Overall Excellence Customer First winners - Amelia's story
Every December Dame Mary Perkins will select one or more Customer First winners from throughout the year to receive a special prize, to be recognised as the best of the best of the best.
In 2016, Dame Mary selected three individuals:
- Amelia Kendrick from Chorley
- Hayley Lythgoe from Haverfordwest
- Abi Ballantyne from Middlebrook Hearing Centre
These three winners each received a personalised trophy, a £50 Amazon Gift Card and a certificate signed by Doug, Dame Mary and John Perkins. They were also invited to the support office in Guernsey to receive their awards from Dame Mary and John, have a tour of the office and meet some of teams.
Dame Mary said: ‘When Specsavers started, it made sense to have a vision and values which were to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. It’s quite a difficult thing to do with the volumes of people that come into our stores. To go one step further is absolutely incredible, because that is exceeding customer expectations.’
The retail communications team spoke to Amelia, Hayley and Abi about their inspiring examples of customer service, and about what it means to put the customer first. In the first of three weekly interviews, here’s Amelia’s story.
Amelia was nominated by manager Jack Gregory and won an Excellence award in round 3 for making a little girl’s visit to the opticians magical.
A distressed customer walked into the store. Her son had a strong prescription issued and she was concerned about her daughter, Emily. Amelia booked her in for an eye test, but because Emily suffers from autism she refused to have an eye test. The mother had tried seven times but each time, just the thought of a pre-test reduced Emily to tears. Amelia asked Emily what her favourite thing in the whole world was and she replied ‘Frozen’. That gave Amelia an idea.
Amelia said: ‘I’ve worked with children with autism so I knew a bit about it. I booked the appointment for the following week, making sure it was on a day when I was in. The night before the appointment, I went out and bought loads of Frozen stuff.
‘I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this – I just thought it was a nice thing to do, to make it a better day than it could have been. The next day when they came into the store, I said to Emily: "Come and look in here".’
Emily couldn’t believe her eyes. Amelia had decorated the test room with Frozen banners and arranged for Alicia Hardicker, who conducted the pre-test, to give her some Frozen cupcakes. Distracted by the gifts, Emily happily sat through the pre-test.
Alicia handed Emily over to Mariam Sawar, who discussed Frozen with Emily while she conducted the eye test. Amelia had even bought a Frozen money box to give to Emily as a reward for the experience. Emily needed a prescription and Amelia helped her choose some glasses (Frozen, of course), much to the relief of her mother.
When news of Amelia’s achievement reached the board, she was invited to Birmingham in November to attend the Partners Seminar. John Perkins ended his closing speech by paying tribute to the excellent customer service that takes place in stores, focusing on what is now known worldwide as ‘Amelia’s story’. He was aided by some hand-drawn cartoons depicting the event, which were framed and given to Amelia on her visit to Guernsey. Amelia joined John on stage and received a standing ovation.
‘I was very scared,’ said Amelia of the experience. ‘It was only the Monday before that my director told me. I just went with it. I was shaking on the train on the way back from Birmingham. People were coming up to me – it was like being a celebrity!
‘My mum was going to come with me but she couldn’t make it so my cousin came instead. We made a weekend of it, going on the big wheel and being proper tourists. She even made a video of our experience.’
The video can be seen on YouTube – search ‘Amelias Specsaver weekend’.
Amelia also enjoyed her visit to Guernsey. ‘It was so much fun,’ she said. ‘It was really lovely to go over there and meet the different departments. It's great to work for a company who recognises staff and makes a big deal over things. The extra present from John was great too. I just want to thank everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to do that.’
While Amelia is still considering what to spend her vouchers on, she knows exactly what will happen to her trophy: ‘My mum will have it on her mantelpiece!’
Amelia joined the Chorley store as an apprentice and had only been there six months when Emily came in. She has now completed her apprenticeship and is an in-store trainer. Before she joined Specsavers, Amelia was in the army and then in healthcare,
but when she saw that Specsavers was looking for apprentices it made her think.
‘I wanted to be in an environment where I could help people. That’s just what I’m like,’ she said. ‘I like the training, learning and development route. After a couple of months my director asked if I’d like to host a training session. It’s opened my mind to where I can go in the company.’