Monthly Archives: February 2019

Loose Ends Christmas Donation

Loose Ends

Each Christmas we send Christmas cards to our clients and our team members across the UK making a donation to a charity on behalf of each person that receives a card. This Christmas we took some time researching local charities looking for one we could support. We looked for charities local to our head office in Newbury but also asked our teams if they had any charities that meant something to them. A name that popped up through research and through one of our team members Bex, who volunteers at the charity, was Loose Ends a drop in centre in Newbury that serves meals to the homeless and vulnerable.

What was initially started by Richard Westall as a sandwich on a Sunday now prepares and serves on average 140 healthy meals a week to those who drop in. Almost 30 years after it began there are now over 80 volunteers who give over 6,000 hours of their time a year to provide a safe and friendly space where people can socialise. The team not only provide hot meals to those who attend, they have also handed out approximately 2,600 food and toiletries parcels in 2017/18.

We visited Loose Ends this week to see for ourselves the great work that goes on in Morton Hall at Newbury Baptist Church. We arrived just as they received a food donation and were met by Julie Cobbett who showed us around the hall and the facilities that they have. It was clear to see that the volunteers who help have everything organised right down to the last can and have created a welcoming friendly environment where anyone would feel instantly comfortable.

The space allows their clients who are either homeless, ‘sofa surfing’, may have addictions or are on low incomes to come together and have the chance to receive help from other groups in an informal setting. Loose Ends works closely with other similar organisations to make sure that everyone that attends the sessions can be offered as much help as they need or would like.

After visiting the hall and speaking to the volunteers we are proud to support, for another year, such a hard working local charity. We recommend a visit to their website so you can read more about the great work they do during the 5 days a week they are open. Their website also has information on how you could help the charity through donations of either money, food, clothing, other useful items or even your time. Loose Ends also has an online wish list that you can order from that provides the team with exactly what they need to help those that attend the drop in sessions.

During this cold and snowy weather that has hit us recently in Newbury it is good to know that there are people out there willing to give their time to ensure that the more vulnerable people in society get a warm meal and are cared for. Loose Ends say that they exist to “show love to those in Newbury area who are in need through homelessness, addiction dependency and poverty with the aim of enabling them to access a healthier, balanced and productive life” and from what we saw the day we visited, they seem to be doing a very good job of it.

For more information on Loose Ends please visit their website.

Customers want service not sci-fi from high street retailers


We all know the 2019 outlook for brick and mortar retail looks troubled and indeed it’s barely a month into the year and we’ve already seen Patisserie Valerie collapse into administration. Are we surprised? You only need to look at the makeup of the high street to see the extraordinary amount of competition facing a business like this coupled with the fact that the business hadn’t changed much since its launch. It needed to adapt and if brick and mortar retailers focus on aligning their strategies to current market conditions and take on board what customers say, a one size fits all decline isn’t inevitable.

We recently conducted a survey ‘Service, not Sci-Fi’ that looked at the reasons people were turning away from retailers but also how they might turn back. While cost cutting and staff consolidation might be the first response to disappointing figures, our survey showed this could have an immediate detrimental impact on sales. Our study found that 81% of UK shoppers felt that personal touch had disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain. Almost a third (32%) blamed an over-reliance on technology for this decline. And half of those polled thought that companies in the UK use technology to save money, rather than improve customer experience.

Despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want technology to sacrifice human opinion and experience. Only 30% said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, 22% would like to see smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, 16% desire a VR changing room, while 14% want AR for visualise products at home and 9% seek a talking robotic assistant.

When asked what makes a great brick and mortar shopping experience, half of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor; staff that know the products (49%) and staff that go the extra mile (47%). Coupled with this, 61% of the nation would prefer to deal with someone face-to-face when complaining, while 59% liked a human interaction when enquiring or trying to find out more about a product and 73% wanted to see someone when being issued with a refund.

And back to the impact on the bottom line – a third of Brits say that the personal touch is more likely to encourage them make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22%) claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant, incrementally adding to sales. Over a third (34%) of shoppers stated that a poor experience has driven them to buy from another retailer.

The research also highlights the impact of the decline of local retailers, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them and 16% confessing to preferring talking through a purchase with someone in-store, while a quarter reveal that online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop. The convenience of a store’s location is also important according to 43% of respondents which means that retailers should consolidate their estates. Many will notice immediate effects. This only emphasises the need to carefully consider the experience provided in-store and whether their staff can deliver the expected experience.

With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81% of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping, businesses need to focus on their customer experience strategies to keep people coming back for more.

To read the article please visit The Drum.

To read more about our Service not Sci-fi research please visit the Gekko website.

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