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Past Event

The Service Excellence Network visits P&O Ferries.

On 23rd March 60 guests from the Service Excellence Network visited P&O Ferries in Dover.

The event provided the opportunity to hear how P&O Ferries has embedded an improvement culture based around customer service experience, paving the way for a major transformation programme.

Touring behind-the-scenes

The day was split between the P&O head office and a ferry crossing of the Channel, allowing us to see many customer service experience improvements first-hand.

Introductions from Managing Director Janette Bell, Operations and Business Transformation Director Sue Mackenzie, and Head of Operational Excellence Jon Bell started the day off. As well as learning about the organisation’s focus on customer service experience and the service profit chain, we heard about their ongoing business transformation.

We looked at the work undertaken by P&O and OEE Consulting in the model office at P&O’s headquarters. The office is de-risking business changes driven by their transformation, through trialling and quantifying potential effects.

We also heard how the business has been capturing and analysing verbatim feedback from customers.

By enabling open feedback and using text analysis, P&O have been able to focus on the issues most important to customers. In turn, this has positively impacted NPS.

When on board we toured the food court, galley, stores, retail and even toilets to discuss how feedback had driven customer service experience improvement projects in these areas. While they have teams who solely run improvement projects, they also encourage everyone to suggest improvements, giving them support in piloting and implementation. The enthusiasm from the people directly involved in these projects was infectious, and it was great to see how P&O had taken the training and coaching provided by OEE Consulting to drive cultural change as well as customer experience improvements.

Continuing the transport and travel theme, we heard from Tony Anderson, ex-Marketing Director of easyJet, on his experiences developing easyJet and other easyGroup ventures, and what it was like being a challenger brand in a busy and unforgiving sector. His talk covered key differentiators for success, such as consistent service delivery, playing to your strengths and recruiting people who are up for the challenge and growth that lies ahead.

Event insights

Simon Coulbeck, Account Director for P&O Ferries from OEE Consulting, rounds up key lessons from the day:

P&O Ferries have put customers at the heart of their strategy and improvement work.

They have been using customer feedback to effectively drive value into the business (rather than many organisations which collect reams of customer satisfaction data, often at high cost, and then don’t fully leverage the insights this gives).

The organisation gives customers space to provide feedback on the issues important to them. This means that they are getting a specific and measurable picture from the customer on what needs to be improved.

Their customer service experience improvement projects are prioritised according to the strength of customer dissatisfaction on the topic, and the impact this will have on NPS, rather than any internal priorities.

By addressing the full customer journey there is a noticeable benefit to the organisation. They have effectively realised the service-profit chain link, driving customer satisfaction and profitability with better employee engagement..

Their improvement thinking has been applied to small, medium and large projects on board, and also to strategic thinking about the company’s journey for the next 180 years of its life.

As they plan and make large investments in the company’s future, the model office has supported them in bringing multiple initiatives and stakeholders together. And, by setting aside space for the model office, they have made an open commitment to innovation in the organisation. P&O Ferries have an improvement plan on twenty things they’re going to improve this year, a regular process using the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle, and the baseline evidence and regular measurements to show they’ve made a difference.

The Service Excellence Network

The Network is a group of service-sector organisations who meet quarterly to network, learn from expert speakers and share best practice. Each is fully committed to improving operations and enhancing customer service experience.

Our next meeting will explore high performance environments, hosted by Loughborough University on 23 June.

For further information get in touch.

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