John Lewis Partnership: Driving Customer Loyalty with a Best-Loved Brand
In our latest Sitel Group® EmpowerCX NOW Spotlight Series webinar, we were joined by best-loved brand John Lewis Partnership to explore how the U.K.-born company drives customer loyalty with a unique customer-centric approach powered by their people.
Graeme Matheson, Planning & Performance Lead at John Lewis Partnership, joined us to discuss how the John Lewis Partnership grew into the globally recognized brand it is today, what drives its customer centricity and how their people have enabled them to become a best-loved brand in the U.K. and beyond.
“John Lewis Partnership is a special brand,” said Matheson. “Our customers expect us to be there and be dependable. They expect us to care about delivering a solution. Our No. 1 priority is always, ‘how do we deliver great experiences for our customers?’”
Matheson has worked within John Lewis Partnership for five years, managing both in-house and outsourced contact center partners. He is a passionate believer in the importance of delivering best-in-class customer experience regardless of channel or geography. He has spent his career creating and enabling omnichannel customer care strategies to provide great customer service, every time.
In the webinar, we asked the 27-year contact center services veteran five key questions. Matheson shared several examples and stories along the way covering everything from washing machine sizes to 10-year-old coffee mugs.
1. Tell us about the John Lewis Partnership brand history and story. How did you become the iconic family of brands you are today?
While the company dates back to 1864, we didn’t become the empowered, collaborative retailer that we are today until Steven Lewis took ownership around 1914. He recognized that operating in a standard shareholder-owned model was a good way to operate, but it wasn’t necessarily great for the customer or for the people who worked for the business. So, he decided to change the way of working. He gave more power to employees (partners) and the company became a workers cooperative – we are all co-owners of the business. This becomes very clear when you engage with the business; we care passionately because we have a vested interest in the business.
It’s not about making a sale once. It’s about establishing a long-term, meaningful relationship so you’ll become a repeat customer. And, while some of our customers shop with us every day, we have many customers who shop with us for special occasions and these purchases are very emotive, e.g., nursery for a new arrival, dining table. It’s important that whomever you interact with during that interaction care and are able to answer all the questions the customer has.
This year, we’ve obviously done more online business than we expected. And it’s important that our digital experiences we’re delivering to customers – whether via self-serve, chat or phone – are handled by individuals that care and can make an emotional connection with our customers.
2. What are your company values?
We have to be a force for good within the markets we operate in. How we choose to spend the money that we make, it changes customers’ lives. We encourage our people to be themselves at work. We actively recruit people from a broad range of different groups, different cultures and different ethnicities.
We’re not just here to take customers’ money. We’re here to make sure that everyone within our business feels rewarded, feels engaged and has an opinion and an opportunity to voice that opinion. We’re driving our company values to be a force for good.
3. What makes the John Lewis Partnership a customer-centric brand – and why are you so focused on your customers?
The short answer is that happy customers spend more money; happy customers are easier to interact with. So, the smoother we can make the journey for the customer, the more likely that customer is to come back to us. We know that the more complicated the customer journey becomes, the more chances there are for something to go wrong. However, our customers know that when something does go wrong, we will fix it – quickly and seamlessly.
Further, if you only focus on the bottom line, you miss opportunities for innovation.
4. As you know, John Lewis [Partnership] was a brand mentioned by consumers when asked which brand they feel most loyal to in our most recent piece of proprietary research. What steps have you taken to drive customer loyalty and how does your CX strategy complement this?
To achieve this, I go back to enabling and empowering our partners to find solutions for customers. We enable our partners (employees) to help our customers to make the right purchasing decisions. We believe that this is our job – not just to sell things.
Our job is to wow customers; it’s to deliver great experiences to customers regardless of what channel they choose to come to us within. And, we need to be clever in terms of what channels we offer to customers. We are always careful to not give customers an opportunity to engage with us through a channel that we know isn’t going to deliver a good experience. Our CX strategy is absolutely to drive customer loyalty via a simple, speedy resolution and a lean business.
We give our customers a suite of options when interacting with us and we will service our customers to the best of our ability through whichever channel they prefer. This why people are loyal to us. They know we will support them through the dialogue, through their purchasing decision and after their purchase is complete.
5. Why was it important for John Lewis Partnership to choose a customer-centric partner, and how has that enabled your strategy?
We recognize that if we want great experiences for our customers, we must partner with a business that yes, has cost-effective solutions, but at the heart of the business is the desire to deliver great customer experiences. Whether those customers are our partners or our retail partners, we have to have that strategic alignment to deliver great experiences.
To learn more about the John Lewis Partnership and its more than 15-year relationship with Sitel Group – including a Q&A session – watch the webinar.