Anyone who’s shopped in a branch of Aldi will be familiar with its no-nonsense approach. Typically offering a smaller selection of products than its counterparts and focusing on own brands and twice-weekly ‘special buy’ lines, the discount German supermarket chain has taken the retail sector by storm in recent years, and is now the fifth largest in the UK, with more than 1,000 stores across the UK and Ireland.
But to make sure it held on to this place in the market, the company realised it needed to focus on providing customers with as positive an experience as possible. Using customer insight data, coupled with extensive research with staff across the business, Aldi identified the main causes of customer dissatisfaction, as well as areas where it performed below the benchmark in comparison to its rivals.
To address these issues, the company introduced the Best Version of Us programme, which focuses on setting clear objectives for colleagues around satisfying customer needs, engaging with employees so they feel motivated and improving processes.
Working with training provider Team Academy, training director Lisa Sowter-Murphy’s team worked to devise and deliver a customer service training programme that focused on behavioural interactions to educate and, most importantly, inspire all 30,000 store operations staff. “We wanted to create a programme that would engage and motivate all levels of our business to put the customer at the heart of everything we do – as well as aligning with our core values of simplicity, consistency and responsibility,” says Sowter-Murphy.
“Our teams approached the training with energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Not only was the programme a great opportunity to learn more about delivering amazing customer service, it was also a chance for teams to work together outside of their normal environment.”
Following the rollout of the training programme, Aldi saw a “dramatic” reduction in the number of customer complaints related to in-store service, Sowter-Murphy explains. This included a 28 per cent reduction in complaints about till queues, as well as a 14 per cent drop in those regarding staff friendliness, and a 10 per cent decrease around the speed and accuracy of scanning.
Sowter-Murphy notes that the feedback from employees about the training was “extremely positive”, revealing that they felt “more committed to customer satisfaction than ever before”.
The programme was so successful that it scooped the best HR/L&D supplier accolade at the CIPD People Management Awards 2020, with the judges “bowled over” by the project’s execution and impact.