OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us stores to stay open round the clock til Christmas

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Wayne, N.J. — Toys “R” Us said Monday it will keep stores nationwide open for the 112 hours before Christmas, with doors staying open from 6 a.m. Dec. 20, to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

This is the second consecutive year that the retailer has remained open for 24-hour shopping in the days leading up to Christmas.

The Toys “R” Us flagship in New York City’s Times Square is staying open even longer, having been open since 6 a.m. on Dec. 16 and not closing until Christmas Eve.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Consumers likely to share opinions on customer service

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — A survey released Monday by Spherion Staffing Services said that when consumers have a positive customer service experience, they are more likely than ever before to share their opinions than in previous years, especially via social media, online review sites, and with the company itself.

The survey showed that when consumers have a good customer service experience, 47% are likely to tell a company representative; 17% will express their opinions via social media; and 15% will write a review. The same survey from 2010 showed that only 40% of consumers were likely to share a great experience with a company representative — proving that consumers are becoming more vocal with companies they interact with.

If consumers have a poor experience, 36% are willing to write a complaint directly to the company, and one in four will express their opinions on social media. Nineteen percent, the same statistic as last year, will choose to write a review online.

In addition, about 10% are even willing to reach out to the media about their experiences. If they’re unhappy, 9% will contact the media to report it, up 1% from last year. Those who have great experiences are less likely to make news, with 5% calling for media attention, also up 1% from last year.

"Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion’s senior VP of the franchise and licensee division. "So many companies have cut corners in this economy when it comes to customer service, but the impact of those decisions is greater than ever as people decide to speak up about who treats them well … and who doesn’t."

Most consumers also feel that companies could stand to improve their customer service skills. When asked what percentage of their experiences was good over the last several months, 41% of people had good experiences less than 60% of the time. Only 26% had positive experiences 80% of the time or more, a statistic that fell from 32% last year.

Consumers are also remaining loyal to the businesses that treat them well. Ninety-seven percent said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service, similar to last year’s 98.6%. However, once their trust is lost, it’s hard to earn back. Twenty-two percent want a simple apology, 10% want a complete refund, and 8% would want incentives or coupons. Forty-six percent, however, said that it would take all three, which means earning repeat business after a bad experience is costly and time consuming. Fifteen percent said absolutely nothing would amend their bad experience.

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REAL ESTATE

Streetsense designs new La Madeleine prototype

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bethesda, Md. — Archiecture and design firm Streetsense said Monday it has created an all-new interior design scheme for La Madeleine French Country Cafe, a national chain of French-themed fast-casual restaurants.

A 1,194-sq.-ft. restaurant using the new prototype design is now open at Northpark Center in Dallas, while another is under construction in Tulsa, Okla. La Madeleine also has engaged Streetsense to design two new stores planned for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, one in Tysons Corner, Va., and one in Silver Spring, Md.

The first new design prototype is the recently opened La Madeleine in Northpark Center in Dallas, and is considered the prototype for all new stores located within shopping malls. The Tulsa store, now under construction, is free-standing and has an all-new exterior storefront.

In Tysons Corner Center, one of the largest shopping centers on the East Coast, La Madeleine will move from its current perimeter location to a 3,500-sq.-ft. interior space on the mall’s second level. Like the new store in Northpark, the Tysons location will feature a refreshed design with lighter materials, colors and textures, while retaining the restaurant’s classic French bistro feel.

The Silver Spring store will occupy 2,800 sq. ft. on the street level of an existing office building in the heart of the revitalized downtown. A new interior will be accompanied by a generous outdoor seating area.

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