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Case Studies - Into The Blue Consulting

Case Studies

Customer Experience Case Studies

Please see our case studies below which demonstrate how we have helped businesses improve their Customer Experience…


Baileys Travel is a successful chain of travel agents which has been trading for nearly thirty years. However, the marketplace has become increasingly competitive and Chris Bailey, founder and owner, recognised that change was required if the business was to remain successful and continue to grow and prosper.

The Challenges

From a Customer Experience perspective, he identified the following opportunities:

  • The team had become set in their ways
  • The experience his customers were receiving was very transactional
  • The staff were not taking the time to ask questions, to get to know their customers and to really build the relationship
  • The business was not doing anything differently to any other travel business, indeed many others were offering a higher level of Customer Experience

Into The Blue were engaged to help Baileys Travel move the culture on and to achieve the following:

  • Help the team understand the importance of delivering a great Customer Experience
  • Provide them with the tools, techniques and knowledge to enable them do this
  • Coach and support them to take the theory and learnings and develop this into actions and deliverables
  • Ultimately, increase sales and profitability as a result

Firstly, we undertook a phase of Discovery: Mystery Visits to the stores, Mystery Calls and time spent talking to the staff and customers. This gave us a very clear picture of exactly where the business was at that time.

We know from our experience, that if we are to develop an organisation and its culture, we need to engage every single member of the team. We achieved this through our Hearts and Minds Workshop. An interactive, informative and relaxed one day Workshop, aimed at helping the team to:

  • Understand what Customer Experience is
  • How it differs from Customer Service
  • Why it is important
  • How it will benefit the business
  • How it will impact on them and the role they play in delivering a great Customer Experience

The session is a mixture of power point slides, videos, group work, debates and practical exercises which take the delegates out of the classroom and onto the high street to witness the reality of how some organisations deliver Customer Experience

For any organisation to be successful, they must have a clearly communicated and understood Vision. We worked with Chris and the team to help them create a Vision for Baileys Travel. This Vision would very much provide the strategic and operational direction of the business going forward, and provide real focus for the Customer Experience strategy.

With the Hearts & Minds sessions completed (for every single members of Baileys Travel) and the Vision in place, all staff were on the same page, understood what we were trying to achieve and why. We were then able to move on to the ‘how’.

The next stage of the process was to undertake a Journey Mapping exercise. This is very much about seeing the business as the customers sees it. Looking at every single touch point, every single interaction, every single part of the process a customer undergoes when doing business with Baileys. This drove many, many ‘light bulb’ moments and highlighted a number of opportunities to improve the Customer Experience.

One other key element we included in this program was that of Recovery. In terms of driving customer loyalty, putting things right when they go wrong, is incredibly important. We helped the team to understand the business impact of this, and also how to recover situations, ensuring the customer is left feeling great and remaining loyal to Baileys.

By combining the findings of the Discovery phase, with the learnings of the Hearts & Minds session and the Journey Mapping and working with Chris and his team, we were able to pull together a plan for the business. This was broken down into various pieces of work, with different members of the team becoming involved and taking ownership.

We were then able to help the team prioritise and also provide guidance and coaching to help move the work on and to give the staff confidence in what they were doing and how they were doing it.


  • Mind set across the entire team has changed considerably
  • The business is far more customer focused
  • The team understand the importance of Customer Experience
  • The team know how to deliver a great Customer Experience and also have the tools and techniques they need to support them

In the 6 months following the programme, the owners have reported a double digit increase in sales (ahead of trend) and a ‘significant’ increase in profit levels.


Into The Blue Consulting were asked to provide a Customer Experience Programme for a Shopping Centre which wanted to enhance the overall experience for its visitors. The Centre Director was conscious that it is no longer just about the retailing, but the entire end-to-end experience whilst in the Shopping Centre. He also wanted to create a more customer centric culture within his team, with customers being at the heart of all decisions made.

The Challenges

  1. Increasing competition from local Shopping Centres
  2. Declining footfall during certain times of the week
  3. The growing strength of on-line retailing
  4. A higher standard of Customer Experience in other sectors, which customers now benchmark against

As more and more Shopping Centres open, competition is becoming stronger. consumers have more choice than ever before, are now far better informed, far more discerning and also willing to travel distances to visit their favourite Centre.

On-line retailing posses an increasing threat and consumers need to be given reasons to visit Shopping Centres and spend time there.

Organisations generally are far more aware of the commercial need to create loyalty, bring their customers back time and time again and generate lifetime value. To this end, the level of Customer Experience is being enhanced in many sectors. Shopping Centres need to keep pace, or indeed be ahead, as comparisons will be made with the best elsewhere.

The Solution

We started by engaging the Centre team. Helping them to understand what Customer Experience is, why it is important & how it differs from customer service. We made them feel valued, listened to and a key part of the program. Key was every single member of the team to understand the role they could play individually in helping the Shopping Centre to deliver a great Customer Experience.

From here we worked with the Centre Director and his team to draw up a Vision: what the Centre stands for, why it exists and what it wants to deliver for its customers. This was particularly powerful in bringing the team together and aligning everyone as we moved through the program.

Following this, we conducted a survey of 22,000 of the Centre’s customers, to objectively establish what they liked, what they didn’t and what changes would make them visit more frequently and stay longer.

Through the Customer Survey, as well as gaining invaluable feedback, we were also able to establish a Net Promoter Score for the Centre. This gave us the starting point and an objective measure for improvement as the program developed.

A Journey Mapping exercise with the Centre team helped them ‘peel away the layers of the onion’ and see their Centre through the eyes of their customers. Here particularly there were many light bulb moments, with members of the team seeing things they had never seen before – making them far more aware of their impact on customers and also how customers see the Centre.


  1. The Centre Director and his team have complete clarity on what customers think & feel about the Shopping Centre. They have objective information from which decisions can be made and actions taken to improve loyalty. This will increase visit frequency, dwell time, and spend, which will drive sales and profitability.
  2. The Centre team understand and are engaged in the concept of Customer Experience. They understand the difference between this and customer service and now look at their roles and the Centre itself in a completely new way. Mind set has been changed and a Customer Centric culture created. They have also been coached in the tools and techniques required, thus ensuring sustainability.
  3. A Vision is now in place, which has been cascaded and engaged with by the entire team. This now drives the strategic direction and daily operation of the Centre.
  4. Through Journey Mapping, the team have a much better understanding of the Shopping Centre, the impact their actions have on customers and the role they each play in positively impacting the Customer Experience.
  5. Through a complete review of Social Media activity, customers are now being better engaged with, which again will drive loyalty and recommendations.

The next phase of the programme, putting in place the required changes identified from the Customer Surveys and the Journey Mapping, commenced in January 2015. The team prioritised based on the feedback, and then implemented changes. They continue to gather feedback on an on-going basis to assess progress in particular where the Net Promoter Score has moved to. This will be an on-going process until the target Net Promoter Score has been achieved.


The Aurum Group is the UK’s leading specialist jeweller and retail of fine Swiss watches. They are the largest retailer of Rolex in the World and also stock such brands as Patek Philippe, Chanel, Cartier, Tag Heuer and Omega. They have sales of C£400m across 180 Stores in the UK.

The Challenges

The Group made the decision to establish Customer Experience as a key part of the overall strategy based on the challenges they were facing at the time:

·       An increasingly competitive sector in which they could not offer their customers any clear differentiation from their competitors

·       An element of complacency in the business, which was predominantly product led

·       Discounting starting to erode profit

The starting point was the creation of a Vision & Values, which were cascaded to 1900 employees across 180 stores and Head Office.

The internal Customer Experience was made a major priority, so as to create the required platform from which to deliver the external Customer Experience. Relationships between Store to Store, Head Office to Store and Head Office functions internally were all develop and strengthened.

Other key elements of the Customer Experience Strategy were:

  • Communication – to help create and maintain momentum by keeping all areas of the business fully aware of progress, passing on successes and introducing fun at every opportunity
  • Reward & Recognition – to encourage and reward the desired language and behaviours
  • Recruitment & training – to ensure we bought the right people, with the rights skills and attitude into the business
  • Leadership – leading by example, bringing the Values to life and living them on a daily basis and ensuring that Customers were at the heart of every decision
  • Voice of the Customer – an extensive program to understand what our Customers thought and how they felt about the business
  • Journey Mapping – involving staff at all levels in an exercise which enabled us to see the business from the Customer’s perspective and identify numerous opportunities to develop the end to end Customer Experience
  • Recovery – understanding the opportunity complaints present to create loyalty


Double-digit sales increases were achieved in the following three years, at a time when the market was trading either flat or down on the previous year.

Profit results were as follows:

Year                           EBITDA

2007                          £4m               (Prior to the Customer Experience Strategy)

2008                          £8m

2009                          £15m

2010                          £23m

On the back of this outstanding performance, the business was sold to Apollo international in a signature transaction in March 2013.


‘Steve is a highly motivated individual who has a passion and belief in Customer Experience. Steve’s leadership and knowledge will change your teams’ behaviours and have a positive impact on your business. Under his guidance, the Customer Experience journey is now part of the culture within the Aurum Group

Tony Broderick – Chief Operating Officer, Aurum Group

Interview with Chris Daffy from the Academy of Service Excellence

In this interview Chris talks to Steve about the background to his success with Customer Experience at Watches of Switzerland. Chris asks Steve why the business decided to focus on Customer Experience and what was the outcome.

Retail Sales Training for Harveys

The retail furniture sector is a highly competitive environment. In July 2017 it became evident to Harveys that they were not performing to the level they required and as a result, wanted to review how their sales teams were selling in stores.  Into the Blue were engaged to deliver the following three elements:

i)               A review of the current sales techniques

ii)             Deliver one-to-one coaching with a view to developing more effective sales techniques

iii)           Increase sales in the selected stores and deliver the required ROI

A group of six stores were selected in the South East of England for this bespoke sales training and coaching programme.

Stage 1:

To kickstart the sales coaching programme Steve Dudley hosted a one-day Workshop with the Store Managers. The objectives for this were to explain the rationale behind the coaching programme, to introduce them to our sales approach and techniques, and to gain their ideas / buy in on the best way to approach the programme.

Stage 2:

Our retail sales experts then spent one day in each of the selected stores. With each member of the team, they conducted the following:

i)               Observed sales using current techniques
ii)             Provided instant feedback
iii)           Took them through our approach
iv)           Observed them again
v)             Provided further feedback and coaching

Following each one-to-one, team members were given a Personal Development Plan which highlighted key areas for improvement, support required to reach the standard and also how and who would provide this support.

Stage 3:

This follow up stage helped to embed the learnings. We spent a follow up day in each store, reviewing progress, conducting further observations/feedback and giving support as required.


The conversion rates, footfall and ATV for results for the 6 stores that participated in the sales coaching and training programme were compared using data from the 4 weeks preceding the start of the programme, with data from the 4 weeks after the programme was completed.

The results showed that for the 6 stores, there was an increase of £95,000 across the 6 stores.


Our review highlighted significant opportunities to develop the selling techniques being used in stores.  Through observations, feedback and coaching, we were able to give the teams new sales skills (around introductions, building rapport, developing trust, open questions and really understanding the customer’s needs). And with the application of these new learned skills, a significant increase in sales was realised.


Case Study: Thorntons Customer Experience Coaching

Founded in 1911 by confectioner Joseph William Thornton in Sheffield and with over 220 stores across the UK, Thorntons is a well-loved, respected confectionary brand.

Enhancing their Retail Customer Experience

Recognising the need to continually develop their business, Thorntons approached us in October 2016 to help enhance the Customer Experience in their stores using a proactive, personal coaching approach.

Our team of CX trainers and coaches worked with Thorntons’ store managers and retail assistants across a selection of 40 stores throughout the UK to improve their Customer Experience.

Each store was appointed one of four CX coaches and over the next 8 weeks each store received a series of visits from their respective coach.

The coaches worked with all the team members with a focus on changing behaviours and language. Key customer experience areas which were covered included:

·       Does every member of the team fully understand what Customer Experience is?

·       Do they understand why it is important and the benefits for both themselves and the organisation?

·       Do they understand what great looks like?

·       Do they understand the customer journey and the various touch points along the way?

From here, one-to-one coaching was conducted with the team. This consisted of observing them on the sales floor interacting with customers and then providing them with feedback.

The team members were coached on the behaviours and language which are essential for engaging with customers, building trust and fully understanding their needs. Thus, ensuring that customers leave with the product they wanted and have had a great experience, all which will keep them coming back time and time again and helping to create brand advocates.

Outcomes of CX Coaching

The outcomes of the coaching were as follows

Mystery Shop:        The stores we worked with achieved a +11% differential* in Mystery Shop Score

Sales:                         The stores we worked with showed a +8% differential* v Lyr

We found that, by giving the team the tools and skills they required, this improved their confidence and willingness, indeed desire, to engage with customers, which previously had been noticeably lacking.

* When compared with the stores which had received no coaching
The Next Steps in their Customer Experience Journey:

Based on the success of the Customer Experience Coaching, Thorntons are now looking to undertake a full Customer Experience Programme with Into The Blue Consulting.


In April 2012, Casio opened its flagship Store in Covent Garden. By January 2013 it was evident that the store was not performing as expected and key business objectives were not being achieved.

Being primarily an electronics manufacturer and distributor, Casio recognised they lacked the retail knowledge required to turn the performance around.

Our brief was to support the original concept of the store (which was around the repositioning of the Casio brand in terms of luxury and technology) by establishing robust & durable operational procedures (which could be used in any future store rollout programme both in the UK and Europe) and achieve a significant increase in the sales performance.

From the offset, it was evident that many of the basics were not in place:

  • No defined retail strategy
  • No defined KPIs
  • No clearly communicated and understood Vision
  • Poor retail operations processes and disciplines
  • Poor recruitment, induction and training
  • A team lacking leadership, focus, motivation & direction
  • Disjointed Head Office support from central teams which did not understand the store operation

Strategy and People

Once the business objectives and KPI’s had been defined, we created a Vision for the store and drew up the Retail Strategy for Casio UK.

We made people the number one priority in the strategy, knowing that key to the achievement of all goals would be having a great team in place, a high performing team, made up of the right people, with the right attitude, right behaviours and right characteristics. An engaged team, which felt valued, listened to, empowered and trusted & which focused on the customer above all else.

We started by establishing the characteristics and behaviours required to deliver a great Customer Experience. The existing team were involved in this process and then, having worked together to establish ‘what good looked like’, they were each evaluated in-line with the agreed criteria.

Whilst the majority of the team came through, there were, inevitably, some people who did not. The reforming of the team was done with compassion & humility and was made much easier by the fact that the team had been involved in the process, understood what we were doing and why we were doing it.

The main people focused initiatives which we delivered included:

  • An overhaul of the recruitment and induction process
  • Training and Development Plans for every member of the Team
  • Individual KPI Targets, with weekly reviews
  • Structured and documented Monthly One to Ones, with the focus being on support to improve performance
  • Customer Experience & sales training
  • Reward and Recognition, catching people doing things right
  • New Bonus Scheme, focusing on Customer Experience, achievement of personal development targets and Sales performance (Team & individual)
  • Monthly Team Meetings, out of hours and off-site. Listening to what the Team had to say and proving them with the tools they requested to help them deliver their goals

As the figures below show, it was some 8 months before we saw the benefits of the work we were doing start to pay off in the financial performance.

There was, inevitably, some pain along the way. Many of the original team were not customer focused and on occasions, we did not recruit the right people. In all instances, these situations were managed quickly, effectively, with compassion and empathy.

Having identified elements in the Store which would enhance the Customer Experience (lighting, directional signage, point of sale, theatre etc), Casio made the required investment. There was a real commitment at all levels to make this work.

So as to measure the team’s level of customer service, we created a Customer Experience Measurement Program (Mystery Shop). This was tailor made to measure progress against the specific behaviours and language identified as essential for the delivery of the store’s goals. These were conducted on a weekly basis and played a significant part in the development of the team and the level of Customer Experience in the Store.

Collaboration and Relationships

A key element of the work we did was to develop networking and building relationships at the Head Office. We encouraged Teams from Head Office to spend time in the store to better understand how it worked and the challenges faced, and these visits were reciprocated by the Store Team visiting Head Office and working with the teams there. A much greater level of trust was created, and as a result many ‘win win’ scenarios were established with all parties benefiting. The outcome was a much higher level of service support to the store.

Working with the buying and merchandising team, we oversaw the development of product ranges which were far more aligned with the strategy of driving average selling price. This tied in with one of the original goals for the Store of repositioning the brand in terms of luxury and technology.

We encouraged a more commercial approach from the Marketing team, focusing on key trading opportunities. This resulted in significant sales increases at times such as Christmas, Summer & Winter Sales and the launch of new models and collections.


Twelve months later, the store had made significant progress in helping to reposition the Casio brand.

A high performing, motivated, engaged team are in place and has delivered the following results:


Nov. 2013 +26% v Lyr
Dec. 2013 +42% v Lyr
Jan. 2014 +93% v Lyr
Feb. 2014 +107% v Lyr
Apr. 2013 – Mar. 2014 + 30% v Lyr


It’s all about people

People are a businesses most valuable asset. People make the difference.

Key to all of the various elements coming together to deliver the overall Retail Strategy is the creation of a high performing Team, which shares the same Vision and Values, has the right attitude, behaviours and language and which is engaged, motivated and focused. Above all, they are focused on the customer, knowing what’s important to the customer and ensuring it is delivered at all times.

Great customer service starts with engaged, motivated and focused teams. How the team feel about the environment and culture they work in, the manner in which they are led and the way in which they are made to feel valued and trusted, will all be passed onto their customers.

All of the above came to bear in the Casio G-Shock store team. The customer centric culture we created played a major role in the success achieved, resulting in a considerable shift in mind set and culture and sales growth of +30% for the full year 2013-2014.