October 1999

No 193

Customer Service will be top of the bill on 9 November 1999 at the University of Leicester-based East Midlands Quality Club's (EMQC) Tenth Anniversary Conference.

The EMQC, which is part of the University's Management Centre, believes that Customer Service is one of the key requirements of a successful organisation in the 21st Century and the conference will feature speakers from leading East Midlands and national organisations.

Customer Service is the fastest growing industry in the UK. The growth of call centres and the importance of customer service across all types of business from retail to financial services through to professional and public services, has created a business focus on the importance of delivering good customer service.

Despite this era of the "Customer is King", many organisations still fail to understand or deliver customer service. Research shows that when a customer has service problems he will tell nine or ten people about it compared to only the five he will tell if he has a good service experience. It is also five to twenty times more costly to gain a new customer than to retain the existing one. Other research also indicates that eliminating all customer service problems could double profit growth for a company over a five year period.

The conference, to be held at Pride Park in Derby, will be attended by over 100 representatives from organisations across the East Midlands.

For further information contact Linda Mee, Business Manager, East Midlands Quality Club, University of Leicester (Tel: 0116 252 5330, Fax: 0116 223 1313, Email ljm18@le.ac.uk)

Notes for editors:

  • The Service Industry accounts for two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product.
  • There is extensive research available on the advantages of delivering customer service.
  • The East Midlands Quality Club, based in the Management Centre at the University of Leicester, is a not for profit organisation that promotes Quality and Business Excellence in the East Midlands.

    Larry Hochman - Key note speaker: Customer Service at the speed of life

    "The only true competitive advantage a business can have today is to understand what the future will look like sooner and more clearly than the competition and to get there first."

    Jayne Mayled - Director of Customer Service, Boots The Chemists: Delivering service excellence in a rapidly changing retail environment

    Customers needs and expectations are changing daily, the media through which they experience the Boots brand is ever growing and fragmenting. Demonstrating the value of real customer focus in changing times is a challenge for today's retailers. The presentation will give a brief history of service management within Boots The Chemists and start to answer the question - where do we go from here?

    Derek Mapp - Chairman of East Midlands Development Agency: Customer Service - a vital element in an enterprise culture

    Derek Mapp will explain how the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) can facilitate a greater awareness of the need to be more customer focused bearing in mind the declared aims of the Regional Development Agencies (RDA's) to regenerate the regions through: job creation; skills improvement; increased competitiveness and attacking social exclusion. Derek will also draw on his own experiences in developing the "Tom Cobleigh" pub chain and his current business interest Leapfrog, one of the UK's fastest-growing chains of children's' nurseries.

    John Seddon - Managing Director, Vanguard Education: From 'sweat shops' to world class: transforming call centre operations

    Call centres have earned the sobriquet 'sweat shops'. Why? because they are designed and managed as mass production 'factories'. There is a better way. Call centres should be designed and managed as systems. When they are, costs fall and service improves. Hard to believe? John Seddon will illustrate the problems and their solutions . . . by improving your call centre depends first on your preparedness to change the way you think.

    Mark Jeffery - Head of Marketing and Sales Development, NatWest: Creating change through service measurement

    The presentation will describe how service management has been developed within NatWest including the development of the service management strategy and differentiating the use and purpose of different measures. The overall development of measurement is fundamentally pinned to core principle of the need to know the exact purpose of the measurement, in other words know what you are going to do with it once you've got the data.

    Ian Adcock - Organisational Excellence Manager for Yellow Pages: Customer Satisfaction is not a separate issue - the Yellow Pages experience

    Ian Adcock has been with Yellow Pages since 1977 where he was in operations until the mid '80s when they began their quality journey focusing initially on product quality. This evolved into a TQM programme which in turn led to their use of the EFQM model in 1993 as a business improvement tool. Yellow Pages have just won the 1999 European Quality Award after only their second attempt at entering. Ian will share some of the learning from the Yellow Pages approach to self assessment and its impact on Customer Satisfaction and the Business as a whole.

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