- Programme: Strategic Branding
- Nationality: British
- Job Post-programme: Country Manager France, MV Agusta Motorcycles
Education and Career: Neil has a BA in History and started working as a journalist, eventually specialising in motorcycle journalism. From there he went into PR and worked for various organisations around the world, including several involved in Formula One, as a consultant. He joined Triumph in 1996 as Customer Relations Manager and held a number of senior posts before becoming General Manager of the French and Swiss subsidiary a year before attending the programme in June 2007.
Influencing the customer-facing strategy
At Triumph we were very customer focused, and had over the last several years moved from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ strategies. As General Manager, it was important that I brought my people with me and got them to see the value of this type of strategy. Previously we used to sell to dealers, who sell to the public, but we then focused on the final customers, to ensure we – and our dealers – were creating a demand for customers to come and buy our product. The big challenge was getting my team to accept that they can influence the customer-facing strategy.
Getting a clearer focus
The programme gave me the opportunity to focus for a week on that single issue. A week like this gets rid of the noise and clarifies some thinking, refocusing on the things you’re working on, and thinking through the communication of strategy to colleagues and reports. The issues covered weren’t entirely new to me (I’d covered a lot of them in the Accelerated Development Programme a few years ago) but having the week to get a clearer focus on where we were going, and why, allowed me to bring my team along with me.
Delivering a commercial benefit
When I returned to the office, I presented the outline of the programme and the key objectives in a couple of slides to the management team. We were already working with the concept of this customer-facing ‘pull’ approach, but following the programme, I was able to make things much clearer to them in terms of simple steps, particularly the importance of knowing who the customer is, and showing how they can apply that knowledge in everything we did. This programme helped me to clarify the connection between each step to deliver a commercial benefit in the end.
Following the programme we had some good results. These were not due to just one thing, because everything that we did was aimed at customer satisfaction: the bikes were beautiful, they ran well and the dealers felt special. However, in the year to date, our retail sales had increased by 50% in my area, on 50% the year before. It was our strategy on customer focus that had achieved this. Spending a week looking at this issue allowed me to refocus on the key strategic and commercial elements and our customer satisfaction index was showing the results in higher volumes and greater satisfaction.