M&S and CX consequence of data-driven strategy

For those who don’t know Marks & Spencer (M&S) it is one of the leading retailers, with 1,300+ stores in the UK and overseas. M&S sells clothing, home products and food, online and in store.

M&S has been recognised for great Customer Service and overall Customer Experience, always featuring amongst the leaders of the CX rankings in the UK. And indeed they are also recognised by the quality of their products.

I have been a customer of M&S for some years now, and frequently have lunch at the M&S Food closest to our office. I’ve been a great fan of their stores and advocate of the quality of their products, and customer service.

Back in Jan 2017, UK’s most famous airline, British Airways (BA), announced they were going to stop offering free snacks and drinks in the short haul flights within Europe, and were introducing a “M&S on board” menu.

I’m also a great fan and advocate of BA, and a Bronze level member of their Executive Club. A few weeks ago, was flying to Porto (Portugal) and decided to buy a coke and a packet of my favourite nuts: cashews.

Surprisingly, the cashews were awful. They were stale and really tasted bad. Such that I could actually not finish the small packet. After touch-down in Porto, I decided to let M&S know, via Twitter.

It only took 1 hour for M&S to come back, and do the right thing – as I expected from a company that really goes the extra mile when it comes to Customer Service and Customer Experience.


M&S apologised, publicly, and asked if I could get in touch, and provide my details. I’ve sent my address and email by DM. To which they responded “Thanks Luis, we’ve passed this onto our Food Team and they’ll be in touch with you directly“.

This was a Thursday, and I came back to London on Sunday. To my surprise, a letter from M&S was already waiting for me in the mailbox, with not only a follow up, but also a £5 gift card – notice that the packet of cashews cost £1.60


What is impressive is not only the M&S speed, transparency and openness but also the evident link that must exist between the different teams (e.g. customer service, food) and channels (e.g. social, mail). I’m sure this is not by chance.

I must associate this with the M&S strategy since a few years. M&S boss, Steve Rowe, said last year that he wanted to turn the retailer into a “data-driven business” and that customer data should be shared “as far and wide as possible” within the business.

Nathan Ansell, Global Director of Loyalty, Customer Insight and Analytics at M&S, also said that it was “hugely important to show [to employees] there is a direct link between a brilliant customer experience and delivery of results”. And that part of his job was “to make sure everyone has the right access to customer data, so people can make the best possible choices“.

I think the experience that I share above is a good example of what the M&S leaders were saying, and a proof that they are actually implementing it. And that indeed, having the right access to customer data, helps everyone make better, and informed, decisions. And ultimately deliver an outstanding customer experience.


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