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Elevating the Shopping Experience

5 Apr 2024

CSIA talks to Thomas McIntyre, Retail and Customer Experience Manager at the multi-award winning Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.

Congratulations on your award – how important is industry recognition to the team and to morale as a whole?

It is such an honour for the team to win this, our fourth over the years. It solidifies our hard work and dedication to customer experience. The recognition for the teams working out in-centre is what means the most to me; our cleaners, security guards, maintenance teams, parking/valet attendants and the like, we all work so hard on ensuring the customer experience is world class.

What are the keys to providing a positive customer experience?

It’s about being genuine first and foremost, followed by a willingness to help. We are proactive and on the lookout for people who need our help. While we’d love every staff member to be an expert on everything in our centre, the reality is we can’t know it all. The key is to make sure we all know how to find the answer and guide our customers to the best solution.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your current role as Retail and Customer Experience Manager with The GPT Group?

Customer service needs to be a constant conversation. In a centre of our size, staff across various departments and retailers across nearly 400 stores, there are a lot of opportunities to enhance customer experience. The moment we stop the conversation and become complacent is when we lose a significant point of difference.

How does Pacific Fair set the standard, and stay ahead of competitors?

It’s about getting the absolute basics right, uncomplicated ‘Customer Service 101’. Non negotiables are to be clean, attentive and available. We then overlay this with more detailed programs and services such as valet and our in- centre taxi service. Without the basics in check, we can’t elevate the guest experience and deep dive to really enhance their day.

Generating record sales is an incredible accomplishment. What factors does Pacific Fair credit this success to?

It’s critical for us to focus on what we can control; the in-centre customer experience. We also have an absolutely beautiful asset but it needs to be well maintained, clean and have a great retail offering. Value-add services and exciting marketing events help further enhance the everyday. It truly takes a team to bring it all together – we all focus on the customer experience before anything else.

How important is ongoing training to ensure customer service facilitators and contractors are happy, highly-skilled and operating at their full capacity?

Training needs to be an absolute constant conversation and form part of a team’s culture as well. It’s all about balance; going to the same ‘Managing Aggressive Customers’ course six times a year gets boring, but constant conversations keep everything front of mind. We try to celebrate success when we hear great stories from our team members who go above and beyond. Contractor collaboration is absolutely critical. At the end of the day, it’s the team on the floor day-in day-out. Our contract partners make up the bulk of the workforce interacting with customers on a daily basis and can have the biggest influence. Without this collaboration we would never win the awards we have won.

What is the Respectful Customer Service training program, and how has it benefited centre operations?

This training helps the team navigate situations such as someone with a mobility issue, assistance animal, or other sensitivities around parents' rooms and the like. It also includes being conscious of different beliefs and cultural backgrounds. In a centre with thousands of customers visiting each day, you’d be amazed at the challenges our team can come across. Assetlink, our main service partner, put this training together and it has provided such a unique platform to better understand different customer types.

What is the ‘RX’ – Retailer Experience program and why was it developed?

The RX program is aimed at taking our retailers on the same 'CX' Customer Experience Journey we have traditionally focused on. The goal Is to further grow our NPS scores while creating a strong community of retailers who are customer advocates like our own team members. We have a significant program in place to focus on retailer wellbeing, training and recognition – something not many other centres really do. In essence, we’re creating a centre-wide community all focused on enhancing the customer experience. As a bonus, it makes for such a pleasant place to work!

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