Bentley, Cars, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Quality

A Case Study in Quality – Bentley Cars

I was lucky enough to have a trip to Bentley yesterday, along with my fellow leaders at Achievers Academy for Women.  I didn’t know a great deal about the brand or the cars before my visit and I was intrigued to find out more.  I love cars, I love great FullSizeRenderquality, craftsmanship and great customer service.  All of these are apparent in spades from the moment we arrived at their offices in Crewe.

The gleaming cars and the Bentley wings were on display at their prestigious new customer experience centre CW1.  We were met and greeted by our guide for the morning, Nigel.  We started with refreshments in their customer lounge area.  You might be expecting lots of masculine dark leather and winged back chairs.  None of that in their new cutting edge purpose-built showroom.  It’s all modern, clean lines and the highest of quality.

Here are just a few of the options and choices you get to make when specifying your new Bentley.  There are so many colour choices, options on colour and type of stitching.  If you have one, you can even have your coat of arms or logo stitched in to the headrests – whatever floats your boat!  Nigel was even telling us that one overseas princess asked them to match the colour of her cars to her favourite nail varnish!

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We then set off on the factory tour – here are a few photos from the initial rooms, once we were in the factory, no cameras were allowed for obvious reasons.


Here’s W.O Bentley – founder of the company in 1919.

It was incredible to see the factory – it’s my first time on a factory tour, so I had no idea what to expect.  Everyone was wearing white and pale grey, so it made the environment seem quite scientific.  The line moves slowly to allow each job to be completed.  We chatted to a few of the staff along the way.  We were shown how the steering wheel and seats are hand stitched – we were even given a leather sample with a cross-stitch on it as a souvenir!

We were really impressed by the wood veneer and the process it goes through from root ball of a walnut tree to becoming part of the trim in the cars – we saw them being created by the presses.  Every element of the process using the highest quality products and many man-hours and skill to complete.  In the woodworking shop there are sons, fathers and grand-fathers all working together – passing on the skill and knowledge from generation to generation – very impressive.

I love these two quotes I saw on the walls there: ‘We start where others stop’ and ‘we’ve been taking things personally for nearly 250 years’.  They both demonstrate the attention to detail, the bespoke nature of the cars and the outstanding customer service.

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We all learned lots of great lessons from our day at Bentley.  If I had a spare £140k I’d have no hesitation in buying one!!  Here I am just testing out the feel of my future car!!

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Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Communication, Customer Service, Lyn Bromley, Uncategorized

Communication Skills for the NHS

body_languageDid you know that one of the most common complaints about the NHS is poor communication?  The NHS trust in the area that I live in, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, or SWFT, has a great reputation and scores very highly in feedback surveys.  At their recent nursing conference they still decided to select ‘communication’ as their main theme.  It’s interesting isn’t it, that those who are at the excellent end of the spectrum often choose to learn more.  You might think that there is no need, if they are already doing well, why strive for improvement?  Well, it is this very attitude of wanting to continually improve that puts them at the top of their profession.  The aspect that I most noticed about the group of 200 or so professionals, was that they were totally engaged and had an attitude of wanting to learn more, even though I had the ‘graveyard’ slot immediately after lunch!  This is a byproduct of what happens whether there is a culture of continuous improvement in place – people have an expectation of learning and are open to taking on new information.  They know that they are not there to be ‘fixed’ because something is broken, they know that their employers value them so highly that they continually invest in their professional development, whether that be clinical training or soft-skills training.

For people who wear uniform, their communication skills are really important, especially when they are in a caring profession because we have an expectation that they should be, well, caring!  If we are met with a situation where they are not, it really jars with our preconceived idea of how they should behave.  Their appearance is key – we expect them to be smart, clean and tidy.  Of course their uniform helps with that, but grooming is incredibly important too – you wouldn’t want to be treated by a nurse that looks a little grubby!

Their uniform already tells us much about who they are – it’s a shorthand to tell us that they are qualified and there to help.  They have an opportunity to bring their own personality to bear through their communication style, tone of voice and body language.  Nurses probably come under more scrutiny than most.  Imagine being a patient in a hospital bed.  Once you have read your magazines, eaten a few grapes and done your crossword, what else is there to do but watch the interactions of the staff in the hospital?  We find people infinitely fascinating and they draw our attention to them all the time.  We pick up on subtle clues from the unspoken word – our body language gives so many clues to what is going on and how we feel.  Are we stressed, are we calm and have everything under control?  Patients observing these interactions between health professionals will read all kinds of information from them and they will pick up on the smallest changes in body language – we are programmed and attuned to do this.  Remember our flight or fight response that I have spoken about in my earlier blog ‘Are you being Authentic?’

The nursing profession is the ultimate in customer service and we do have high expectations.  In all the interactions I have ever had with our local NHS nurses, they have all been excellent and am very thankful for that!


Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director for Regional Support of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke training and workshops or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038



Customer Service, First Impressions, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Planning

Why customer service is so important

As promised, I have a guest blog for you today.  This is a great piece on the importance of customer service by Gordon Carmichael of Key Parker, a fabulous creative agency.

The art of good customer service is about knowing what your customers’ wants and needs are before they do.

Allow us a comic example: there’s a scene in ‘Coming to America’ where Eddie Murphy asks a waiter in a restaurant to taste his soup.

“Is the soup not your liking sir?” asks the waiter.

“Just taste the soup.”

“Is the soup cold sir?” he asks again

“Just taste the soup.”

“Is this not what you ordered sir?”


“Yes sir…oh but you don’t appear to have a spoon.”

“Ah, now we’re getting somewhere!”

As they say: fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

In an age where commoditisation and price pressure are commonplace, service is the one area where a brand can create real differentiation.

As management guru Peter Drucker puts it:

‘A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence’.

Its often been said that the definition of a brand is its customers’ gut feeling about its products or service.

Those products and services provide customers with a choice. But it’s the brand and its values that can define whether those customers will choose one product or service over another.

Service is a key pillar in building a successful and sustainable brand. And when it costs at least five times as much to win a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, why would you play customer service roulette?

Social media has raised the profile of customer service and enabled it to be used as a key marketing tool. But with the proliferation of voucher sites, discount codes and price comparison sites the customer service water can appear cloudy. However, in the long run, customers will always return to the clarity of a service that values them as an individual.

Great customer service is a virtuous circle. Creating a compelling value proposition will build loyalty, which in turn will build growth, which will lead to increased profit, which can be reinvested in compelling value propositions.

Going back to Eddy Murphy and his soup, that starts by having the tools in place to deliver the right service and those value propositions.

For more blogs by Key Parker, please visit the ‘musings’ page of their website.  It’s definitely worth a look as it is one of the best sites I have ever seen and a great showcase of their creative and digital talent.