Shout about your achievements!

It’s not every day that you hear stories of outstanding customer service, so I was really impressed to hear a friend’s account of her interaction with sofa retailer DFS.

Severe allergies mean buying new furniture can be a minefield, so my friend felt reassured when DFS worked with her to identify what would be suitable to cover and protect her new sofa.

Delivery Day eventually arrived and space was made for the new addition.  The sofa was put in place and packaging removed.   The delivery team departed with a good job well done.

Shortly afterwards, my friend suffered a severe reaction to some of the chemicals involved in the treatment.  This was totally unforeseen, and no one’s fault – sometimes allergies can’t be predicted.  Once the immediate health issues had been resolved, DFS promptly removed the sofa.

They worked hard to find an acceptable alternative which included a different covering  requiring less protective treatment and agreed to remove all packaging several days prior to delivery to allow any fumes to disperse.

First hand feedback

A few days after hearing this story, I was seated next to the Manager of this store and recounted how impressed I was with their response .  I think it was mainly due to his intervention that the issue was resolved so promptly!

What ensued was a long conversation where I learnt a great deal about this organisation.  I subsequently checked their website and other articles to verify the facts and am impressed with their ethos.

They have embedded corporate social responsibility, with the Executive Board taking direct responsibility.  As much as possible, the business relies on supporting jobs within the UK, only buying from other countries where local skills and resources are not available.

Environmental improvements

Investment has been made in energy efficiency including installation of low energy lighting in all stores and a biomass system using waste wood left over from production.

There has been a 10% reduction in vehicle emissions following a move to more energy efficient vehicles, and there is a growing trend towards teleconference meetings which not only reduces mileage, but ensures senior management aren’t wasting hours commuting.

Delivery and storage is being rationalised, with warehouses strategically placed to ensure local mileage is kept to a minimum.  Work is ongoing to reduce waste, with DFS Head Office pledging to sending zero waste to landfill.

Community engagement

At the same time, DFS are committed to producing quality furniture that will last.  They are the only sofa manufacturer and retailer to be awarded a British Standard Kitemark and have partnered with British Heart Foundation to find new homes for second hand sofas raising £10m for them since 2012.  This makes good business sense as it allows DFS to sell new sofas whilst helping customers dispose of existing one with a clear conscience!

British Heart Foundation is not the only charity to benefit as £750,000 was raised for Children in Need and DFS is a Gold Partner for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.  In addition, local charities are frequent recipients.

DFS stepped into the breach last year when Multiyork went into administration in November.  Having purchased 8 stores, it took on the staff in those stores and paid them whilst the stores were closed for rebranding.  It has a great reputation for looking after its staff, which inspires loyalty and investment in making the business a success.  The Manager I met was a great advocate of the whole company and its ethos, even after many years’ service.

Shining a light on achievements

Some businesses promote their corporate social responsibility strongly, making them popular with both customers and staff and helping recruitment and retention.  Others, such as DFS, hide their light under a bushel, but as these issues become more mainstream, so it becomes increasingly important to shout about them and inspire other organisations to implement initiatives to reduce environmental impact and enhance support for community and staff welfare.

If your business has a strong social ethos, or you have just invested in some great energy saving or environmental projects, start talking about them.  By demonstrating what you are doing and how you are doing it, you will inspire others and together we can all make a difference!

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