​Speakers in the Spotlight: Andrew McMillan


The career of Andrew McMillan is, by his own admission, largely defined by a 28-year tenure at employee-owned department store John Lewis, a flagship of British retail.

Speakers in the Spotlight: Andrew McMillan

The career of Andrew McMillan is, by his own admission, largely defined by a 28-year tenure at employee-owned department store John Lewis, a flagship of British retail.

Andrew didn’t come to John Lewis with a background in customer service, in fact prior to John Lewis he’d never had a ‘proper’ job. He climbed the ladder from a management trainee to a customer service expert for all the firm’s department stores, effectively tailoring the customer service culture that has become a fundamental foundation of the John Lewis brand.

Although his impressive career at John Lewis ended 8 years ago, Andrew has since gone on to become a principle consultant at a leading consultancy firm in London. Adept in both the public and private sector, his portfolio boats major clients such as Plymouth City Council as well as large private sector corporations like First Direct and Virgin Atlantic.

LIW 2016, namely the Operators & Keynote Conference, is where you’ll find Andrew on Tuesday 20th September – amidst a burgeoning diary of business and retail speaking engagements as the demand for his consultancy increases.

His talk, which will be followed by a lengthy Q&A session for those who have been suitably inspired, will look at the specifics behind customer service and employee engagement.

So what’s his angle? Well, simply, it’s about philosophy.

Andrew explains: “The most fundamental thing for any business or organisation to do is to look at the philosophy and how a certain ethos is being cultivated by engaging both with customers and with employees.

Service tends to reflect internal culture; you can’t teach it and stick it onto an unhappy organisation. Even when cuts need to be made changes to process can often reduce costs whilst enabling service levels to be maintained, or even improved. The priority is to keep in touch with customers’ expectations.”

How is this achieved? Well the real main course will be served in the talk itself, of course. But what Andrew preaches, in essence, is to review your existing performance and to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer.

For example, there are 4 elements to consider:

Product or service: Is your product fit for the market? Does it represent great value? It is viable?

Channel: How easy are you to access? Do you provide a mobile app? Is your website responsive?

Process: How easy are you to do business with? Do you have the correct infrastructure?

Engagement: How did it feel? What is your customer response? How do your staff respond?

Creating employee engagement is a particularly topical issue for the leisure sector, with staff retention remarkably low. Andrew has a simple way of looking at it:

“The thing to do is to look at your best person within your company. Are they right? Are they the best person to represent your business? Staff aren’t always consistent – so how can this be improved? I look at Ritz Carlton as a pinup for other companies to admire. As a customer, the experience you receive is incredible and that can only be achieved because the employees are treated in the same way.”

Impressive stuff. If you think you could benefit from the expertise and knowledge of Andrew then seeing him is simple.

Head over to the Operators & Keynote Conference at 12pm on Tuesday 20th September.