Learning from the best... in Customer Service

Learning from the best... in Customer Service

Our network is run by entrepreneurial postmasters who are small business owners, and are working hard to take their business forward. Every year, we celebrate their success at the Retail Sales Awards. Read more about the Retail Sales Awards.

The 2018 awards ceremony is just a few months away. In the run up to the celebration, we revisit the secrets to success of last year’s winners, as featured in past issues of One magazine.

Last year, Bolton a directly managed branch, Liverpool ONE shopping centre, a WHSmith branch, and Plumstead High Street, mains branch scooped the Wow Award for Best Customer Service at the Post Office Retail Sales Awards.

Running a branch has its challenges, but on the shop floor customers come first, every time. Here’s some of the interviews with last year’s winning branches, as featured in previous issues of One magazine.

Going the extra mile
Alex Laird, assistant branch manager at Liverpool WHSmith said: “Being the best that we can has been ingrained within us and everyone who deals with customers does it in the same way. We try to treat them as individuals and do what needs to be done to get the best for them.

“If there’s ever a problem and it is an issue where training is required, then it is discussed straight away and we always ask how we can learn from that. Using this approach, we have reached the point where we are very good at handling every foreseeable situation.

“We handle a lot of Irish passport applications here and we had frequent problems as the photo requirements are different to British passports. We often had to reject applications because they didn’t meet the standard, so we liaised with a nearby camera shop and showed them how to produce pictures of the right quality.

“We also have an arrangement with two local solicitors to witness forms such as the Irish passport application for our customers, so their journeys aren’t wasted. In that way, we have managed to ensure most people are able to get it all done on the same day and it avoids confrontational situations.”

A smile on their face
For Angela Parr, counter clerk at Bolton, good customer service means seeing the same faces again. She said: “If you offer great service, customers come back. I always say my job’s done when people are walking back down the street with a smile on their face.”

In busy periods such as Christmas, Angela and her colleagues put extra focus into helping customers. “We share the products and policies we have with customers, to save them money. We have life and car insurance, but many people aren’t aware we offer these services, so I try and get the message across we are here to help.” She said Bolton’s directly-managed status means employees can offer customers anything they need, from postage to savings, to car insurance and mortgages.

Serving customers well
Plumstead High Street branch offers extended hours over busy periods like Christmas. “This means we will have extra capacity for Christmas, which is important to serving customers well,” said Laxmi Patel, postmaster at Plumstead branch.

If customers are struggling with parcel packing or addressing packages, Post Office or retail staff can help them. Elderly customers appreciate the contact with Plumstead staff and enjoy a chat, said Laxmi.

“I like talking to the customers, letting them know about our other products, and giving them information. If they have any questions they can always come back and I will answer them,” she said. This includes questions about financial services and car, home and life insurance.

Laxmi said the branch scooped the award because they all work so well as a team. “As a leader I expect everyone to contribute to the branch in the best way they can to make us successful,” she said.

“Our success is also down to the model we use in the branch, and the standards we set ourselves, with weekly sales meetings, sales charts, daily warm-ups and updates.

“I'm regularly coaching my team during quiet periods and helping them improve their product knowledge, so they grow in confidence when talking to customers.”


These stories originally featured in the July 2017 and November 2017 issues of One magazine. 

Missed last week's feature on Travel Money? Read it here