UK's leading online and home shopping retailer embarked upon a long term business improvement programme

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We worked with the UK's leading online and home shopping retailer in its call centres, warehouses, distribution centres, financial services, buying and merchandising, and headquarters across 16 locations.

Client needs

Following a merger of two competing organisations the group embarked upon a long-term business improvement programme, designed to transform the way the company treated its customers, supported extensively by an underlying approach to tackling process improvement and performance.

How we helped

We first conducted a company-wide diagnostic. This involved meeting the entire senior management team, visiting numerous distribution and returns centres during the day and at night, listening to customers at call centres, and understanding buying and merchandising processes. Based upon the output of this exercise the group decided to base its approach on the Lean Six Sigma methodology, focusing on the customer to generate cultural change.
Some of the findings of the diagnostic that informed the approach were:

• It became obvious that it was necessary to view the complete end-to-end processes of the business across all divisions to significantly improve the customer experience. 
• The effects of customers' issues were seen first in contact centres but the root causes originated in other parts of the business. 
• To generate cultural change it would be necessary to have management level awareness and buy-in, as well as awareness at grassroots level. 
• To seed practitioners throughout the organisation, the first group to be trained were at executive level. They became the champions of the next group - the managers and team leaders. In this way, the culture change and improvement methodology was spread through the organisation. 
• Voice of the customer research was carried out to understand the customer experience.

To build capability in improvement methodologies, a customised Six Sigma training course was implemented providing skills to Black Belt standard, with the training for each group of employees spread over 4 months and including 1 to 1 mentoring sessions by our consultants. The first group to undergo training were a specially selected group of managers across all divisions who would be the future internal champions of the programme. Rigorous standards were set for technical competency and delivery of projects during the training leading through to formal certification. 
Over 160 practitioners completed the Lean Six Sigma training in 11 waves spread over 2 years. Additionally, we led 2-day 'Foundation' training for all staff involved in project teams, and facilitated 15 Executive sessions which greatly increased the leadership's understanding of how to leverage the capability for results.

Benefits achieved

The company successfully integrated the two former catalogue-based competitors, and has changed and improved its processes to become a modern home shopping organisation with better brand awareness and a much higher proportion of on-line selling, making purchase, delivery and payment faster and simpler for its customers. The company's largest distribution centre won the prestigious North West Business Excellence Award.  
During our involvement, 114 training projects were completed, delivering a bottom line 28-fold return on investment, in areas including:

• Reduced % of home shopping catalogues returned as undelivered
• Reduced the number of customer parcels held for re-packing
• Increased click through to web site rate on email marketing campaigns
• Reduced catalogue selling price errors
• Reduced cycle time and volume of call centre complaints
• Reduced warehouse packaging rework
• Reduced catalogue selling price errors
• Reduced cycle time and volume of call centre complaints
• Reduced warehouse packaging rework
• Improved white goods installations
• Reduced delivery delays
• Improved parcel track and trace compliance

The company has now become self-sufficient and the internal process improvement experts are continuing to sustain project-by-project process improvement across all its distribution, call centre and other departments.
In 2010 the company won the UK Customer Experience Award for Retail.


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