Changing the customer service culture at First Great Western

Part of a long term programme with First Great Western has seen t4c continue to deliver the customer service elements of their induction programme. New starters to the organisation complete a fully interactive welcome to the customer service responsibilities of working in a railway environment.

“First Great Western has a long association with t4c, who most recently revised our Putting Customers First induction day. What they have done has helped our new customer facing colleagues understand our key requirement to be consistently friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. t4c were a pleasure to deal with and were agile and professional. The product they developed and rolled out was well received and they were responsive to feedback from delegates and the training team to help enhance the product.”

Tracey Coleman, Head of Learning and Development

t4c worked initially with First Great Western on a cultural transformation initiative from May 2008. The primary objective was to transform the TOC into a customer centric business, with the customer at the heart of everything it does. The Putting Customers First training programme was the skills development part of the transformation, and has been supported by a comprehensive plan to sustain and embed changes to behaviours. A purpose built venue was designed and developed to immerse those staff attending in a total learning experience – putting them first to enable them to feel valued.

Some of the key achievements over the lifetime of the transformation included:

  • Over 111 customer service NVQs were achieved between September 09 and January 2010.
  • Between Spring 2008 and Spring 2010, the overall customer satisfaction results are up by 10%, with an increase of 13% in the attitude and helpfulness of staff on train, and 7% in the attitude and helpfulness of station staff.
  • Since 2007/08, customer complaints have been reduced by 33% overall, while customer praise has increased by 10%.
  • Overall employee engagement has increased by 3% between 08 and 09, with a 4% improvement in internal communications

In June 2010, Modern Railways magazine awarded the Putting Customers First programme their Innovations Award within the Passenger Experience category. The programme was also short listed for the National Rail Awards.
More recently, train4change has supported FGW with their management conferences during 2010, 2011 and 2014. This has involved working directly with all senior managers and line managers within the organisation. The conference format has been totally redeveloped into a creative and innovative approach which encourages maximum sharing of ideas and best practice, as well as enhancing the knowledge and skills required to deliver the key business aims.

Some of the feedback from managers about what they enjoyed included:

‘The feeling of togetherness, that we are all facing the same basic challenges in leading colleagues’

‘Group sessions excellent with some great ideas’

‘The different workshops keep things interesting and the pace was
very good’