If you visit London’s Bond Street, you naturally expect the best quality products and exceptional service. So when top of the line retailer Asprey planned its flagship store in Bond Street they wanted to make a new kind of impact with customers.
Asprey is no longer just gold, silver and diamonds. Now it includes books, jewellery, clothing, dinner services, and crystal. All of these add up to a lifestyle store where staff need to be adept at relating to new and often different kinds of customers.
To revitalize the staff, Asprey presented Maynard Leigh Associates with the challenge of developing an exceptionally wide range of people. Some had been in the business for nearly 40 years while others had arrived more recently, including someone who had joined on opening day. It meant challenging the behaviours of people who now needed to look at things differently. It also meant integrating the new team members with the already excellent tried and tested ones.
With Asprey quadrupling in floor space, the company’s Retail Director Lord Bruce Dundas wanted to create the right kind of ambience with a high standard of customer greeting. In summary, he needed a more creative customer interaction.
Maynard Leigh has previous experience of improving customer care: for example, winning the National Training award for their work with a major UK supermarket chain. However Asprey's development needs fully tested the limits of creativity. A bespoke training course was created: Dramatic Service, a two-day programme run twice to cover everyone involved. It addressed directly the issue of providing a consistently high standard of personal service, and was loosely based on Dramatic Shift.
Dramatic Service involved role-play, dressing up, and an exploration of how to move from the current situation to the future one. People played together for two days, using props and costumes. They had specific tasks and were encouraged to feed back to each other how they came across, and how to relate this back to the business and apply it at work.
One learning task got people exploring their inner personalities and how these might help or hinder them from delivering outstanding customer service. This brought out their best and worst qualities that might enhance or reduce the quality of customer experience.
“They crystallized for themselves how these inner characters affected customer service well or badly,” explains Nigel Hughes, the Maynard Leigh Associates consultant who led the Asprey programme. “It was as if, with a brilliant flip of the coin, they found their Doctor Jekyll, and their Mr. Hyde. One attendee, for instance, began calling herself the Princess, because she had the sort of grace, ease and confidence that describes a princess. She even dressed herself up as one during the learning programme. But on the other side she identified the wimp, the vagabond inside herself, the bag lady. We saw the graceful person, and we also saw the babbling idiot. By the end of the two days she integrated the best characteristics of both, in order to get the best of both. Both were valuable and could help her directly with a customer.”
Lord Dundas threw himself fully into the programme twice and an important personal outcome for him was being able to observe the contrast between the two groups of people operating under the same conditions with the same exercises. He saw what a different result you could get from a different set of people doing the same thing.
As a result of the Asprey programme people are now doing things differently, working together at a new level, all departments working cohesively as one – with their focus and attention on giving the best customer service they possibly can.