UK book, ereader, stationery and magazines chain WHSmith has come bottom in a major survey of customer satisfaction with major British main street retailers. In a result that will do the clicks-and-mortar book chain model no favors, UK consumer group Which? placed WHSmith bottom of 100 retailers in its listing of “Best and worst high street shops 2014,” based on an opinion poll of 12,054 respondents on price, products, service and after sales/returns based on their last visit.
“WH Smith came last for the second year in a row, with shoppers complaining of ‘crowded stores with limited stock’,” stated the Which? press announcement. Customer satisfaction with WHSmith polled at 55%. Added Which? editor Richard Headland: “We’ve seen time and again that people won’t settle for bad customer service and this is supported by the results of our high street shops survey. Stores giving people the care and attention they want have happy customers who return.”
WHSmith issued a statement in response, covered in The Guardian and elsewhere: “The 104 customers that commented on WHSmith in this survey are not reflective of the 12 million customers that visit our stores each week, where our own independent survey of over a thousand customers continues to rate us highly.”
WHSmith ideally ought to be a major bridgehead for widespread popular uptake of ereaders, with a strong relationship with ereader platform Kobo. However, it was also the butt of the Daily Mail-led moral panic against alleged easy availability of extreme ebook porn. And judging by this latest poll, it could be doing a lot more to optimize its incumbent position on the British high street. Amazon in the UK will be losing little sleep over this Which? poll result.