The great British Pub. Whether you live or have ever visited the UK, you are likely to have frequented many. If you are looking for a quiet romantic place to meet up for a drink; a location to watch the football with your mates; or a venue to take the family for Sunday lunch, the multi purpose experience maker that is the British pub can tick most boxes. Like many, the industry has struggled over the last decade for a variety of reasons. Increased duty on alcohol combined with tightening wallets/purses has seen many public houses across the land shut up shop. According to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the UK boasted 60,100 pubs in 2002. By 2012, the number had declined to 49,433. In 2014, a staggering number of 28 pubs are still being closed every week.
Although it is easy to point the finger of blame at the government and the economy, it must not be ignored that the behaviour of the British consumer has changed radically. What they/we expect from a pub is on the whole different in 2014 to 2002. We expect the experience we have in a pub to meet and sometimes exceed our expectations. We want to feel welcome; enjoy a wide variety of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages; dine on good value but well cooked food; relax in a beer garden on a sunny day; for many a pub is no longer just about beer – it is about the end to end experience. This Customer Experience Review is the first I have conducted on a pub – the Doric Arch in Euston. How will it fare?
|Date Review Conducted||30th July 2014|
|Pub Visited||Fullers Doric Arch, 1 Eversholt Street, Euston Square, London NW1 1DN|
|CX Review Total Score||37/50|
One of the most respected names in the pub trade is Fullers. Fuller’s Brewery (Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C.) is an independent family brewery founded in 1845 and based in London. With close to 400 pubs from Birmingham to the Isle of Wight, Fullers pubs come in all shapes and sizes. The Fullers logo contains three words – ‘Quality – Service – Pride’. One assumes that they strive to achieve these three things – as always, this constitutes a promise to customers; an expectation that on visiting a Fullers pub we should expect to receive great quality products with excellent customer service from employees proud to work for the Fullers brand. Fullers website makes a number of important statements to prospective employees. I would like to share two of these statements with you:
Our aim is simple: We want to be the best. How do we achieve this? We make sure we have the very best people working for us. Passion and pride for our products and our customers are a must.
We’re progressive. Yes, we are extremely proud of our heritage, but we’re always looking to develop and push ourselves forward, whether that be through new methods of creating our beers to creating unique and memorable experiences in our pubs
I am sure you would agree that this sounds great. Passion for customers. Memorable experiences in our pubs. As I approached the Doric Arch pub in Euston last week, I wondered whether or not I would get the sense that these ambitions are being realised or if they are just words on a website. Let the review begin!
Accessibility – CX Review Score 7/10
In my review process, the definition of accessibility is ‘how easy was it for me to do what I wanted to do’ with the organisation I have chosen to transact with. I have awarded Fullers Doric Arch 7 out of 10 for this category. If you have ever visited Euston railway station, you would be forgiven for not knowing that the Doric Arch existed. Having a pub close to a railway station is a sensible move. With a constant flow of commuters and tourists, the potential footfall is significant. This is dependant on your pub being situated in a desirable location. There is little that Fullers can do about the slightly unappealing situation that the Doric Arch finds itself in. Named after the famous Arch that fronts Euston station, the pub is based in a nondescript building in what can be best described as an alleyway between the bus stops and the train concourse.
Unless you walk down the ‘alleyway’ you would not necessarily know it is there. Additionally, the pub suffers from being located on the first floor – from street level all you can see are stairs going up or down – it is a difficult location to entice potential customers into. The stairs lead to another problem. This is not a venue for those that are unable to use stairs – whether you have children in a buggy or are unable to walk, the pub’s accessibility is limited. The real shame is that it means the majority of people walking past the Doric Arch will have no idea what it is like inside.
I have been visiting Euston station for the last 8 years on a regular basis. This is the first time I have ever stepped inside the Doric Arch. On doing so, I was pleasantly surprised. Nicely furnished, the pub has a clean, traditional and almost homely feel to it. As soon as I got to the top of the stairs I started to question why I had never been in before! I decided to find a table before ordering something to eat and drink. This created my next problem. Like many others, when I visit a pub, coffee shop or restaurant whilst travelling alone, I like to do some work. I therefore am keen to find a spot where I can sit next to a plug socket. Finding one in the Doric Arch was a challenge. I eventually found one on the wall next to a high table with bar stools. Not really where I wanted to sit, but my only option. The lack of plug sockets is a weakness in my opinion and one that may affect my decision to re-visit. (Please note: since originally posting this review, I have been advised that the Doric Arch has 17 plug sockets – when I visited, it was obvious that is what I was looking for, yet neither member of staff offered to help. The 17 sockets are not that easy to find in my experience!)
Although a small pub, I could see two TV screens. On the day I visited the Doric Arch, an England cricket test match was in full flow. Many of the customers were glued to the TV screens – a good reason to visit the Doric Arch if you like that sort of thing. The sound was not on, so the TVs did not seem detrimental to the experience of those who did not want to watch them. The rest of the experience was as you would expect as I ordered at the bar; ate and drank; and finally settled my bill at the bar. All in all, a good score of 7, but not really a score that looks to create a memorable experience.
Range/Choice – CX Review Score 8/10
For range and choice I have awarded the Doric Arch a score of 8 out of 10. Fullers are almost better known for the quality of their beer than they are anything else and the Doric Arch does not disappoint. If you want a decent pint before boarding a train to the North of England, you would find it hard to beat it. Complemented by a good range of soft drinks, the Doric Arch is also able to serve you up a freshly brewed Cappuccino or Latte – I am not sure how many potential customers know that. When you consider what a nice environment the pub is, if you just want a coffee, the Doric Arch is a far better location to enjoy one than the alternative venues elsewhere in and around the station. The food choice is also good. A nice simple menu on one sheet of paper offers a variety of starters, mains and deserts that will appeal to most. There is also a children’s menu In my eight years of regularly visiting Euston station, I would conclude that the Doric Arch is the best place to enjoy a drink and a meal within the station grounds.
People – CX Review Score 7/10
Let me remind you of one of the ambitions stated on Fullers website – ‘Passion and pride for our products and our customers are a must’. Perhaps my biggest criticism of my experience at the Doric Arch relates to its staff. The first thing I noticed on approaching the bar was the lack of engagement between the two staff members and customers. The bar tender appeared almost disinterested, whilst neither member of staff raised a smile. There was no warm welcome to customers entering the pub. It was only on my approach to the bar that the lady serving me looked up and smiled. She was perfectly pleasant from that point on, but I feel that there is some way to go before I would class their behaviour as being passionate about customers. A bit more warmth, engagement and friendliness from the Doric Arch’s people will go a long way to making a good pub an even better one.
Value – CX Review Score 8/10
From a value perspective, the Doric Arch scores well. In many cases, when at an airport, service station or train station, consumers are charged inflated prices. The Doric Arch will serve you drink and food at as competitive a price as anywhere in London. You can quite comfortably have a nice three course meal and a drink for £25- £30. The food is good – not great, but good. The Doric Arch is good value for money, increasing the likelihood of a return visit.
How did it make me feel? CX Review Score 710
When I left the Doric Arch to catch my train back to Chester, I considered how I felt about my 90 minute visit. The best word I could use to describe it was ‘ok’. I thought the Doric Arch was ‘ok’. This might not sound very good on first reflection, but ‘ok’ is not ‘bad’! I was pleasantly surprised by it. Unlike the alternative venues in and around Euston, the Doric Arch is a nice place to go – but it is not a great place to go. I was not excited by it, yet I was not disappointed either. Would I prefer to spend my time waiting for a train in the Doric Arch than other restaurants, pubs or coffee shops in Euston? The answer is yes. Would I like the Doric Arch to be more engaging? The answer is yes? Would I like the Doric Arch to have more plug sockets? The answer is yes? Do I feel the Doric Arch is passionate about customers? The answer is ‘not enough’. Is the Doric Arch capable of creating memorable experiences? The answer is ‘it has the potential to do so’. This is a good pub, but it has the potential to be much better.
Would I use the Doric Arch again? Maybe
The killer question – will I go back? It took me 8 years to try the Doric Arch but I doubt it will be another 8 years before I try it again. Although I am likely to re-visit the pub, my answer to the killer question is ‘Maybe’. It all depends. I am not left with an overriding feeling of warmth that compels me to want to go back. If I just want to grab a coffee, it is unlikely. If I have a little more time on my hands then it is more likely. If I could be confident I could get a comfortable seat near to a plug socket then I am almost certain to be a regular customer. As always, my reviews are subjective – they are based on my personal opinion and my view as a Customer Experience specialist. I think that if you visit the Doric Arch for the first time, you may well go back. A little more attention to detail may make the ‘maybe’ become a ‘definitely’.
Very interesting review, Ian.
It is disappointing that customer service is often more a function of the individual employee rather than evidence that the business has clearly defined systems eg in the way customers are treated. This is especially so in this case where no-one is applying the company mantra of “wanting to be the best”. Although it is such a vaguely worded statement it would be difficult ever to properly achieve it.
You do wonder if they would be better not saying so much. Your experience was decent after all. Maybe there is little wrong with the aspiration of reasonableness?
Having said this, looking at Wetherspoons website – they offer “the very best customer experience” together with “superb quality in their food and drink”!
Once again, I really do believe that whatever Wetherspoons offer – and they are very decent pubs, using competitive pricing, “superb food” would not be most people’s view!
Marketing which is a fundamental part of general business practice, should surely be about honesty and joined up thinking! Fullers etc could use “competitive pricing” in their mission statements. This may help them.
Finally, I am reminded of the restaurant entrepreneur Russell Norman’s comment recently, to paraphrase “you can often overcome food problems with great customer service. But poor customer service can not usually be sorted with great food!”.
As you say reviews are necessarily personal things, but offerings such as yours, come with much more authority than those on say Tripadvisor.
Keep up the good work!
Many thanks for taking the time to respond Adrian – once again we are in agreement. Your kind words are much appreciated.
Thank you for the review but i do feel that if reviews get released onto a blog, they should give a more correct perpective, especially if it was stated that it coud be ” the difference if they would return”. We only have two t.v’s not over three as i really do not want to be regarded as a sports pub. The biggest point is, we have a grand 17 plug sockets to access available to anyone, we do have a lot of business clientele that come into the pub to work whilst waiting for trains and this was a major piece of correction during our refurbishment in may. I do believe that customer comments are great to get an overall point of view and feedback about your business, which can be useful. But when the comments may not be completely correct, this could protentially be harmful to our business. Many may read this on Twitter and get the idea that they can not use a plug socket, that may stop customers coming in. This is why i would like to correct this today on your blog.
Hi Zoe – many thanks for taking the time to read the review. As I say at the end of the review, it is important to point out that my process is based entirely on my opinion – everyone that reads them is absolutely able to disagree with my perspective.
However, when I do make an error, I am very happy to correct it. I have therefore adjusted the post to reflect that you have two and not three TVs. I will also re-iterate that the TVs by no means negatively effect the experience of customers who do not wish to watch them.
As far as plug sockets go, I have again amended the review to reflect the fact you have 17. However, it is important for me to restate that I could only find one. It was quite obvious I was looking for a plug socket, but at no point did any member of staff look to come from behind the bar to help me. For my review scores to be higher, I would want the employees of organisations I interact with to be constantly looking to see if customers need help in any way. Always being ‘switched on’ to this is tough, but is what can make the difference between being good or being great.
Finally, I must say that this review is a good one – the experience that your pub is offering is good. Today I sampled a competitor pub in Euston – it is not a patch on the Doric Arch. If you want to go from good to great though, there is an opportunity to do so.
Thank you for amending these issues, it is much appriciated. I fully understand that all comments are personnel to each individual and i will address what has been brought to my attention. I am pleased to know we have good standing within the area.