Cork plans to become a city of excellent customer service
Cork City launches a Cork City Customer Service Charter to compete against the threat of online
Cork City Centre Forum, which is a collaboration between various business and public sector groups in the city, launched a Cork City Customer Service Charter today to coincide with Local Enterprise Week 2019. The Charter, which is the first of its kind in Europe, was developed to create a city of superior customer service and assist Cork’s journey to becoming one of the friendliest, most liveable and sustainable cities globally. The Cork City Customer Service Charter gives businesses a list of guidelines and training on service, customers and the city, focusing on areas that range from fundamentals like friendliness, skilfulness, accessibility and cleanliness to integrity, inclusivity, respect and excellence.
In 2018, 15 city centre businesses took part in a pilot training programme, which made use of a mystery shopper to monitor the progress and improvements each individual business made in enhancing their customer service. The course was delivered with the support of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Cork City. A second training programme will begin in late March and is open to all city businesses this year, costing just €60 per business. The programme includes a briefing for business owners/managers, a workshop for training the trainers, customer service progress monitoring, a mystery shop, feedback and a final briefing.
Commenting on the initiative, Joan Lucey from Cork City Centre Forum (and Vibes and Scribes), who is heading up this project, said, “The Cork City Customer Service Charter will help us stand out from other business centres, towns and cities. Cork has already been named as Europe’s friendliest city and we want to build on that accolade and become best in quality service also. We need to work together to get there. No matter how wonderful you feel your service offering is, we can all be better.” The Customer Service Charter initiative was launched in response to the ongoing global shift toward online retail purchasing. Ms Lucey continued: “Businesses in Cork are very aware that these are challenging times for retailers and businesses. While we accept that an online presence and preferably a multichannel one is the way to go, not all retailers are in a position to invest the time and money in online selling. “Forecasts for the coming year suggest a 30% swing to online purchasing and also customers looking for an interactive shopping experience. This is where we in the brick and mortar shops can compete and win. “Customers now want a real connection and a very high-quality service, so we all need to look regularly at our offering. We may feel we are doing our best but we now have to compete with our customers shopping in the comfort of their homes and retail experts all agree that customer service is the key to a successful bricks and mortar business.”
John Mc Carthy, general manager of Penneys has also been centrally involved in the initiative and said ‘We see this as another step in an ongoing journey. There is a great mix of organisations participating with large department stores and independents retailers, hospitality businesses and public service bodies. We believe this is the only such Charter in Europe and we believe it will be another asset as we continue to promote the unique offering in Cork City Centre.’
The Cork City Customer Service Charter was developed over the past two years in collaboration with Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), who conducted research with city centre businesses and developed the training programme. The training programme is delivered by James Burke and Associates, specialists in the food and retail sector. The programme assists business owners in finding new growth areas of opportunity, helps re-energise individual businesses, and helps mobilise the business community as a whole.
Cork City Centre Forum is a collaboration between Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, Cork City Council, An Garda Siochana, retail, hospitality and service sectors and other local business representative organisations. It is also an operational group of CORE, the City Centre partnership.