Customer service is ready to evolve

Daniel Davies, CEO, CPL Training Group
Daniel Davies, CEO, CPL Training Group

Davies, one of the three co-founders of CPL Training Group – which last month acquired rival training firm ABV – said the traditional gap between customer service in the UK and US was narrowing.

“The last couple of years I’ve had a couple of trips to places like New York and Chicago,” Davies told SLTN.

“Historically, the US has always been well ahead of us, and actually I see the gap really narrowing now.

“And in some ways I think the UK actually surpasses the US – in terms of menu development and even in terms of customer service.

“But it’s not consistently delivered. You get pockets of really good training and really good operators, but it’s the operators that have put customer service as a cornerstone of their business and built around it.”

The focus in UK customer service is turning away from scripted sentiments, said Davies – what he described as the “have a nice day” style of customer service – and towards a more thorough, “attention to detail” approach.

“It’s segmented a bit more now,” he said.

“You’ve got to know your customer, you’ve got to be able to weigh up quite quickly when they walk through the door what type of customer they are, the demographic they’re from, what’s likely to interest them on the menu or where they’re likely to sit.

“You can tell a lot of this just by looking at them and making some base-level assumptions and backing it up with verbal interaction.”

And Scottish businesses, in particular, could be well placed to establish themselves as leaders in customer service.

Davies said the greater amount of mandated training in Scotland has encouraged operators to take staff training seriously.

“In some ways training gets taken more seriously [in Scotland],” said Davies. “But having said that most forward-thinking companies now really see the value of training and education of their staff.

“You live and die on your staff, and potentially 80% of your problems come on two legs.

“Having a good, motivated, well trained workforce makes it a lot easier to run the business.”

Davies argued that, following the takeover of ABV, CPL is in a better position than ever to help operators with their staff training.

The deal means the enlarged company now has eight dedicated trainers in Scotland, with training centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.

Furthermore, the acquisition means CPL will be able to deliver a wider range of “blended” training courses, combining the e-learning speciality of CPL with the face-to-face training courses delivered by ABV.

“It’s a good collaboration,” he said.

“We’ve already got a good e-learning social media course, they’ve got a good face to face course, so we’ll put the two of them together, improve them as individual offers but marry them up as well, for the full blended approach.”