As we get into January, traditionally our quietest period, we’re using this time for professional training, ensuring our already amazing team are just that little bit more amazing. Our Visitor Operations Manager, James Rodliff, explains one of the methods we’ve been using…
Customer Service is at the very heart of everything we do at the Mary Rose Museum. We ask the question ‘does it benefit our visitors?’ to ourselves every time we make changes or consider our future strategy. The museum has had a tradition of delivering excellent service which was evident through the wonderful feedback we have received through online media and also internally through survey we carry out in-house. We have consistently been over 90% very good or excellent on TripAdvisor and exceed our 90% customer satisfaction surveys on our internal measures. We were even awarded a Customer Service award at the Portsmouth News Retail and Leisure Awards!
Although we were happy with these statistics, we maintain a strong mantra of continually wanting to improve. We had delivered many workshops to the team based around the interpretation of the collection but since opening the museum we hadn’t completed any specifically aimed at delivering consistent and great customer service. Early on we had made the decision not just to train our 30 customer facing staff but also our very diverse team of over 100 volunteers and also our other departments such as Events, Education and Digital Marketing. We spent a long time meeting people and discussing different training programmes but none quite had the flexibility we were looking for. After a meeting between Paul Griffiths (Head of Operations) and Matt Stamp of People 1st Training at the 2014 Visitor Attractions Conference we started to consider the ‘WorldHost’ programme and how that could fit around our schedules and requirements along with its relevance to our sector.
Developed originally in Canada the programme came to prominence in the UK during the London 2012 Olympics. In preparation for the event tens of thousands of volunteers and staff were trained and the welcome given to visitors was positively reported globally. With the ‘WorldHost’ training package specifically aimed at hospitality and tourism it made it an excellent fit for us at the museum and what we wanted to achieve.
One of the benefits of the programme was that it enables organisations to get one of their internal team registered a licensed ‘Trainer’ and then deliver the training in-house. This was essential for us in achieving our ambitious plans of training so many of the team, including volunteers, some of whom are only available one day a week. Another important aspect was that once completing the one day ‘Principles of Customer Service’ training, those who completed it received a certificate and pin badge, allowing our team to display their achievement. For many within the museum it acted as a good uplifting refresher for customer service, but for other members of the team (young and old) it was their first experience of this kind of training. Additionally we completed some supported sessions with members of the team who had already completed the training supporting those with different abilities.
As I have had experience with training earlier in my career I volunteered to be put forward for the ‘train the facilitator workshop’ in London. I was in excellent company and had a very long, but incredibly rewarding, three days of training with one of the master trainers, David Snelders. Thankfully I passed this course which then gave me my license to facilitate others in completing the ‘Principles of Customer Service’ course.
The initial wave of workshops was carried out from April through to June and although I was the one at the front of the classroom, the whole team got behind it and helped me arrange the room, materials and communication. During these 10 sessions 107 members of the team completed and passed. The groups were completely mixed between teams from different days of the week and also different departments. The sessions involve a lot of interaction and doing so is a requisite of passing. This resulted in an unexpected but highly advantages side effect of being an excellent tool for bonding the team together.
The sessions themselves received excellent feedback from the team who all said they really enjoyed it and now proudly wear their ‘WorldHost’ badges. In the summer the Museum received recognition as a ‘WorldHost Recognised Business’, the first major museum in England to achieve this accolade. We have seen both an increase in the percentage of ‘Excellent’ and ‘Very Good’ reviews on Tripadvisor as well as uplift in satisfaction scores on our internal surveys.
Going forward we are entering a very exciting phase of works at the museum which will allow for an unprecedented training opportunity as the main body of the museum will be undergoing remodelling. I will be attending a ‘Complete the Suite’ course which will mean we are able to facilitate other workshops such as ‘Service Across Cultures’ and ‘Customers with Disabilities’. In addition we want to increase our team from 85% to 100% completion in time to relaunch our spectacular museum in Summer 2016.
Visitor Operations Manager