Timpson doubles customer feedback with in-store QR codes

Timpson is deploying new in-store technology to increase the number of customer reviews it generates.

The retailer is placing QR codes at the point of sale in shops around the UK in order to gather more immediate feedback from consumers, alongside generally encouraging visitors to provide an online review.

Timpson is inviting customers to scan the codes with their smartphones and review their experience of the company via a technology platform from TRUSTist, a business helping boost firms’ search engine optimisation through the use of customer comments.

Kevin Martin, Timpson’s group online director, says the number of customer comments have doubled since introducing the new method of feedback seven weeks ago in 170 shops.

“Whenever someone leaves a review it will get emailed to the area team for that particular shop, so they’ll see it immediately and they review that at a very granular level and act on it,” Martin tells Essential Retail.

“The branch colleague sees their rating and how they stand against other shops in their area, as well as how their area compares to the wider business.”

He adds that implementing such a review system is helping raise competition among staff and different areas of the business. In addition to the eponymous shoe repair and key cutting brand, the Timpson Group includes Johnson’s dry cleaning, and photograph services providers Max Spielmann and Snappy Snaps.

Bigger picture

Martin says the initiative is part of a wider company plan to modernise and develop the company’s ‘mystery shopper’ feedback system, which was originally implemented by owner Sir John Timpson in the pre-eCommerce age.

The QR code-enabled feedback was an idea from a member of staff working in one of Timpson’s circa 2,000 UK shops, and representative of the ‘upside down management’ structure the company aims to operate. This concept is used to describe how the business gives individual shopkeepers the authority to serve their customers in the way they feel is most suitable instead of issuing a heavy-handed mandate from head office.

The TRUSTist platform gives shoppers the choice of leaving reviews for Timpson’s internal retail teams, for Google, or for Trustpilot – or all three.

Noting the importance of gathering more customer feedback for use on Google search or brand verification tool Trustpilot, Martin comments: “We have a myriad of services across all our brands, and if someone is searching online for the services we offer, we want our shops to show up.

“This programme of encouraging more reviews will help that. We are also asking for Trustpilot reviews as that provides a brand overview.”

Aside from tills, general IT infrastructure and the online business, Timpson arguably conveys a tech-lite offering in comparison to businesses operating in other sectors of retail such as fashion, grocery, and electricals. But Martin argues that senior management will invest in technology when it suits the business and its people, rather than tech for tech’s sake as some other retailers have perhaps been guilty of in the past.

Indeed, the IT and eCommerce teams have launched an array of forward-thinking rapid collection and self-service photograph printing services in recent years.

“The tech is certainly there but we make sure it doesn’t drive out the culture and our way of doing things,” he notes, adding there is “no way” IT would be implemented if there was a chance of upsetting Timpson’s people-first mantra.

Martin says the QR codes for customer feedback collection are expected to be rolled out to all Timpson group stores across the UK in due course.