Tesco
World-Class Customer Service: Delivering everyday brilliance through Applied Leadership Development

“There is no doubt that this has made a huge difference to us in how we now work together as a leadership team and how we engage with our staff with more openness and trust than we did before”

“We are really clear on what we need to do to face our challenges in the future and are starting to step up to the what leadership really means for us”

The challenge

Our client, a global giant in retailing with £71 billion of group sales and over 500,000 people, had spent the last decade seeing year-on-year growth and a dramatic geographical expansion from its traditional UK base. It is now a visible daily shopping experience for consumers around the world, both in store and online.

The challenges the business faced included: the fragmentation of its market and loss of market share caused by new low cost entrants and the diversification of its traditional competitors into convenience store formats; a drift away from attending to the levels of customer service in the stores; a declining reputation for being well-respected grocery retailer and business strategy case-study; early stage indications of declining morale in customer contact centres.

It was very clear to this organisation that in order to start to turn the business around they needed to develop leaders who could engage the workforce in an ambitious vision. They needed to create an environment in which people were more empowered and so able to serve responsively.

In order to enable this performance, the leaders also needed to inspire employees in a positive vision of the future with a reignited sense of excitement in the brand. In summary they needed to develop leaders to create a world-class customer service operation with a fantastic reputation in the market.

All of this meant developing leaders who:
• Have crystal clear clarity on their purpose and who are able to ignite a sense of ambition about world-class service to their teams
• Are agile and collaborate together to navigate though the complexity and ambiguity of the organisation and market conditions
• Develop a strength-based way of working, in order to release the potential through line management

The Solution

A world-class environment is not the result of looking externally for an answer, in the hopes of finding a cure for a deficit. Instead we helped them to work together to investigate and explore what “world class” looked like for themselves. This involved exploring their own interactions as a leadership team and looking for the exceptionally rare but significant existing examples of it in the organisation at large.

This created a leader-led process that enabled the leaders to spend more time than they typically had building trusted bonds and really working together as a team to cut through the complexity of their challenges.

A few example steps in the process were:
• Interviews with all the senior leaders team, itself an intervention to signal the importance of change
• Designing a series of workshops with the leadership team to get clear on strengths, challenges and how they needed to engage the rest of the organisation
• Training their team in a process to uncover how they unconsciously get in their own way
• Facilitated sessions in appreciative enquiry with staff to listen deeply for the seeds of world class service already within the organisation

The results

“There is no doubt that this has made a huge difference to us in how we now work together as a leadership team and how we engage with our staff with more openness and trust than we did before”

“We are really clear on what we need to do to face our challenges in the future and are starting to step up to the what leadership really means for us”

“The process of change is not easy. We were given some really simple tools and were facilitated in such a way that if even though it was hard sometimes, the path towards greater performance has become much clearer”

“I will never now underestimate the power of being visible as a leader with my extended teams. Our business is about people and how they feel about themselves and the place they work. I underestimated how just showing up and being available as a leader has such a positive impact on service.”