case-study-customer-care-insights-frank-downWe recently completed a project for a family company who had developed a large pub, restaurant and retail shop business over many years.

The founding couple had decided to retire and hand the business over to the next generation, their son and his wife, who had not previously worked in the operation but had a good business background.

They spent three months working with his parents to become familiar with the business and then took over completely on their own.

Within weeks I received a call to meet them to discuss how they could improve the customer care systems for their business. At the first meeting they explained that the business was very inward focused, with the emphasis on operational efficiency, cost control and labour management. Historically these measures were necessary to grow and develop the business but they had now become a deep rooted culture in which the customer was almost a bit player.

The business had developed a good, loyal local customer base that fitted into the routine and treated the place almost as a club. However, this was one of the reasons why the business was stagnated, turnover was static and new customers were scarce and difficult to attract.

The new owners wanted to renew, energise and develop the business to attract a new generation of customers; in effect to create a culture change.

We agreed a six month plan to create a customer centric business with the focus firmly on the customer.

The plan covered the following points:

  • Confirmation of the “Why”
    • the key reasons why this was the right step at this time
  • Owner’s responsibility
    • The owners agreed to lead, drive and take full responsibility for the CFP – the Customer First Programme
  • The “Where and How” analysis
    • Deciding where:
      • The business was now
      • The business wanted to be
    • Deciding how:
      • How to get there
      • How to stay there
  • Creating the culture change
    • This involved meeting all the staff and outlying the direction that had been decided
    • We organised a number of staff forums to discuss the issues and get their input into the plan                                                          A surprisingly high number of staff were aware that the business had become less customer oriented but put this down to the direction of the owners. They were now open to change and welcomed the imitative
  • Customer Care training
    • Every staff member attended the Introduction to Customer Care Course. The covered the following areas;
      • Why is Customer Care important
      • How we can communicate effectively with customers
      • Dealing with the “3C’s”  – comments, compliments and complaints
      • How to create loyal customers
  • Customer surveys – Voice of the customer (VOC)
  • We established four survey formats
  • A five point comment card for the restaurant, with optional phone and e-mail contact information linked to a monthly prize
  • A beer mat comment card for the bar, again with contact information linked to a monthly prize
  • A quarterly eight point e mail survey
  • Text surveys using NPS
  • Staff involvement
    • The key to success was the involvement of the staff and a Customer First Staff Committee was established with five staff representatives. This committee met every month and produced a staff update sheet for all staff members.
    • One committee member was responsible for producing a report on all the customer comments and a monthly scoring system was developed.
    • The committee also made recommendations on changes or adjustments to the working procedures where it impacted on the customer experience.
    • The committee also established further training and coaching programmes for the staff.


The Customer First Programme was a success for three main reasons:

  • The determination and leadership of the owners
  • The involvement of the staff at all levels
  • Listening to, and responding effectively, the voice of the customer