Adding Value for Customers
Thu, 12/07/2018 - 11:32
Charlie Casey, Senior Customer Performance Manager at Barclays Bank, defines his key takeaways from the Special Interest Group meeting at John Lewis’s distribution centre, noting why customer experience is always key.
I wanted to reflect on the recent collaborative Special Interest Group meeting of Customer Experience and EFQM. We had an opportunity to spend a day at John Lewis’s distribution centre in Milton Keynes with close to 50 attendees across a range of organisations. The aim of these days is to discuss latest thinking, exchange best practice and meet other members. There are always lots of key takeaways and one of the reasons I have written this article is to help with that download. In our busy working lives we don’t always get the chance to do this and before you know it the day becomes a distant memory.
Heather Holman, Magna Park Project Manager, John Lewis: We started with Putting Customers at the Heart of the Supply Chain. It has 85,500 partners across the business and the theme of the talk was yesterday’s challenge becoming today’s reality.
It is a true multi-channel offering committed to delivering the highest standards of customer experience, wherever the interaction takes place.
The scale of that challenge was quantified when reference was made to over 350,000 different products that could be handled in response to customer demand.
The change of customer mix has been factored into current store design with the enhancements to the distribution model creating more capacity. Space is of a premium so every square foot counts. Online orders have grown significantly and a week’s worth in 2009 would have been replicated in just 2 hours in 2017.
As a result of investment in supply chain, the stores have been transformed with the removal of sizeable stock rooms. Items are now replaced as they are sold (sell one, pick one) and delivered overnight, a much more efficient model. This also allows other value add services to be added to store design to enhance customer experience with beauty services, travel agents and opticians as one of the growth areas. Other key elements of progress made included:
- Significant investment in IT including the redesign of the distribution process in a modular manner which has allowed delivery at pace alongside flexibility and agility to make immediate refinements without significant downtime.
- Partners have moved from back to front of house, which has required additional training.
- Outsourcing parts of the distribution model achieving a balance that allows a cost effective model alongside consistent delivery of great service
- Value add services such as installation and removal of items as part of the overall offering.
We were the grateful recipients of this presentation during the week in which the 2017 results were announced and the headlines brought home just what a challenging market John Lewis operate in. The attached City AM article shows the recent trend for the annual profit sharing and whilst customer experience and colleague engagement remain in the forefront of the model, competition is placing pressure on financial performance and costs have to be managed efficiently.
European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Perspective
At these events we don’t always put learns into practice and Gail provided an engaging and informative presentation around the EFQM excellence model which is a framework for organisational management and designed to support competitive performance.
Participants were then able to work in groups and look at questions around segmentation and personalisation; effortless experience and measuring and monitoring customer feedback
We then moved to the second practitioner presentation of the day:
Jamie Green, Chiltern Railways
A New Route, New Way of Working and New Customer Experience
Jamie, with 24 years of experience in the rail industry, talked about the brand-new rail route to Oxford which reflected new ways of working both collaboratively with Stakeholders and within train stations. Bicester Village is a popular destination for customers and was one of the new stations built as part of the new route.
Chiltern is underpinned by pillars including Growth, Safety, People, Journey, Customers. These are key elements to the customer experience…
… especially around safety whilst exploring new ways of engagement that reflect their feedback and deliver in an innovative manner. An example is the multi lingual communication to parts of the customer base that represent high footfall and commercial return ( Arabic and Mandarin).Other aspects discussed included Station Design Consultation, which resulted in a customer-oriented, contemporary, open-plan design of new stations making staff accessible on the concourse instead of behind traditional desks, in addition to a wide selection of new features including:
- Smart Transmission Voie-Machine (TVM, English: track-to-train transmission), providing real-time train information
- Free 4G wi-fi/on-board on all stations and trains.
- Power points in waiting rooms and on trains to help commuters work as they travel
The project review identified next set of priorities and customer needs which has resulted in the introduction of 6 new train services; extended late night service from London on Friday night/early Saturday morning and an extra 5,660 seats per week.
Success has been demonstrated through commercial growth, increase in passenger numbers and customer feedback.
The closing session gave attendees an opportunity to share feedback from the day, which is vital for the design of future events.
John Lewis were fantastic hosts and we would like to thank all presenters for their time and expertise on the day. The feedback has been positive and would encourage members to make more of these opportunities which are part of the membership offering.