Builders' Merchant training initiative of the year
Published:  22 June, 2009

2006 C&W BERRY  Leyland, Lancashire





With the objective of ensuring the customer remains firmly at the top of everyone’s priority list, a Customer Services Training Programme was initiated in April 2006.

The programme involved ‘customer service standards’, devised by the senior management team to highlight the desired high level of customer service expected for each role.

A bespoke one-day workshop-based training programme was developed with the BMF and delivered to all staff – from yard operatives to secretaries, drivers and sales staff, through to the directors.

Workshops provided an opportunity for the new standards to be unveiled, while providing staff with the opportunity to highlight their own solutions for better customer service. Staff were challenged to consider ‘how EH Smith could service customers better’. The feedback generated 14 key improvements that could be made.

Issues were reviewed and addressed, making improvements where applicable.

 An internal newsletter called The Standard was launched, reporting back to staff the results of the workshop stages. It also outlined four recent customer case studies to encourage staff with positive customer experiences.

A second company-wide workshop stage took place to follow-up on progress, invite new ideas, and to reinforce the importance of maintaining new customer service standards.

A committee of volunteers was set up to meet regularly to keep the momentum going and continually improve service levels.

The programme have been far reaching. The approach to customers by staff has improved, as well as communication between departments and teams. Other benefits include:


  • Daily random stock checks which ensure stock counts are kept as accurate as possible.
  • Automated postcode software, to help sales teams take more accurate site information.
  • More efficient yard loading and ticket systems cut loading times and increase ‘up time’.


A number of improved measuring processes have also been implemented by the customer services manager, creating a proactive early warning system for ‘problem tickets’. This has reduced delivery errors, cancelled orders, duplicated orders, loading/picking errors




Leyland, Lancashire

A newly set up in-house training department with dedicated staff and facilities was established to ensure the support of staff seeking professional qualifications.

C&W Berry says it recognises "that if our staff and visitors are to be safe at and the products we sell are to be properly specified and supplied, then we must pay great attention to all health and safety matters.

"Significant amounts of training as part a of a huge health and safety drive have been undertaken in the last 12 months to ensure that we satisfy both legislative requirements and our own exacting standards."

All training activity is assessed, planned, delivered and recorded in a professional and structured manner.

All new staff undertake a monitored and documented induction programme, including hands-on work experience in every customer service department, health and safety training, company systems and procedures, customer service values and key product knowledge.

Existing staff training requirements are carried out during the summer months for every member of staff on an individual basis and used to plan a series of product knowledge training courses during the winter months.

All 210 staff passed an RTITB-certified manual handling course during the last 12 months.

C&W Berry's team is currently working towards qualifications with each of the following professional bodies: the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers; Institute of Transport & Logistics; Chartered Institute of Management Accounts; Association of Accounting Technicians.

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