Cork City businesses at inspirational customer service seminar

Alf Dunbar Customer Service training

Pictured at the training are (l to r): John McCarthy, Pennys; Alf Dunbar, top UK performance coach; Joan Lucey, Vibes and Scribes; Paul McGuirk, LEO Cork City, Ray Kelleher, Trigon Hotels.

Almost 400 frontline staff from retail and hospitality businesses across Cork city attended an inspirational, motivational and educational customer service training session in the Everyman Theatre last night with one of the UK’s top performance coaches.

The event organised by Cork City Centre Forum and the Local Enterprise Office, Cork City, saw leading UK performance coach, Alf Dunbar, deliver his ‘You are The Difference’ training session to managers and staff from businesses ranging from independent shops, restaurants and cafes to department stores and hotels. It was held as follow on from the roll out earlier this year of the Cork City Customer Service Charter Training Programme, the first programme of its kind in Europe, which aims to make Cork a city of excellent customer service.

Originally from Aberdeen in Scotland, Alf Dunbar, created his hugely successful ‘You Are The Difference’ coaching programme after he brought his own business back from the brink of failure in the 1990s ago by adopting “a complete change in attitude” and new customer centric business techniques. His programme, based on the real world and real people, is now translated into 32 languages and is used by a wide range of retail, hospitality and business organisations in more than 40 countries.

Last night’s event saw Alf inspire and provide those attending with simple, effective tools and techniques to train their teams and deliver consistent excellent customer, making the most from every customer interaction.  The session also focused on the importance of a positive attitude and the key part this plays in a person’s day to day success. 

“One of my favourite quotes is, ‘Customer service is an attitude, not a department,’ and I hope that, at the very least, this simple concept resonated with attendees during the session. The customer is integral to every business and successful businesses keep the customer at the heart of everything they do,” said Alf.

The ‘You are The Difference’ training event is one of a series of initiatives being organised as part of the Cork City Customer Service Charter. The Charter which was developed in response to the ongoing global shift towards online retail purchasing, aims to help further position Cork City as a centre for superior customer service and assist Cork’s journey to becoming one of the friendliest, most liveable and sustainable cities globally.

“Online shopping will be in excess of €10bn next year in Ireland and we have to rise to that challenge. According to research, when asked why customers defect from purchasing with a particular business, 68% said it was due to the way they were treated, and this is something that can be easily addressed by changing what we do at work,” said Alf.

Commenting on the success of last night’s event, Joan Lucey (Cork City Centre Forum and Vibes and Scribes owner), who is a key advocate for best in class customer service in the city, said, “It was a pleasure to host Alf, who is a highly sought after speaker, here in Cork and see him share his tips and techniques with retailers and hospitality professionals from across the greater city area. The aim of the Charter and this event was to bring Cork businesses together to create a high level of customer service and a real sense of community and pride of place.”

Paul Mc Guirk, Head of Local Enterprise, Cork City said: “We were delighted to support this event, which follows on from two customer service programmes which we have run with the City Centre Forum over the last two years. Everyone attending the session with Alf got tangible takeaways to help make a real difference to the overall service and sales within their team.

“With the important Christmas period fast approaching this special training session was a fantastic motivational event for those working in the retail and hospitality sector and it was great to see so many Cork businesses and their staff in attendance.”