Customer Service at Marks and Spencer

Topics: Customer service, Michael Marks, Customer Pages: 34 (10220 words) Published: April 23, 2012
Assignment 3

Marks and Spencer is one of the UK's leading retailer business organisations. They have 21 million people visiting their stores each week. They sell clothing, home products, as well as food, responsibly sourced from around 2,000 suppliers globally. Their clothing and home ware sales account for 49% of their business while their food sales account for 51%. Now more than ever, they are also known for their green credentials as a result of their five-year eco plan, Plan A, which will see them, amongst other things, become carbon neutral and send no waste to landfill by 2012.

This assignment requires me to compile a customer service training manual for Marks and Spencer. It will include a background to the company, their mission statement and their charter. I will then design the training manual, define quality service, discuss standards of excellence and codes of practice. I will then discuss the current legislation in terms of Customer Service. I will provide a conclusion and a detailed bibliography at the end of the assignment.

Company Background:
Marks and Spencer was founded by a partnership between Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer. On his arrival in England, Marks worked for a company in Leeds, called Barran, which employed refugees. In 1884 he met Isaac Dewhurst, the owner of a Leeds warehouse, which resulted in him opening his own stall on Kirkgate Market, in Leeds. The next few years saw Michael Marks open market stalls in many locations around the North West of England. In 1894, Thomas Spencer invested in Marks' activities and they opened their first store, in partnership, at 20, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester.

Marks and Spencer made its reputation in the early 20th century on a policy of only selling British-made goods (a policy eventually discontinued in 2002). It entered into long term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold clothes and food under the "St Michael" brand, that was introduced 1928. The “St Michael” honours Michael Marks. It also accepted the return of unwanted items, giving full cash refunds if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased, which was unusual for the time. It adopted a 90-day returns policy in 2005 but on 12 April 2009, the refund policy changed once again to 35 days.

By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the "St Michael" label. M&S lingerie, women's clothes and girls' school uniforms were branded under the "St Margaret" label until the whole range of general merchandise became “St Michael”. Simon Marks, son of Michael Marks, died in 1964. Israel Sieff took over as Chairman and in 1968; John Salisse became the company Director. The company put its main emphasis on quality, including a 1957 stocking size measuring system. But for most of its history it also had a reputation for offering fair value for money. When this reputation began to waver, it encountered serious difficulties. Arguably, M&S has historically been an iconic retailer of 'British Quality Goods'. The uncompromising attitude towards customer relations was summarised by the 1953 slogan: "The customer is always and completely right!”

All international shops are operated under franchise, with the exception of those in the Republic of Ireland and Hong Kong which remain in company ownership.

Marks & Spencer's profits peaked in financial year 1997/1998. At the time it was seen as a continuing success story, but with hindsight it is considered that during Sir Richard Greenbury's tenure as head of the company, profit margins were pushed to untenable levels, and the loyalty of its customers was seriously eroded. The rising cost of using British suppliers was also a burden, as rival retailers increasingly imported their goods from low-cost countries, but Marks & Spencer's belated switch to overseas suppliers undermined a core part of its appeal to the public. Another factor was the company's...
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