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Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the UK’s leading flagship theatres, renowned for world class productions and attracting international audiences.

Theatre Manager, Janet Bakose, has a vision of creating an excellent standard of customer care throughout the theatre.

‘I want visitors to be sure of unparalleled customer service at the theatre. I want it to be consistent, not just the odd good encounter. Everyone should know how to deal with any problems effectively and how to make sure the customer experience is paramount. Our famous Summer Festival runs from April –September and we have a large number of seasonal staff, so it is important to ensure that all staff are trained to the same high standard.’

To turn her vision into reality, Janet initially took training in Welcome Host, Welcome Host Plus and Welcome All, then became an in-house trainer for the theatre.

‘Although initially I was nervous at delivering the training, now that I have done my first sessions, I think it is a really good programme and I am enjoying it very much. It is rewarding to see peoples’ attitudes change once they have completed the training day. I think it makes them more positive and the course inspires them to work very hard to ensure they deliver good customer service.’

Janet continues ‘We have a wide age range of staff – from students to people in their seventies. At first I thought the older employees who have worked here for ages may be resistant to change – but, in fact, they have loved the Welcome to Excellence training and it makes them more aware of the overall business and more informed about how to act in certain situations.

Younger staff sometimes find it hard to deal with complaints and difficult customers, but Welcome to Excellence helps them to learn not to take complaints or criticism personally and gives them more confidence. During the training, I make sure they are aware of how far they should go with the complaint before passing it to their line manager.’

‘Now my aim is to train enough people through Welcome to Excellence that we can be accredited. Once 50% of the staff are trained, we can include it in our literature.

I see Welcome to Excellence as an ongoing programme at the heart of our organisation. I don’t intend to just focus on the introductory course, Welcome Host, I want to help people progress through the higher level courses too. If we make world-class customer service a top priority, the theatre will reap the rewards.'

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