Mind Your Business

Date: 26 May, 2020

Yesterday, today, tomorrow: Cathal Deavy of Tesco shares his point of view – “The in-store environment has changed and I think for the better.”



Cathal Deavy

By Cathal Deavy

Customer Director, Tesco Ireland
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Yesterday: Looking back, what is the most unexpected change you've encountered since lockdown?

The changes to in-store and the work that all of our colleagues had to do to re-orientate how we served our customers was remarkable. What I didn’t expect was to run a campaign, effectively asking customers not to shop with us, as we did for our Grocery Home Delivery service. This was absolutely necessary as we had to focus the service towards those who were most in need – we now serve 5 times more customers aged over 65 years compared to before the crisis.


From a personal point of view, I had only started working in Tesco 3 weeks before Covid-19 struck, so working from home whilst learning the organisation and getting to know new colleagues was quite unexpected. However, I now like to think of it as an accelerated induction that seems to be working quite well. Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet my colleagues and teams in the office in Dublin before decamping to home. I have been remote working one way or another over the last 10 years, so I was able to bring this experience to the team on the “working from home” journey, which was new for many. While it is easy to get carried away in the day-to-day urgency I took the time to review my 30-60-90 day plan and to ensure that I was properly on-boarding with continued 1-1 inductions and check-ins.

Today: In your day-to-day, what are  the most unforeseen tasks taking priority?

We always put the customer at the centre of everything we do and over the last 8 weeks that has not been any different. However what has changed is the frequency of feedback and insight gathering – every day we are monitoring what people are saying to us in-store (through our colleagues); on social media; in daily pulse surveys and feedback through our Customer Service Centres. In this time of unprecedented change, we have had to evolve our service to ensure that we’re continuing to deliver for our customers as best we can, and that starts with knowing what they need (or will need).


The biggest learning was what was necessary to make the store safe and the important role our colleagues play in that – the human touch that goes with all of the signage, instructions and restrictions. People on social media were equally quick to compliment our colleagues on a job well done, as they were to identify where we could do better. We re-enforced this with the daily calls to stores – the continuous evolution of best practice.

Tomorrow : Looking ahead, what are the most surprising challenges you seek to overcome?

The in-store environment has changed and I think for the better. Safety is the number one priority and we have created a more efficient shopping experience that customers are responding positively to – at the early stage of the pandemic, supermarkets were the most public places that people would visit and this brought a certain nervous tension, but with the right precautions, a friendly smile and a bit of banter we have been able to create the right atmosphere in stores. This will remain. We have also ramped up our use of technology to create better experiences, especially where customers want less contact points with products, money and people; our ‘Scan As You Shop’ service is becoming more popular as customers take more control of their shopping.


We have revised our plans for the balance of this year based on the new expectations of customers and how they shop; this will impact what we do from now and forever, and what needs to remain in place until a vaccine is found.

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