Good, very good – but not quite seamless

John Lewis

Everyone seems to love John Lewis. It wins customer service awards all the time and is one of the most beloved household retail brands in the UK.

I’m not a very ‘household’ sort of person, which is why my trip to the High Wycombe branch this weekend was actually the first time I’d been in a John Lewis store for at least five years. The range was excellent – and yes, I bought a few things I didn’t need.

Interestingly, I also tried to buy a suit but they didn’t have the right size of trousers in stock. However, the sales assistant was a beacon of helpfulness – he checked their website, found out they had the right size available there and placed an order online while I stood at his side. All very multichannel, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Well done, that retailer.

The one hiccup came from the new (and hideously expensive, but that’s not really their fault) Herman Miller office chair I also bought while in the store. It arrived today and, sadly, one of the adjustment levers was broken.

Naturally, my first thought was to call their customer service line. I promptly Googled the number and called, only to be told that this helpline number, the one provided on, was for customers only, and for purchases in-store I had to call the branch separately.

Oh dear.

It’s not a huge issue – I called the branch, spoke to a very helpful young woman (with, by the by, an unbelievably sexy light Scottish accent. *shudder*) and quickly arranged to have the broken chair taken away and a new one delivered.

But it’s noteworthy that even John Lewis, the brand by which others are measured when it comes to service, isn’t yet what those in the trade would call an ‘omnichannel’ retailer. Like most shoppers, I don’t see John Lewis and as two separate retail brands, so it was quite surprising that they apparently are treated as such internally.

Overall, I would still rate the service I received as a solid 8.5/10 (notwithstanding any hassles I may yet have over the delivery of my replacement chair), but not the more coveted 9 or 10. And if even the best service brand in the UK isn’t omnichannel yet, I dread to think what the others are like.