9 March 2020

Customer Experience Q&A and Top Tips

Hi Readers,

My name is Yvonne Quinn and I am a Learning specialist with Harvest. I have a passion for Customer experience since my first post as a customer service agent in a large banking business. The words Customer Service have now evolved to Customer experience or “CX”. Customers have a much greater expectation in today’s society from getting onto an aeroplane to ordering a new bank card using your phone or self-serving in a supermarket. Life has become much more accessible for consumers and we expect everything at our fingertips but also with a smile or tracking number. If we do get the opportunity to interact on a personal level we as the consumer seek out clarity and a pleasurable interaction at the very least.

When I work with a wide range of clients at Harvest I often provide some insight of the current customer experience and discover how this is impacting on the business either positively or negatively. Often this is high on the strategic agenda and may need to be incorporated into a people strategy.

I have been working very closely with a large fast-paced building materials organisation in Ireland with over 50 retail units to support their strategic agenda to offer consumers an enhanced experience.

Please see below a quick-fire question and answers session I conducted with Niall Carolan, the Learning and Development Manager for Chadwicks Group.

Q: We discussed supporting you with a Customer Experience programme for your employees. Can you tell me how this came about and why you needed to develop a customer experience programme?

A: We decided to look at the Customer experience and business strategy by focusing on aligning all key aspects of the business and ensure we develop a “Customer First” mindset. The journey began almost two years ago now in our Sandyford branch, our first branch to be rebranded as a part of a national project (which is still ongoing). With many different customer service offerings previously, it was decided that a bespoke training/development offering to our colleagues was the best way forward. Our branch colleagues in Sandyford really bought into the process and took part in a series of interviews, focus groups and workshops. This enabled us to really listen to what was happening at branch level to provide the best experience possible for our customers.

Q: What are the key elements of the programme?

A: The programme has a focus on three main areas; customer service/experience, sales engagement and branding & merchandising. These steps were developed during the previously mentioned workshops with branch colleagues, who were even given the responsibility of naming the programme. After much debate, we ended up on the ‘Let’s Build it Together’ programme. Over time, these three topics have grown and we are currently designing an online element of the programme, which will give our over 1,300 colleagues something further to think about in terms of the customer.

Q: What is working for the business?

A: As this is the first time we have launched a programme developed by our colleagues for our colleagues, I feel that has been a huge factor in getting ‘buy-in’ for the programme. The Chadwicks leadership team have been a huge support and have agreed to close each branch delivery as a part of a national roadshow. Without giving away all of the programme details, the branches have really embodied the 212 concept and have even had hoodies designed!

Q: How have you measured success? Can you share some wins you have had?

A: As each branch comes through the programme, they are assessed on the specific elements of the programme at branch level to achieve ‘planning permission’ (sticking with our building theme). Simple concepts have seemed to work really well here, a key focus has been to maintain our brand standards. Additional internal assessments are regularly undertaken at branch level to ensure the correct behaviours are maintained. We also empower our colleagues at branch level to select their colleague of the month, which has worked really well.

Q: When it comes to Customer Experience, how far along the journey are you?

A: I think you have given me the answer within your question really, we are on a journey. The national rebrand programme has gone from strength to strength and with the great work done, we are due to have the majority of branches completed by the end of the year. This will mark a milestone, but we are really only starting out. Developing a customer-first mindset within Chadwicks is not something that will happen overnight, but I am hugely confident we are heading in the right direction. Our job is to continue to provide our customers with industry-leading service and advice through our highly talented colleagues throughout the Chadwicks Group.

Q: Have you any advice for businesses that are just about to approach this process?

With colleagues on the front line (in customer facing roles), you have a panel of experts. Use them and ask plenty of questions, they listen to your customers every day.

Yvonne also shares below her 7 top Customer Experience tips for success:


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