Ex John Lewis executive tells garden centre bosses how to improve customer service

Former John Lewis customer service head Andrew McMillan told Garden Centre Associate delegates how to deliver a defined and consistent customer service experience.

Andrew McMillan said his one criticism of garden dcebtre was they do not sell well enough:

"People want to be sold something but very often staff miss the opportunity. People come to garden centres for advice to help them make a decision and to then buy something."

Andrew McMillan's tips:

  • Define the personality of the business-eg local, heritage.
  • Communicate that information internally.
  • Lead by telling staff what is good and bad.
  • Reward, through appraisals.
  • Recruitment: Hire and fire for attitude. Assess by getting candidates to merchandise as a team and look for teamworking skills. Hire "nice" people, then train them in product knoweldge.
  • Define: Make a statement about your businesses customer service such as "welcomed, wanted, remembered, cared for."
  • Measure: through employee surveys which ask how people feel about work and through customer feedback asking about emotional attachment to a business-eg enjoyment of visiting. He said how people "perceive your business is more important than reality".
  • Make the working day culture and not task focussed.
  • Make an atmosphere where staff say they are working for the manager and not the business. The same atmosphere leads to customers saying they trust thre store and feel at home there. Random acts of kindness by staff encourage this.

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