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This week's Secret Shopper programme seems to have resulted in some much-needed improvement to CSL's customer service, but the sofa retailer also needs to look at its web presence.
It seems that there are plenty of negative comments about CSL online, including an entire website devoted to complaints about the company. So what can CSL do about this?
If you search for 'CSL sofas' on Google, the first page contains three negative results (there were four yesterday, but the listing for the Secret Shopper show has pushed one onto page two), and there are more on the next page.
The positioning of the CSL Complaints site means that, after the results for CSL's website, the first thing searchers see is a site with 1,000+ complaints about the retailer.
If you look at these sites, you'll find plenty of stories from unhappy customers about poor service, faulty sofas, warranty issues and more. Not the best advert for the firm.
It isn't just CSL though, several other retailers in this sector have plenty of negative comments about them online.
The results for 'DFS sofas' contain a couple of negative listings on page one of Google, with more on the next page:
The same is true for SCS:
What can CSL do about this?
Improve customer service
Even with the best customer service, a company selling the volumes of products that CSL does will never be able to satisfy everyone, but it seems there was plenty of room for improvement in its sales process and after-sales customer service. The culture of low wages and high commission will incentivise sales staff, but it can create problems later.
The most important step is to improve customer service and after-sales support to reduce the number of customer complaints, and perhaps Mary Portas will have helped with this issue.
This is a long-term measure, and will not make the negative comments go away, but it may produce some positive comments to balance the complaints.
Respond to complaints online
In the programme, CSL MD Jason Tyldesley said it wasn't worth the effort responding to the comments on the CSL Complaints site, but I'm not sure this is the best approach.
If potential customers can see that CSL is actively responding to complaints, then this gives a far better impression. Just ignoring the site and hoping it will go away is not the answer.
Occupy as much of the first page of Google as possible
There are several ways to show your brand in a Google search. By taking a wider view and looking at the different ways you can appear naturally within the main search, you can occupy more of the first page of searches for your brand and related terms.
For example, rival furniture retailers DFS and Furniture Village both have a Google Maps result when I search for them, but not CSL, even though there is a store less then ten miles from me. Maps results rank highly in Google, and also help to direct users to the nearest store.
CSL could also look to get more video content up on YouTube, as well as images, as both can rank well.
Improve its social media presence
A well managed Twitter account could be an excellent customer service tool for the company. CSL is on Twitter, but 48 tweets since August and just 90 followers suggest that there is plenty of room for improvement.
The same seems to be true of its Facebook account. As with Twitter this provides another opportunity for a Google listing, as well as improving customer relations, but CSL doesn't seem to have made much effort, with just six updates since August.