Customers R US

Creating a Customer Centric Company

Background to the assignment

Our client is a market leader in their service-based industry, with 110 physical sites and 6,500 people employed. The business is profitable, with a customer base of 14 million and three principle competitors.
Their strategy had been to offer their customers best value for money in a very competitive marketplace and to focus on operational excellence. Whilst this formula had driven success for several years, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the future required a different approach.
The client was beginning to recognise that the experience they were giving their customers was not as good as that provided by some of their competitors and was not taking full advantage of the advances in technology that were transforming the customer experience in other markets. Their IT systems were not up to standard and they didn’t have the technology or skills required to communicate effectively with customers in an internet and mobile enabled world.

Our approach

Our initial brief from the client was to review their strategy and proposed initiatives and to develop and help them manage a change programme encompassing their various strategic initiatives.
When we had conducted our initial review, it became apparent that a more fundamental change was required. It was clear that, in spite of their success to date, they had failed to focus on the customer and had a poor understanding of customer needs and attitudes.
They had also placed little priority on the development of a strong brand, which meant that they were increasingly at a competitive disadvantage. One symptom of this was lower pricing and inferior margins. Another was unprompted brand awareness significantly lower than that of their competitors.
We concluded that their strategic plans needed to be placed in the context of an overall change programme focused on the customer. We worked with them to produce a programme of work that would not only address their need for new technology, but would also begin to build a customer and brand focused culture throughout the organisation. This was the genesis of the “Customers-r-us” programme.
Underpinning the programme was the strategic premise that they should move from competing purely on value and operational excellence to a proposition based on a better customer experience and a more desirable brand.
The programme on which we embarked looked like this:


The programme’s central goals were related to development of the brand and the customer experience. In addition to hard financial targets that would improve EBITDA multiple, the programme was designed to achieve improvements in customer frequency, spend and loyalty.
The programme itself had a twin focus – the On-line and Physical customer experience – underpinned by engagement and alignment of staff and driven by customer insights.
In recognition of the breadth of the changes required, we formed Change Teams for each component of the programme. These teams consisted of people at different levels of the business, jointly facilitated by Jamesford and client team leaders. This approach ensured that the client owned each aspect of the change, whilst allowing for Jamesford to introduce best practice and keep progress on track.
The teams were integrated in a strategic oversight group and progress was regularly reported to the client Executive Team.

What we did

The programme comprised of the following principal activities:-

  • Customer research
    • Qualitative and quantitative research to ensure full understanding of customers’ current views and their desires for the future. Also the establishment of brand tracking benchmarks to enable measurement of brand strength over time.
  • Staff research
    • A comprehensive cultural survey to understand current values/behaviors and how these would need to change to meet customer needs. Development and embedding of future organizational values.
  • Brand strategy
    • Review and development of an effective brand proposition to compete effectively in the future and align with the business objectives.
  • Systems strategy
    • Strategy development, systems selection and project managing the implementation – the company had legacy systems which needed to be replaced in order to deliver an efficient service and facilitate the on-line marketing strategy
  • E-commerce/e-marketing strategy
    • Planning and project managing the implementation – the e-commerce platform required re-development to enable the capture of customer data for targeted marketing. Development of an e-marketing strategy targeted at four key customer groups.
  • Customer service proposition
    • Development, testing and piloting a new customer service proposition to meet emerging customer needs.
  • Physical site design
    • Development of a physical site design brief to meet customer needs, improve the customer experience and align with the new brand
  • Identity and Communications
    • Evolution of the brand identity and internal/external communications to deliver the new brand proposition.
  • Staff alignment/engagement
    • A programme of staff engagement to ensure understanding of the change and their individual roles in making it happen.

The results

The “Customer-r-us” programme represents only the beginning of a much longer journey for the business. Transforming the customer experience and building brand equity are not changes that happen overnight in any organisation. Nonetheless, there have already been significant benefits from the work to date.
The foundations of change have been firmly embedded in the business. Customers and Brand have been placed at the forefront of the strategic intent and operational delivery. The organisational values are now regarded as a key component/enabler in the delivery of the brand promise. The new IT systems have been delivered to time and budget and are already producing the improvements promised.
Early indicators of tangible benefits emerging are:

  • 40% increase in customer satisfaction
  • 1000% increase in on-line booking
  • 48% increase in staff satisfaction
  • 300% increase in stakeholder value

The story continues…