London, UK: October 2007
An objective to ensure that customer services at London’s newly restored St Pancras International rail terminus match the quality of new facilities has been met in an innovative human resources initiative by Echelon Learning on behalf of London & Continental Railways (LCR).
In addition to being a key destination for Eurostar and UK high-speed rail services, St Pancras International – which re-opens November 14th after an £800m restoration – has become a retail and leisure destination.
The station offers Europe’s longest champagne bar, a daily farmers’ market, a world-class brasserie and an individual mix of 67 independent boutiques and shops featuring some of High Street retail’s best known brands.
LCR has built a quality service brand to match the expectations of the station’s retail and hospitality tenants from ground-up, starting with recruitment.
Interview forums devised by advisors Echelon Learning saw 400 potential recruits selected after telephone screening from a total application of 1570, attend half-day assessment workshops at Arsenal’s Emirates football stadium.
Groups of up to 12 candidates participated in different customer service scenarios played out by actors. Further exercises tested candidates’
observation skills by identifying irregularities and potential hazards in a specially contrived photograph of the station’s concourse.
Skills of acuity were also assessed through listening to and drafting a report of an incident.
One-to-one interviews rounded off the exercise observed by a team of Echelon ‘s assessors and 77 customer service officers (CSOs) were subsequently appointed.
Further brand building during induction involved CSOs honing their customer service skills and developing an understanding of a future role involving a number of job-based service practices.
St Pancras is heralded as the most technologically advanced railway station in the world. Digital glass screens behind service desks will display customer information. A single departures board is being replaced with customer information points located around the station as well as small departures board scrolling train information.
A future development enables passengers to receive information about train departure times and platform numbers via SMS.
In training, CSOs have also been acquainted with the technologies being implemented to assist them, including customer service information updated regularly via each individual’s mobile personal digital assistance (PDAs).
“Staff technical training and induction have been followed by further customer care training, putting in place the criteria by which they are perceived and judged by the travelling public,” explains Echelon director David Hill.
Hill adds that the programme – from recruitment and selection to induction and customer care training – has been devised to allow the ‘seamless’
development of a highly professional brand of customer service.
Alison Smith, station manager St Pancras and Ebbsfleet international stations cites the initiative as playing an important part in the development of the St Pancras International brand.
“Both St Pancras International and Ebbsfleet International are being transformed to set new standards for railway stations in the 21st century.
St Pancras International, as Eurostar’s new central London home, will also be a place where the heart of London meets the heart of Europe,” she says.
“With expectations justifiably high, it is vital that station users will be met and helped by service staff not only with the right knowledge but also highest level of inter-personal skills that this job demands.
“Echelon’s strategy to use actors in such an impressive venue lent the proceedings a real ‘wow’ factor. It also enabled us to quickly identify and develop the best candidates from so many applicants.”
The process worked so well that LCR has adopted it for the integration of new recruits with existing staff members.
Echelon has held Development Centres for St Pancras’s 70 existing staff. The company has adapted its Interview Forum model to assess existing levels of competence to deliver LCR’s visionary Service Brand and in addition the capability of each staff member to act as either mentor, role model or coach to the new recruits. Existing staff were also assessed in the advanced technical skills required to work in the new station control room.
Additional processes provided by Echelon will be used for further development of staff skill sets in brand service development and customer service training.
Released October 2007 on behalf of Echelon Publishing by BLP&PR
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About Echelon Learning
Echelon Learning is a consultancy-led publishing house that integrates electronically-delivered knowledge and learning into the development of management skills and business performance. Its consulting division has won four national training awards for customer service initiatives.
Echelon Learning is a consultancy-led publishing house that integrates electronically-delivered knowledge and learning into the development of management skills and business performance.
Echelon Consulting spearheads the company’s service with the development of new content in meeting clients’ requirements. This is usually derived from analysing employee knowledge and learning needs captured during client learning programmes.
Where appropriate, Echelon Publishing then offers this new content to a wider audience by publishing the material in generic format. This is made available in the form of easy to use ‘learning nuggets’ and is complimented with business development information licensed exclusively from one of the market’s best-known providers, Bloomsbury.
Echelon e-Learning provides the electronic systems which enable content to be published, distributed and usage tracked, and offers work-based solutions to a global audience. Echelon’s blended learning based on a bespoke site populated with material selected to support specific courses, builds knowledge prior to the event and refreshes application when back at the desk.
About Echelon Publishing
Echelon technologies help organisations place solutions at people’s fingertips, whether solving everyday business and work-related problems or helping gain qualifications and continued professional development.
Has a content management system enabling informational or learning material to be developed or converted into XML so that it can be published and distributed in text and/or via the web.
Has a learning management system to provide ready access via the web to highly structured information, which is easily searched and retrieved, and whose usage can be tracked and learning logged.
Publishes and/or reformats content for professional bodies and commercial organisations to help students and employees maintain or develop requisite skills throughout their careers.
Supports people from the outset of their careers in working with professional bodies to develop and deliver the learning content required by students in preparing for examination.
Frees up the knowledge and learning contained within a business so that people have ready access to these resources in helping them to solve problems or develop their careers.
Works with a number of blue chip organisations and professional bodies, including:
BUPA Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development
Coventry Building Society Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants
Lincoln Financial Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply
Moat House Hotels Construction Industry Training Board
Modernisation Agency (NHS) Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators
Channel Tunnel Rail Link Institute of Chartered Accountants in E & W
NHS Logistics Institute of Civil Engineers
Vodafone Royal Town Planning Institute