Shugborough, the ancestral home of the late Patrick Lichfield, is a working estate and stately home in Staffordshire.
When General Manager Richard Kemp took over the reins at Shugborough, he set about creating a ‘confident new culture’, focussing on creating a top league visitor attraction that could command increased pricing.
Central to Richard’s vision was that all staff at Shugborough – including backroom staff – should undergo training through Welcome to Excellence.
Richard says ‘When I arrived, only one staff member had been on a Welcome to Excellence course. We put every scrap of our training budget towards Welcome to Excellence so we could put every single one of the 130 staff through Welcome Host training. This included the caretakers, gardeners, accounts staff and all the office support staff. I wanted to start at Ground Zero. Although these people think they are not part of the frontline customer experience, they do of course talk to customers and it is important that they know that they should be focussing on delivering the right customer service at all times.
‘The results have been dramatic. In many cases, it has transformed the way the staff see their role. Hearing that you are part of the tourism industry, the largest industry in the UK, changes your perspective and helps bolt you into the rest of the world. You realise that you are not just an accountant or a gardener – you are an important part of creating a leading UK visitor attraction. For example, I was really encouraged the other day when a gardener said to me ‘ I want to improve that section of verge – it is the first thing visitors see.’ Previously he might well have been just as concerned with some far- flung section of the grounds, shaping his priorities according to different, less customer-focussed criteria. This is a hugely important step forward.’
‘At first some of the staff could not see the point of the Welcome to Excellence training’ said Richard ‘but afterwards many said to me ‘It was brilliant! It has changed the way I am doing my job’.
‘One of the back office staff said that Welcome to Excellence had made her realise that there is always a solution and that rather than saying ‘No’ she should always say ‘Yes’ and then set out to find a way of providing a solution. You can imagine the radical difference that this change in approach is likely to make for the business.’
Richard continues. ‘The Welcome to Excellence trainers are fantastic. They really are top-notch. They have so much positive enthusiasm that it pulls you along with them. At the same time, they keep it light and focussed. The quality of the trainers really is totally amazing.’
Richard sums up ‘To achieve our goal of making Shugborough a world class visitor attraction, we need to have world class customer service at the heart of the organisation. Thanks to Welcome to Excellence, we are on our way.’