Mary Portas inspires shoe review

Rachel Clacher

March 06, 2013

Posted in:
Rachel Clacher

A favourite bit of weekend reading is Mary Portas’ shop review in the Telegraph Magazine. It’s fun comparing notes, to see whether I agree. Generally I do. And it was very interesting to pretend to be the great Portas herself recently.

Three generations of my family had one objective on a February half-term shopping trip: to each buy a pair of boots. We became a boot-buying task force – committed, focussed, determined… if a bit diverse in age and attention-span.

We had five shops to visit, and so decided to rate them a la Portas. And what transpired was that our collective reaction to each shop was not determined by whether a purchase had been made or not, but how we were dealt with.

Top of the list but last to visit was LK Bennett. The sales assistant couldn’t have been more friendly (in that perfect not-too-friendly way) more helpful, or more informed. What was pleasingly absent was that frosty superiority that can come when gorgeous young things have to deal with those of us at and beyond the middle-aged spread.

As we rated our experiences over a coffee later, Hobbs, Ecco and Jones came a joint second (which we know is a bit of a copout but we couldn’t decide…). Hobbs actually deserves a merit for putting up with all four of us expressing opinions in a very small space; at Ecco their informed and charming staff took extra special care of my mother; and Jones’ offered choice and sheepskin insoles.

Trailing behind the others by a fair way was a shoe company heralded as a ‘leading brand in design and craftsmanship’. Despite it being able to fulfil more of our needs as it has a children’s department, the one purchase we made was in spite of, and not because of, the staff who served us. The choice for the children was limited, and lack of interest or engagement with them was startling; we had to ask for assistance; certain items weren’t priced, and then when they arrived were over our budget; and we all felt in our own ways that we were ‘troubling’ their staff, distracting them from their till huddle.

When high streets are struggling and when anything and everything can be bought online it is more important than ever to guarantee that every real interaction with a real person is as impressive as it can be.

My local Co-op isn’t Fortnum and Mason, but the staff make me feel as though it could be, and so I return time and again. LK Bennett looked after us in a way that the quality of their offering would suggest, and so I will return. The shoe company (that shall remain nameless) gave us a shoddy welcome and so we will not go back. People are more important than ever, and some stores would do well to remember that. Mary Portas we agree.

Rachel Clacher is the co-founder of Moneypenny, the UK’s leading telephone answering service. In 2000, Rachel and her brother Ed Reeves pooled their convictions about customer service and teamwork – and Moneypenny began. Today, Moneypenny’s strength lies in its extraordinary people and a passion to exceeding expectations. The exceptional calibre of Moneypenny’s team and the technology that supports them has been recognised by a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Innovation and being nominated by the Sunday Times as one of the Best 100 Places to Work. 08000 199 944.

Author: Rachel Clacher is the co-founder of Moneypenny, the UK’s leading telephone answering service. In 2000, Rachel and her brother Ed Reeves pooled their convictions about customer service and teamwork – and Moneypenny began. More