however; does not mean it has to be extravagant. Even timely and efficient service given by the employees in Woolworths can create a moment of magic for consumers.

Then there are moments of miseries. These are particular instances where the customer interaction has resulted in a negative outcome. For example, If a customer has found shop assistants to be inattentive in Woolworths. These lapses can never be fully avoided but if such lapses are handled well then these moments of miseries and turn into moments of magic quite quickly for the consumers.

There is more to customer satisfactions than only customer service. Even the most pleasant of exchanges with a shop assistant can never make up for bad or faulty products. It is often said that a customer is always right and businesses should always keep in mind this fact (Klaus and Maklan 2013). Satisfying customers might be the toughest job in the world but then also supermarkets like Woolworths are able to secure loyalty of customers which takes more free gifts and discount coupons. First of all it is about quality of a product. If Woolworths sells a lousy product no amount of aggressive PR or marketing strategies can save it. The product will always create dissatisfaction among consumers.

Separation anxiety is another determining factor for customer choices. In any supermarket chain there are a wide variety of same products in different packages. Suppose there is a detergent in Woolworths that a customer wants to buy and there customer service suggesting something else might not work at all (Qiu 2013). It might cause dissatisfaction among the customer therefore the shop assistants should not push sale another product when a customer wants to buy a certain kind.

Also with the technological advancements customers nowadays want everything on the internet. If there are no websites or information about a particular store then the management will have a tough time running it successfully. Woolworths have successfully created a website which helps customers choose the products they want to buy, or they can easily see the discounts that are being offered in the shop. Customers are satisfied when they find that a particular product is available and they find the price tag attached with it too.

Moments of Truth at Woolworths Supermarkets

The atmosphere of a supermarket also is an influential factor for customer satisfaction. If the products are arranged in such a way that the customers cannot find what they need, this can lead to dissatisfaction (Rawson, Duncan and Jones 2013). Woolworths, however, have all their counters well arranged with shop assistants readily helping out customers to get their desired products.

Then there is also the responsibility of a supermarket like Woolworths to tell the truth about the products and services it offers. Hiding figures, facts and having excessive small prints don’t help in customer satisfactions at all. They might buy the wrong product if they do not know what its usage is like. If a company hassles the customers while exchanges or refunds it might too go against them (Jahanshani 2014). If something is wrong with the product and the seller takes responsibility then it impresses the customer and he might come back to make purchases again.

The organization also should always look to retain its old customers. When a company like Woolworths keeps a customer it is more profitable than finding some one new. These might be done giving old customers discount coupons which new customers would not get. This also helps in keeping the customer business relationship intact and aids in customer satisfaction.

Researchers have always struggled to find effective ways of measuring quality of services. The most used measure is based on set of five principles which have been voted by customers as the most important for service quality.

First of all it concerns tangibles which are the physical appearances of facilities, personnel, equipment, facilities and communication materials. Customers usually remain unsatisfied with the above mentioned things if they are out of order and do not cater to their needs (Orel and Kara 2014). For a brand like Woolworths things always have to be in order, any commotion can lead to customer dissatisfaction.

Then it is measured through reliability, which the ability of an organization like Woolworths to perform and deliver services accurately.

The other criteria for judgment are responsiveness of the supermarket to attend to customer needs, willingness to help them and provide quick and fast service. Then there is Assurance from the employees and their ability to impart confidence and trust on customers (Urban 2013). Empathy is also o e of the service qualities with which an organization gives individualized attention to its customers. Woolworths does the same by having shopping assistants who help the customers choose the right products by giving them individual attention.

Moments of Magic at Woolworths Supermarkets

These are the five dimensions which are utilized to measure service quality which the gap between what the customers expects for excellence and their actual perception of the service that is rendered. This instrument over a period of time helps businesses who provides service understand customer expectations and the areas that need improvements (Kitapci 2013) utilization of this leads to businesses developing their services in many ways.

Service Recovery is a way of converting a previously dissatisfied customer to a one who is loyal to the store and services. Now supermarket brands like Woolworths need to retain customers in order for the business to flourish. A loss of a customer will be an addition of one to one of their rivals. This is an action which the business takes in responding to a failure in service. These are not addressed when the customer complains but these are usually looked into before the dissatisfied customer checks out from the store. A good service recovery helps in having a positive impact on recommendation intention, satisfaction, loyalty, image, trust and word of mouth (Mostafa, Lages and Sääksjärvi 2014). Suppose there is a certain product like a frozen meat product that a customer has added to their basket in Woolworths and it is found that product has crossed the expiry date. Without the customer knowing it, the person at the billing can change the product by getting one from the fresh stock.

Another problem can be with a customer picking a product with defect. If the shopping assistant knows about it or finds it while checking the products of the customers he should immediately change it instead for the customer asking him to do so. Sometimes manual entrees in the systems for generating bills can cause errors. The person at the service counter can find out where it is incorrect and save the customer from paying more (Zhou 2013). Also if a person has bought a couple of products which the shop assistant things he might have added the other one by mistake, he can highlight the fact and help him save more money. These things give immense satisfaction to customers. Some people even argue that great recovery strategies can increase customer satisfaction to a bigger level than if nothing had gone awry in the first place. This is known as service recovery paradox.

Conclusion

The above stated strategies and determinants help discuss the issues with Woolworths and address them providing solutions for each. Woolworths is one of the biggest supermarket chains and they put in every effort to see that they do not lose customers. They cater to the needs and demands of the customers by looking into their problems and addressing them at the earliest. These help create a bond between sales persons and customers which help in the customers choosing Woolworths over others.

References

Arli, V., Dylke, S., Burgess, R., Campus, R. and Soldo, E., 2013. Woolworths Australia and Walmart US: Best practices in supply chain collaboration. Journal of Economics, Business & Accountancy Ventura, 16(1).

Berning, A., 2014. Sustainable supply chain engagement in a retail environment: the case of Woolworths food suppliers (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University).

Calabrese, A. and Corbò, M., 2015. Design and blueprinting for total quality management implementation in service organisations. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 26(7-8), pp.719-732.

FISK, R.P., 2013. Impression management 26 in services marketing: a dramaturgical perspective. Impression management in the organization, p.427.

Jahanshani, A.A., Hajizadeh, G.M.A., Mirdhamadi, S.A., Nawaser, K. and Khaksar, S.M.S., 2014. Study the effects of customer service and product quality on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Keith, S., 2012. Coles, Woolworths and the local. Locale: The Australasian-Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies, 2, pp.47-81.

Kitapci, O., Taylan Dortyol, I., Yaman, Z. and Gulmez, M., 2013. The paths from service quality dimensions to customer loyalty: An application on supermarket customers. Management Research Review, 36(3), pp.239-255.

Klaus, P. and Maklan, S., 2013. Towards a better measure of customer experience.

Mostafa, R., R. Lages, C. and Sääksjärvi, M., 2014. The CURE scale: a multidimensional measure of service recovery strategy. Journal of Services Marketing, 28(4), pp.300-310.

Oliver, R.L., 2014. Satisfaction: A behavioral perspective on the consumer. Routledge.

Orel, F.D. and Kara, A., 2014. Supermarket self-checkout service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty: Empirical evidence from an emerging market. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 21(2), pp.118-129.

Post, D. and van der Meer, H., 2015. Organisational blueprints for growth in service firms. On-line Journal Modelling the New Europe, (16), p.105.

Qiu, R., 2013. We must rethink service encounters.

Radnor, Z., Osborne, S.P., Kinder, T. and Mutton, J., 2014. Operationalizing co-production in public services delivery: The contribution of service blueprinting. Public Management Review, 16(3), pp.402-423.

Rawson, A., Duncan, E. and Jones, C., 2013. The truth about customer experience. Harvard Business Review, 91(9), pp.90-98.

 Reason, B., Løvlie, L. and Flu, M.B., 2015. Service design for business: A practical guide to optimizing the customer experience. John Wiley & Sons.

Schuh, C., Strohmer, M.F., Easton, S., Scharlach, A. and Scharbert, P., 2012. Moments of Truth. In The CPO (pp. 82-88). Apress.

Urban, W., 2013. Perceived quality versus quality of processes: a meta concept of service quality measurement. The Service Industries Journal, 33(2), pp.200-217.

Yagil, D. and Medler-Liraz, H., 2013. Moments of truth: Examining transient authenticity and identity in service encounters. Academy of Management Journal, 56(2), pp.473-497.

Zhou, Y., Huang, M., SL Tsang, A. and Zhou, N., 2013. Recovery strategy for group service failures: The interaction effects between recovery modes and recovery dimensions. European Journal of Marketing, 47(8), pp.1133-1156.

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