Andrew McMillan

Award Winning Customer Service Speaker

Certain brands provide you with certain expectations and John Lewis have always had a market leading culture and attitude towards its level of customer service. A culture which Andrew fostered and developed during his leading role as Customer Service Manager for the Department Store Division, and for which the store won awards from Which? Verdict and Retail Week.

Recognised as an expert in this field and using his extensive experience, Andrew tailors his speeches to provide delegates with an understanding of the different approaches and strategies for great customer service and practical solutions to bring these to the retail front-line. He also emphasises the importance of employee engagement, communication and bringing fun and positivity into the workplace.

Andrew’s career began as a management trainee with the John Lewis Partnership at Brent Cross. Quickly moving up through the management ranks, he led a number of selling teams in different branches culminating in managing a 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 acted 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 saw him develop JLP’s 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 become 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. He was also responsible for the management and resolution of the group’s escalated customer complaints.

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.

After leaving John Lewis Andrew joined a City based consultancy firm as Principal Consultant. There he specialised in employee engagement, customer experience, and customer centric business change. He led projects for Plymouth City Council where he helped them re design the access to, and provision of, Adult Social Care services – a project which subsequently won a national award. He supported a number of NHS foundation trusts to successfully develop and implement their patient experience strategies. He also worked with a number of high profile private sector clients including Virgin Atlantic.

Andrew also joined the Customer Experience Committee at the British Council of Shopping Centres during his time at John Lewis and he was asked the Chair the committee in 2010. This role maintains Andrew’s strong links with the retail community, where he has a particular interest in promoting the viability of the UK’s shopping centres and High Streets as valuable social spaces in addition to the commercial benefits they bring. The BCSC run an annual awards programme for excellence in customer experience in shopping centres (ACE Awards) which recognise the achievements of shopping centres and individual employees. During Andrew’s chairmanship the committee have developed and grown the awards substantially.

Andrew has spoken at conferences worldwide and across all business sector as well as local government, health and not-for-profit and continues to offer business change consulting, leadership development, chairing and facilitation training and coaching.

Speaking Topics

Andrew is happy to tailor material to the requirements of your meeting or conference. The list below illustrates some of the most frequently requested speaking topics and consulting assignments as a guide:

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, services or processes when they think about customer experience and the interaction with staff is left to chance. Just as many of the numerous awards John Lewis win cite the quality of the experience delivered through their staff as they recognise the quality of their products and services. It’s a potential major point of differentiation in a crowded marketplace and one that many organisations fail to capitalise upon.

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.

Organisational development to enhance customer service

Many organisations seem to focus on process to the point that frontline staff are always busy with tasks that take their efforts away from giving a memorable 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. Culture and behaviour within an organisation can’t be trained, but they can be shaped though an overt consciousness of what the organisation aims to achieve.

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.

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 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.

Engaging 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?

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