Together with its case study on St Pancras featuring the actors used in the programme, Echelon showcases its service brand development work for commercial and public sector organisations including, Basingstoke & Deane Council, BUPA, Queens Moat House Hotels, Stena, and Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust.
“Building a service brand”, according to Echelon director David Hill, “starts at two points in an organisation – from the top down and from the bottom up.
“The executive determines the service standards to which the company should aspire and cascades them throughout the organisation. New recruits are inducted into these standards which, in many cases, form part of the organisation’s performance management.”
In the case of London and Continental Railways (LCR), some 400 potential recruits - whittled down by telephone screening from a total application of 1,570 - were invited to attend Arsenal’s prestigious new Emirates Stadium for assessment.
Groups of up to 12 candidates took part in a half-day selection exercise which involved watching scenarios played out by actors and then becoming involved interactively.
Candidates were invited to comment on a scene involving a customer complaint, identify irregularities and potential hazards in a photograph taken at St Pancras, and then draft a report of an incident.
One-to-one interviews rounded off the exercises, observed throughout by a team of Echelon’s assessors - and 77 customer service officers (CSOs) were subsequently appointed.
The second stage in brand building took place during induction, where the CSOs honed their customer service skills and developed an understanding of a role involving a number of job-based service practices.
"Once the new staff have received their technical training and induction programme, they will be undergoing further customer care training, putting in place the fundamental criteria by which these staff can be perceived, and judged, by the travelling public," explains Echelon director David Hill.
Hill adds that the whole 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. Echelon’s use of actors as part of the assessment as well as the training process marks a first for the industry, says Hill.
St Pancras will not only be the key destination for the Eurostar and high-speed rail in the UK, but a major retail and hospitality destination.
Facilities include Europe's longest champagne bar, a daily farmers’ market and world class brasserie, and an individual mix of independent boutiques along with some of the best known names in High Street retailing. The Echelon initiative plays an important part in the development of the unique St Pancras brand.
"The strategy to use actors in such an impressive venue lent the proceedings a real ‘wow’ factor and fast-tracked identifying and developing the best candidates from so many applicants," says Hill.
LCR is now adopting the strategy for the integration of new with existing staff members, and their development both organisationally - in terms of excellent service practices - and personally, through customer service training.
T: +44 (0)1296 715228; E: echelon[.]pmpr.co.uk
T: +44 (0)20 8568 1500; E: david[.]echelonl.com
About the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL)
Full UK Government approval was granted in 1996 for the two sections of the 69-mile (108km) high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). The opening date of the first phase, 43km, was 28 September 2003, with the rest four years afterwards. Speeds of up to 186mph (300km/hr) make the journey time from London's Waterloo International station to Paris, Lille and Brussels up to 20 minutes quicker (fastest journey times of 1hr 40min to Lille, 2hr 20min to Brussels and 2hr 35min to Paris).
After 11 years of financial and political turmoil, the £1.9 billion project moved forward after the signing by London & Continental Railways (LCR) in October 1999 of construction contracts for the new line from the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction in north-west Kent.
Railtrack agreed to fund the construction of the shorter but more expensive CTRL Phase 2, from Fawkham Junction to London St Pancras via north Kent and east London. This will complete a high-speed route from the Channel Tunnel to London by 2007.
The CTRL project was originated by London & Continental Railways, a consortium of eight major shareholders, including design and planning consultancy Ove Arup and Partners, engineering firm Bechtel, train and transport operators Virgin and National Express, investment bank SBG Warburg and French rail project manager Systra. Control passed to the newly-formed Network Rail in 2002.
Once the whole line is open in late 2007, London-Paris times should be cut to 2 hours 15 minutes, with Brussels possible in two hours. The Channel Tunnel portal is just 35 minutes from St Pancras and, from 2009, Kent services will see significant reductions with Ashford taking around 36 minutes from London via the CTRL.
CTRL domestic services will connect London with Gravesend, Margate and Broadstairs by joining the classic network at Ebbsfleet, while services to Canterbury, Ramsgate and possibly Dover will continue to Ashford to join existing routes there.
About Echelon Learning Ltd
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.