Exploring how best to generate more revenue, deliver greater customer service and have a truly engaged workforce across their branch network
Working closely with a handful of client staff, in just 16 weeks we were able to challenge some well-established norms of operation, raise the profile of the branches in head office thinking and really explore how best to connect the business to its local community. In so doing, we helped to boost employee engagement and customer satisfaction as well as increasing revenue.
Across the UK, the business has a network of 370 owned and operated branches. We were called in to help set up and run a 16-week pilot with seven branches from this network. Our client asked us to get involved as we had been working with them for some time on a range of other projects and we also had the necessary core skills in business dynamics modelling and systems thinking.
The idea was for these pilot branches to explore new, more effective ways of working. There were three core aims to be balanced: generate income, increase employee engagement, and increase customer satisfaction.”
We quickly formed joint teams for the seven pilots - three people from the business for each branch supported by three Berkeley Partnership consultants. Our consultants worked very closely with their client colleagues to give them tools and techniques, drive the analysis and provide direction and ongoing support. At the end of each week the whole team came together to share progress, best practice and ideas. This was not only a highly effective way to run the project, but also enabled us to transfer project management and systems thinking skills to the client teams.
The teams built a clear as-is model of the branches to gain a real understanding of key issues such as what drives customer satisfaction. To this end, they gathered a good deal of on-site data, for example by carrying out surveys with customers in the branch. This formed the foundation for exploring what would make the difference and how best to change. Once we were clear about how things currently worked, we could be free thinking in how to improve things. Throughout, we kept the focus on exploring new ways of working that would help drive up income, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.
Together, the teams created around 15 initiatives to try. For each one, we developed a case saying what we thought would happen, why it was worth trying, the anticipated benefits and confirmation that we could do it in the 16- week timeframe. We also made sure we had measurement structures in place to track the impact of each initiative. This rigorous planning and justification enabled our sponsors and the broader steering committee, which included a wide range of different stakeholders, to stay aware and in control of the exploration throughout the pilot project, while giving our teams the freedom to find new and better ways of doing things.
We focused on three core areas of improvement.
First, we zeroed in on how the staff worked in the branches. For example, we encouraged branch managers to get closer to the operations and front desk, so that they were both more visible to staff and customers and more immediately involved. This simple change proved highly effective.
Second, we encouraged the branches to do more local marketing, for example going out and visiting local businesses – letting them know about new services that may be of interest. To support this initiative, we recommended allocating a specific budget for local marketing activities to the branches.
Third, we took a fresh look at performance targets, for example coming up with a mechanism that was much more in line with what sells to the local community. To support this increased emphasis on locally-driven activities and performance, we created a new branch manager report. It gave managers more detailed and timely information, for example, on what products they had sold week by week.
The results of the pilot were good. Compared to the control branches, in just 16 weeks, the pilot branches had a more engaged workforce, an 5% increase in customer satisfaction, and a 2% increase in income. Moreover, the business now has a branch operating blueprint to support its broader transformation programme.