From nowhere to exemplar: Achieving growth without focusing on sales

28 February 2021 | 4 min read | News
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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Listen by clicking image above, or read the transcript below.


After five consecutive years of back-to-back losses and a customer service reputation in tatters following an unenviable appearance on the BBC’s ‘Watchdog’, a slating by MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis, and a digital footprint that left a bitter taste in its mouth for some time, delivery firm Yodel successfully turned a profit and has become ranked by Which? as one of the five highest performing delivery companies in the UK – ahead of the likes of UPS and Royal Mail.

So, how did they do it?

It was simple really. They created an emotional attachment between their people and customers, and implemented a customer feedback program which made each and every driver accountable to each and every customer.

These two actions had a profound and positive impact.

Yodel’s leadership created a vision and set of values that were clearly communicated to everyone at every level of the business. They stated their intention to “have the best reputation in the country” – a big ask given their position at the time.

But any organisational vision must be one that is both stretching and seemingly out of reach, yet still achievable.

Rather than viewing what they do as their ‘job’, Yodel’s delivery teams were encouraged to look beyond the parcel – to consider what each item being delivered could mean to their customer.

It could be a simple everyday object, or one that is potentially life changing. It made no difference. Yodel just asked their people to, as they said, “take delivery personally” and to do it with purpose with each of the 150 million parcels they collectively deliver each year.

The promise to “deliver a great customer experience” saw the number of complaints fall, and after five years of losses the business was eventually able to increase its prices which then saw it return a profit for the first time.

When teams have a sense of purpose which is centred on the organisation’s customers and improving their lives, value is created and those businesses who operate in this way always outperform their peers.

We’ve seen this at first hand ourselves.

The last 12 months has been exceptionally hard for many businesses and so when things turned really bad in 2020 we instilled a mindset in our people that the work they were doing was not simply aimed at making their clients famous, or to be perceived as being leading industry experts.

Rather, it was playing a critical role in supporting their clients with reaching the right people, in the right way and at the right time. It created value whether in the form of generating new enquiries or encouraging word of mouth referrals that could form a longer-term pipeline.

Publicly stating your purpose is all very well, but it must be compelling and form the beating heart of the organisation.

Yodel took ownership of the problems they faced, created a new sense of purpose that was manifested in its renewed vision and values, and set about gaining buy-in from everyone else in the organisation.

In doing so, they went from the worst performing player in the industry to regarded as an exemplar of customer service.

Your brand is not just about the way you market yourself; it is embodied in how you act, what you say and do. If you’re a recruiter, what impact might your next hire have on that person’s life especially in the current climate? If you’re in charge of admissions at an independent school, how will the next new pupil’s future be transformed as a result of being enrolled at your institute?

Food for thought.