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Andrew McMillan:

Andrew Mcmillan

Profile and Experience

He is currently Principal at Engaging Service, specialising in customer experience and employee engagement. He started his career as a management trainee with the John Lewis Partnership at Brent Cross. He quickly moved up through the management ranks and led a number of selling teams in different branches culminating in managing the furniture floor in the flagship Oxford Street branch.

From there he moved to the head office to take charge of the department stores' customer-centric Intelligence Team. They act as an internal business consultancy reporting on competitive strategy, product differentiation and value, catchment area demographics for new branches and customer service.

In 2000 Andrew was asked to lead on customer service for the department store division. The role not only saw him manage chain-wide customer complaints but develop JLP's market-leading culture and attitude towards customer service and sales with the 20,000 customer-facing Partners in 26 John Lewis shops across the UK. That customer-driven culture is something that has now became synonymous with the John Lewis brand and during his tenure John Lewis won awards for customer service from Which?, Verdict and Retail Week and were frequently cited in the media as a leading customer oriented organisation.

While at John Lewis, Andrew advised many other non-competing organisations on their customer service strategy and became recognised as an expert in the field. Andrew has spoken on the subject at conferences worldwide and has had many articles published in specialist publications and the national press.

Since leaving John Lewis, in addition to retail and finance, much of Andrew's work has been in the public sector and he has helped a number of local authorities develop their strategy to deliver a distinct and differentiated customer experience. He has also worked with a number of NHS Trusts to define and develop their patient experience in line with the aspirations set out in Lord Darzi's NHS Next Stage Review final report.

Recent clients include: Warrington Council, Wiltshire Council, South West Strategic Health Authority, St Andrew?s University, Bausch and Lomb, Ecclesiastical Insurance, The Met Office, Royal Bank of Scotland and Henley Business School.

Key Topics

Developing a distinct and differentiated customer experience delivered through employees to define the brand

Have you really thought about what your customers' experience when they interact with front-line staff and how they subsequently feel about your organisation? Many organisations focus on their product or processes when they think about customer experience and the interaction with their people is left to chance. Most of the numerous awards John Lewis win cite the quality of the experience delivered through their people over the quality of their products or efficiency of their services and processes. It's a potential major point of differentiation in a crowded marketplace and one that many organisations fail to capitalise upon.

Organisational development to deliver enhanced customer service

Many organisations seem to focus on efficiency of process to the point that frontline staff are always busy with tasks that take their efforts away from giving a memorable and personal level of service. Similarly, the managers of those organisations find themselves focusing on managing those tasks rather than leading and coaching their teams to deliver memorable customer service. An external focus rather than an internal focus can deliver remarkable results.

Defining and shaping organisational culture

What did your organisation set out to be for its customers at its inception? Usually, in a start-up business, high quality personal customer service is a given or the business will fail. However, as organisations grow they often lose touch with their roots and process and cost management start to dominate the agenda even though caring personal service enhances profits and reduces cost through loyalty and customer advocacy. Culture and attitude within an organisation can't be trained, but they can be shaped though an overt consciousness of what the organisation aims to achieve.

Effective internal communications

Communication within an organisation is all about making things happen or change, not just passing information down the line. So, how do you create accessible and engaging communication that delivers results rather than simply informs?

Fun at work to improve commercial success and productivity

Fun at work is often seen as frivolous and rarely finds itself on the strategic agenda. However, when appropriate, it can create an environment that reduces staff turnover and improves productivity. When a employees are really happy at work it has a very positive effect on the quality of customer service too which in turn enhances turnover and profits.

Leadership and customer service

Many organisations try to train their employees to deliver great customer service. However, the effect of these training programmes is often diluted a few days or weeks after the course has been delivered. The key to delivering a differentiated and sustainable customer experience is through leadership and coaching towards a defined, clearly articulated and measured aim.

Selling though service and relationships

So many organisations take a short term view to sales - maximise the sale today and don't think about tomorrow. However, taking a longer term view of a customer and focussing on their individual needs rather than the immediate needs of the organisation can, over time, build a degree of trust and loyalty that will transcend this recession and any more that may follow.

Managing customer complaints to enhance reputation

We've all heard the figures that a satisfied customer tells x number of people whereas a dissatisfied customer tells x+++ number of people. However, many dissatisfied customers who experience a swift positive outcome are likely to become the strongest advocates of an organisation while providing some free consultancy as to how that organisation can become more customer centric.

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