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Case Study One

Cultural Change across an entire Business School

What was their need?

While recent surveys had shown that customer satisfaction was generally high in all areas across the college there were certain ‘hotspots’ that needed addressing. These ‘hotspots’ were in high customer contact situations, either face-to-face, such as main reception, restaurant and bar areas and room/ground service personnel. In other parts of the business it was via the telephone, with students, suppliers and external lecturers.

To improve this critical side of the business operation it was necessary to change the mindset of all customer facing people from being cynical to that of positive, proactive and team focused. There was a lack of understanding and insight into the realm of ‘internal customers’, which meant poor or no communication between departments and what did happen wasn’t consistent enough. Language was also a barrier as many of the staff did not have English as their first language.

The Progress Solution

As they had tried various types of customer service training before without much success they wanted something different. Following careful and thorough work in partnership with the management team a series of pilot workshops were designed and successfully carried out. Then, over a period of three years the whole organisation were trained and coached in the key skills and techniques around internal and external customers, managing change and personal coping strategies.

At the heart of the programme was grass roots feedback in order to reverse cynicism and generate genuine motivation for doing things different. All delegates came armed with answers via a simple yet highly focused set of questions, that allowed them to share their thoughts and feelings about the current ‘way things get done’ and how they would like to see it improved. This formed the foundation of the programme. We then encouraged and facilitated the management team to begin introducing the suggested changes that came out of this feedback – “success in small steps” – where people began to see that these workshops were definitely different from previous programmes as evidence showed that ‘management’ were listening. Our research consistently shows that if you change the belief then you change the behaviour.

Due to operational constraints the programme was designed as a series of connecting workshops that carried a highly interactive theme. This was supported with coaching and regular facilitation to provide the focus and support to make the transition to manage customer expectations that created a new cultural climate of ‘delivering excellence’.

What was the Outcome?

After some initial resistance to the change the ‘small steps to success’ began to work their magic. Cynicism was first replaced with scepticism and then a realisation that change doesn’t have to be fearful. As confidence grew, people began to feel the benefit of seeing other departments as customers. With the right skills, increased confidence and guidance people also began to communicate more openly and constructively. Customers were seen as the lifeblood of the organisation that they are. With people’s beliefs changed their attitude changed into one of commitment and resolve. The cultural change was completed with outstanding service for all internal and external customers, greater motivation, team spirit and commitment along with lower absenteeism and labour turnover.

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