Andrew McMillan

Principal at Engaging Services, Customer Service Expert, Former John Lewis Director
Andrew McMillan
  • Specialises in employee engagement, customer experience, and the leadership required to link the two
  • Helps organisations join up their own internal dots to create their unique link between employee engagement and consistently great customer experience
  • Spent 28 years at the John Lewis Partnership, developing market-leading culture and attitude towards customer experience and sales

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Andrew specialises in employee engagement, customer experience and the leadership required to create the link between the two. Previously, he spent 28 years working for the John Lewis Partnership, starting as a management trainee to becoming responsible for customer experience across the department store division.

Andrew’s aim is to make individuals and organisations happier and more fulfilled through a sense of collective purpose, so they engender trust, loyalty and advocacy from their customers while becoming more productive and, as a consequence, more profitable. He helps organisations join up their own internal dots to create their unique link between employee engagement and consistently great customer experience.

Whether it’s public sector, not for profit or a large multinational, Andrew places an emphasis on understanding what makes (or can make) them different and special for their customers. Often different parts of an organisation believe they have different purposes, but Andrew enables them to cut through their differences in perception and experience. By uncovering inherent values and a shared enthusiasm he brings about employee engagement and growth.

Andrew also looks at the roles of leadership, communication, trust and enjoying work in creating success. In presentations, he explains that great customer experience cannot be taught but reflects a great internal culture. By developing a personality and values that are realistic, honest, and shared, organisations can deliver a degree of long lasting, competitive differentiation that few achieve, but many aspire to.

Andrew has spoken at conferences worldwide. He does not have a standard ‘deck’ of slides, preferring to create presentations from a substantial slide library that reflects his experience at John Lewis and beyond. Consequently, presentation content is created collaboratively with clients and tailored to meet the precise needs of their event, with bespoke slides being written when required. Along with stories and examples from his extensive experience, presentations also include practical solutions that can be implemented quickly and with minimal cost.

Andrew started his career as a management trainee with the John Lewis Partnership at Brent Cross in North London. He quickly moved up through the management ranks and led a number of selling teams in different branches, culminating in heading a department in the flagship Oxford Street branch.

From there he moved to the head office to take charge of the department stores’ Intelligence Team. They acted as an internal business consultancy, reporting on competitive strategy, product differentiation and value, catchment area demographics for new branches and customer experience.

In 2000 Andrew was asked to lead on customer experience for the department store division. The role saw him develop JLP’s market-leading culture and attitude towards customer experience and sales with the 30,000 customer-facing Partners in 26 John Lewis shops across the UK. That customer-driven culture is something that has now became synonymous with the John Lewis brand. During his tenure John Lewis frequently won awards for customer experience from Which? Verdict and Retail Week and were regularly cited in the media as a leading customer oriented organisation. He was also responsible for the management and resolution of the group’s customer complaints.

While at John Lewis, Andrew advised many other non-competing organisations on their customer experience strategy and became recognised globally as an expert in the field.

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Speaker Video

Andrew McMillan: Company Structure

Developing a distinct and differentiated customer experience delivered through employees to define the brand Have you really thought about what your customers experience when they interact with front-line employees and how they subsequently feel about your organisation? Many organisations focus on their product, services or processes when they think about customer experience and the interaction with employees is left to chance. Just as many of the numerous awards John Lewis win cite the quality of the experience delivered through their employees as they recognise the quality of their products and services. It's a potential major point of differentiation in a crowded marketplace and one that many organisations fail to capitalise upon.

Leadership and customer service Many organisations try to train their employees to deliver great customer service. However, the effect of these training programmes is often diluted a few days or weeks after the course has been delivered. The key to delivering a differentiated and sustainable customer experience is through leadership and coaching towards a defined, clearly articulated and measured aim.

Organisational development to enhance customer service Many organisations seem to focus on process to the point that frontline employees are always busy with tasks that take their efforts away from giving a memorable level of service. Similarly, the managers of those organisations find themselves focusing on managing those tasks rather than leading and coaching their teams to deliver memorable customer service. An external focus rather than an internal focus can deliver remarkable results.

Defining and shaping organisational culture What did your organisation set out to be for its customers at its inception? Usually, in a start-up business, high quality personal customer service is a given or the business will fail. However, as organisations grow they often lose touch with their roots and process and cost management start to dominate the agenda. Culture and behaviour within an organisation can't be trained, but they can be shaped though an overt consciousness of what the organisation aims to achieve.

Selling though service and relationships So many organisations take a short term view to sales - maximise the sale today and don't think about tomorrow. However, taking a longer term view of a customer and focusing on their individual needs rather than the immediate needs of the organisation can, over time, build a degree of trust and loyalty that will transcend any level of economic uncertainty. 

Managing customer complaints to enhance reputation We've all heard the figures that a satisfied customer tells x number of people whereas a dissatisfied customer tells x+++ number of people. However, many dissatisfied customers who experience a swift positive outcome are likely to become the strongest advocates of an organisation while providing some free consultancy as to how that organisation can become more customer focused.

Fun at work to improve commercial success and productivity Fun at work is often seen as frivolous and rarely finds itself on the strategic agenda. However, when appropriate, it can create an environment that reduces employee turnover and improves productivity. When employees are really happy at work it has a very positive effect on the quality of customer service too which in turn enhances turnover and profits.

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