Co-Op Food: Empowered to connect with customers

Co-op Food

#1 Local Food Retailer in the UK – this is the goal of The Co-operative Food and increased customer satisfaction is going to help them get there.

The Co-operative Food operates over 2,800 stores and employs more than 74,000 people. Already the fifth biggest food retailer in the UK, Co-op Food has the goal of becoming the number one local food retailer.

Recognising that this ambition needed to be matched with consistently high levels of customer service, The Co-operative Food developed its ‘Connecting with Customers’ campaign.

“We wanted to help our team improve how they handled calls to the customer care line, as well as supporting those working in stores,” explains Jean Crisp, Call Centre Manager at Co-op Food. “We contacted the CCMA as its training programmes are highly regarded in the contact centre industry. If we were going to learn, we wanted it to be from the very best.”

Customised training

The brief was to develop a highly interactive, hands-on workshop for front line staff and team managers which improved their call handling skills, focused them on connecting better with internal and external customers and supported a cultural shift in the call centre, empowering advisors to have better quality conversations.

Training was followed up with personal coaching, feedback and group sessions with the team managers. The focus here was on how they could apply what they had learned and make it ‘part of the day job’, equipping team managers with a common language and structure to coach their teams.

The teams went through a cultural change that touched every part of their role. Our advisors moved from ‘handling transactions’ to having warm, friendly conversations that reinforced the community type relationship we have with our customers.

Positive results

The results of the training were improved levels of customer satisfaction and increased confidence amongst advisors leading to a reduced number of call escalations. This contributed to a better customer experience and minimised the number of compensation vouchers being issued.

“The CCMA took the time to understand our operational challenges and shared ‘real-world’ knowledge, experience and credibility,” said Jean.

“Previously if a Co-op Food customer complained about anything at all, the advisor used to just send them a voucher. Now they take time to listen to the problem and reassure the customer. Not only are the customers happier, but we are spending significantly less money on vouchers.”

“It is testament to the quality of their training that I still hear people across the centre talking about what we learned and sharing feedback with each other. We set out to change the culture and connect with customers and, thanks to the CCMA that is exactly what we have done.”

What was achieved?

50 advisors, 5 team managers and 1 call centre manager in the Co-op Food Customer Care Line and Store Support Call Centre were involved in the training and delivered:

  • Much improved call structure
  • Ownership of customer issues by the advisors
  • More confident call handling
  • Positivity and coaching skills for Team Managers

They said…

“Engaged interest as soon as I walked through the door. Very interactive session.”

“Very interesting and mind opening, making you think outside the box.”

“Opened my eyes as to how much easier I could make things for customers. The trainer was really positive and held my attention.”

“I enjoyed the atmosphere and the trainer’s technique of delivering the training; she ensured we were picking up the skills.”