sparMy wife and I have been running our own village shop for over 20 years and have always looked at how we can do it better.

Our first supplier was Palmer & Harvey and, after 10 years of good service, change swept across their organisation and they forgot who we were. After several weeks of an unacceptable service level we found a new supplier, Londis.

Nearly a decade later, having become used to a supportive relationship, the same problem arose – Londis seemed to forget that we are the customer. After 12 months of challenge, when fewer and fewer issues seemed to be able to be resolved, we started our search for a new supply partner.

This time we have taken six months to work out who we needed to undertake this important role. After all, if we are changing symbol group we will be putting their name over the door. We eventually chose Spar as their offer best fits what we need. Only time and experience will inform us if we have made the right choice, so I will report back on just what the new relationship delivers.

The lesson to take from our supplier-side experience is also some thing we need to focus on our own customer experience: getting it right every time will grow loyalty. Get it wrong and they are gone!