We believe that to achieve our vision to become a legendary business the customer has to be at the heart of everything we do. Building a strong customer heartbeat is the key to delivering outperformance across all our brands.
We build a strong customer heartbeat by listening to and understanding our customers better; providing outstanding value; delighting them with innovative new products; and making everyday experiences special through great service provided by our 40,000 team members.
Hotels & Restaurants
Premier Inn is passionate about listening to and learning from customers. As well as running regular focus groups, Premier Inn has one of the UK’s largest and most robust customer satisfaction surveys with over 800,000 responses a year, up 20% on last year. The survey rates customer satisfaction across 200 areas of the business from comfort of the bed to friendliness of the team.
Listening to customers in this way has led to some significant operational changes designed to improve the customer experience.
In September 2011 Restaurants introduced a new mystery diner programme whereby each site receives a visit twice a month. The mystery diners are real customers who are asked to test out a customer journey with 25 key touch points and scores are running at an industry-leading 85%. We also operate a Guest Recommend programme that allows customers to give their feedback either via telephone or online. We have introduced a new incentive for customers to complete the survey. This has led to a doubling of responses with each site receiving an average of 60 per month giving the management team a much better understanding of the customer experience on a site-bysite basis.
As with Premier Inn, monthly customer focus groups are a valuable means of gaining insight for the Restaurants team. A direct learning from one of these groups was a better understanding of what customers like about the breakfast offer, which led to greater focus on the breakfast proposition, helping to drive breakfast sales up by 14% in the year.
Restaurants have also increased their Customer Relationship Management capabilities growing the CRM database to over 770,000 customers, up from 450,000 in February 2011. This provides a targeted way of communicating with customers who are sent three to four emails a month that are relevant to them. Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table have all launched new websites in the year, where customers can submit online booking requests and find out information about individual restaurants. The new websites have seen traffic increase by over 100% since launch.
Central to developing Costa’s understanding and insight into the customer has been the introduction of the ‘Listen and Learn’ scheme across the entire UK estate. Launched in September 2011 ‘Listen and Learn’ provides real time customer feedback by store. The online survey consists of just six key questions based on the consumer hierarchy of needs. Customers are then able to give verbatim feedback on their visit, which is analysed and categorised by the system. This allows Costa to understand what is important to customers and act on their feedback. 97% of all feedback comes from our Coffee Club database as customers are sent an email on a quarterly basis asking for feedback on their recent store visit.
The impact of this scheme has been tremendous in driving team engagement and enabling store managers to address any concerns, significantly improving the quality of the customer experience. In addition the business has used key insights from the data, as well as insights gained from research and focus groups, to inform business and marketing strategies. This measure will become bonusable from 2012/13 onwards, cementing the customer’s place at the heart of the business.
Hotels & Restaurants
The secret of Premier Inn’s success is our focus on delivering a ‘good night guaranteed’ for 12 million customers a year. Testament to this is the low level of invocations of the guarantee (when a customer asks for their money to be refunded) at just 0.64% of total rooms sold.
These invocations are used positively to signpost where the Company should focus to improve its customer experience. For example, the most common reason for a customer invoking the guarantee is noise. To address this issue the building specifications have been enhanced to reduce the amount of noise in rooms. At the new Leicester Square hotel, due to open in May 2012, we have created a ‘room within a room’ for additional soundproofing.
Customers have also been given new rates to choose from this year with the introduction of great value ‘Premier Savers’ ranging from £19 to £99. Over 1.8 million of these Premier Savers have been sold this year, representing £56 million worth of revenue. For customers that value flexibility Premier Inn has also introduced the ‘Premier Flex’ product, which is available at a higher rate and allows them to cancel the room up until the day of arrival with no charge.
In a highly value sensitive market our Restaurant brands have been innovating new value-led menus and concepts to attract more covers. Within Brewers Fayre the Buffet Place concept is proving hugely popular with customers. Converted sites have seen a sales uplift of c6%. 71 new Buffet Place sites opened in 2011/12 taking the total to 95 and it will be rolled out to the remaining 34 Brewers Fayre sites in 2012/13. New food nights such as ‘Mexican Night’ keep the concept fresh but the most popular remain ‘Curry Night’ and ‘Chip Shop Night’.
Beefeater Grill and Table Table both introduced new £4.99 menus this year to meet the increasing demand for greater value dishes. These menus still include the customers’ favourite dishes such as fish and chips. Beefeater Grill has dialled up the brand’s steak credentials with new steak seasonings and butters to appeal to its core customer. New styles of food, presented in creative ways, such as dipping breads, bottomless salads and the use of wooden boards instead of plates ensure the quality and style of food remains enticing.
In October 2011 we implemented a new organisation structure in our Hotels & Restaurants business. We put in place a dedicated management team for Restaurants to focus on delivering a best-in-class customer experience.
Key drivers include the introduction of a team member incentive scheme launched in September, which enables team members to earn bonus payments based on their guest promise scores.
New Skills Academies have been set up to train people in food quality and service. The first of these opened in April in Hockley followed by Swindon and Manchester in January 2012. Already 1,700 delegates have passed through these Academies and there are plans for 9,000 team members to attend in 2012/13. Both the Academies and incentive scheme are having a direct impact on the customer service experience and the results can be seen in improved guest scores and like for like sales since the half year.
Once again Costa has enjoyed external independent recognition as the UK’s No. 1 coffee brand. YouGov’s U&A study conducted in January 2012 showed that Costa still has the highest levels of usage in the UK of the key branded coffee shop chains and when it comes to ‘preference’ 30% of the UK adult population said they would choose Costa, compared to 24% who would choose Starbucks and 10% for Caffé Nero.
Costa’s success comes from giving customers a quality coffee experience at their convenience whether it’s from a Costa Express self-serve coffee bar, a new Metro store, a concession in Tesco or a Beefeater Grill restaurant. Over 2011/12 Costa invested in 128 store refurbishments and opened four of their new Metro design stores, including the first outside of London in Leeds.
Over the course of the year Costa has delighted customers with a number of new products including Costa Light, the ‘Have it Your Way Costamisation’ campaign and delicious new flavours in the Ice Cold Costa range.
Last summer’s Ice Cold Costa campaign was the most successful ever; with sales up over 40% driven by best sellers ‘Mango and Passion Fruit Cooler’ and a new ‘Coffee Cooler’. Costa Light was launched in July 2011 and was a direct response to customer insight that showed customers wanted lower calorie coffee products. This is now around 2% of the coffee drinks sales mix.
Although like for like sales were positive, the WINcard score was red for both the Group and Hotels & Restaurants as performance was impacted by challenging economic conditions. All businesses achieved green scores for brand standards, whilst Costa achieved amber scores for like for like sales and ‘guest heartbeat’ as they narrowly failed to meet challenging targets.