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Capital & Regional shopping centres gives all front line staff COVID-19 training

Tom Shearsmith
22 October 2020

Capital & Regional, owners of shopping centres including Exchange Ilford and The Mall Luton, has become the first UK shopping centre business to train its entire front line team in new COVID-19 customer service modules from WorldHost.

309 staff, including the entire guest experience team across all of Capital & Regional’s seven UK shopping centres, have successfully completed the training, known as WorldHost 2020.

The scheme has been devised to empower staff with the knowledge and tools to keep guests and colleagues safe beyond COVID-19 and drive positive behaviours in a rapidly changing customer facing environment.

C&R’s relationship with WorldHost spans 4 years, with the company retaining WorldHost Recognition status since 2017, which recognises company-wide investment in customer service.

Sara Jennings, Director of Guest & Customer Experience, Capital & Regional, said: “Given the current climate, we recognise how quickly COVID-19 management protocols in our centres may need to change. We want to instil confidence within our communities that we are taking every possible step to keep guests safe.

"As a customer-facing business, a core part of this is ensuring our staff are trained to adapt to changes and maintain safe shopping and working environments.”

The WorldHost 2020 ‘Keeping Customers Safe’ training programme covers key elements of customer service and reassurance behaviours, such as greeting guests enthusiastically, and improving guest interaction via eye contact, while offering a sincere smile behind face coverings.

The training also covers important requirements such as respecting personal space and providing clear instructions to guests to reassure them of the safety measures in place across the centres.

Kate Thursfield, National Guest Experience Manager at Capital & Regional, says that the new responsibilities of shopping centre teams during COVID-19 go well beyond dealing with issues related to social distancing and cleaning protocols.

“There is a need to bring comfort and pleasure back to the shopping experience, which requires our teams to recognise behavioural changes amongst guests and have the training and knowledge to uphold excellent customer service standards, while adhering to new restrictions on human contact.

"The WorldHost 2020 programme has been instrumental in preparing our centre teams through training to handle behavioural changes and meet health, safety and hygiene requirements, while our Safe Place Champion initiative has provided an ambassador for ensuring the wellbeing of everyone within our centres.”

Safe Place Champion is a new role created by Capital & Regional in response to COVID-19, which includes staff training on issues specifically related to creating a safe environment including managing occupancy levels and hygiene protocols.

Thursfield added: “With the government’s three-tiered alert system now in place, boosting consumer awareness and confidence in our communities is more important than ever. The WorldHost accreditation and the work of our Safe Place Champions are at the heart of our approach to health and safety across all of our shopping centres, reassuring guests and staff that we are doing everything possible to create a safe environment.”

In addition to training and community engagement initiatives, Capital & Regional launched a new partnership with Sensormatic Solutions in June to adapt its ShopperTrak technology to not only monitor individual centre footfall occupancy levels in real time, but provide general managers with real-time notifications.

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