B&Q puts online contacts to work

Published:  12 January, 2011

LONDON: B&Q is using information gathered from on-line chat rooms on its web site to strengthen customer input into its business decisions.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, said in the Financial Times, that B&Q is recruiting a new "customer officer" whose role will include overseeing "both what the customer is directly telling us" through online comments and forums, "and what their transactions are telling us".

Mr Cheshire, who developed B&Q's on-line presence, said the company has been gathering comments about its products and services every month from its own B&Q Voice website, as well as online discussion forums and chatrooms.

It is now planning to analyise the data in a new joint venture with Beyond Analysis, a London data consultancy, to strengthen its understanding of the sales information coming from its stores.

"This will really create a much, much sharper data-mining capability, and we'll have all the information coming together in one place, with a customer officer whose job is to make sure that we are absolutely listening to the customer," he aid.

Mr Cheshire, in an interview with the Financial Times in New York, said the retailer has also set up an advisory "youth board" of 16- to 20-year-olds to provide it with insights into the ideas of a future DIY shoppers, and to encourage its managers to remain receptive to input from customers.

"The job is to meet three or four times a year, and ask them, 'OK, if you were B&Q, what would you be doing?' Particularly about new products, and ideas, but also our sustainability agenda."

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