The Importance Of Customer Service In A Major Recession – Stephen Hollings, Commercial Director, The Shield Group

Stephen Hollings, Commercial Director, The Shield Group
Stephen Hollings, Commercial Director, The Shield Group

The global recession has made it even more important to retain customers. To increase sales and maintain the interest of the customer in your brand, it is essential to have customer service skills intact ensuring that even if the product/service is not at its cheapest, the level of high service will ensure the customer continues to return to the service provider.

Many businesses also seem to be driven by cost reduction programmes, and this is having a major negative effect on employees which then affects the level of customer service provided. So by trying to reduce the costs in house, it is inadvertently further reducing sales, as customers are not encouraged to purchase the service or products because of the high costs and lack of customer service.

Engaging, training and developing staff is often put on hold and overlooked as many business owners tend to focus on how to increase sales, forgetting that efficient customer service is essential for increasing sales. They are at the centre of customer retention and, if neglected, can have a negative impact on sales. Without continued investment in customer driven programmes employee skills will fade and become inconsistent.

Office phones that are not answered due to a lack of staff and retailers with insufficient numbers of staff to talk to and assist shoppers, all erode customer satisfaction and completely eradicate customer retention. This can also be caused by off-hand staff, frustrated by shift changes and benefit cuts which then tend to take out their frustrations on the customers.

The internet has opened up huge choice for both businesses and customers, making it even harder to retain customers. But as customers do not have high expectations of customer service when shopping online since there is limited or in some cases no physical interaction, unless they call the hotlines. The huge deterrence there will be when, again, there is not enough staff to answer the phones to assist customers. However, businesses that have invested in optimum customer service and get it right, have survived and are flourishing.

Given all of this, the highest levels of customer service given to customers will always reflect positively in sales, even if the cost of service has been affected by the recession.

The Shield Group Website

Stephen Hollings has been appointed as Commercial Director of UK’s tenth largest security business providers, The Shield Group, formerly known as The Shield Guarding Company Ltd. The position comes after The Shield Group’s decision to transform the provision of security services away from a commoditised approach to a more innovative, streamlined and specialist security service, implemented under a total security solution business structure.

To oversee, drive and manage each service sector, and to ensure these are managed by fully trained security, technology and management professionals, working in tandem to safeguard customers, Stephen will lead on developing the end to end business strategy and management of the entire commercial development of the company’s four new business verticals which comprise:

  • The Shield Guarding Company: Manned Guarding, Event Management, Police Support Services, Mobile Patrols, Alarm Response, Keyholding, Concierge & Reception Services, Executive Protection
  • Shield Systems Limited: CCTV, Access Control Design & Installation
  • Shield Monitoring and Systems: CAT 2 NSI Gold standards monitoring of Customer premises including lone worker management
  • Shield Consults: Security Consultancy, Investigations Risk & Threat analysis, Corporate Screening

With over 25 years of vast experience, from holding two senior positions within the security firm Reliance Security Services, firstly as Sales, Marketing and National Director, leading the senior sales team to win several multi million pound accounts over a period of four years, and secondly as Managing Director of sub-brand Reliance Security Solutions, to influencing and encouraging all European markets to use centrally produced marketing communication material for the launch of Accord, Stephen Hollings has brought with him not only the spirit of innovation but a profound spirit of leadership to The Shield Group, and extensive sales and management experience with a record of delivering significant improvements within a company.

Speaking about his appointment, Stephen Hollings says: “This is a very exciting time for The Shield Group, a period of growth, investment and leadership within the total security market. As we come out of the recession more customers are seeking intelligent solutions to their security requirements. The Shield Group stands alone as an independent security provider focused on developing the best tailored solution for our customers.

CEO of The Shield Group, John Roddy, commented on this new appointment, saying: ‘as The Shield Group has broadened its service capabilities across the UK and implemented a Total Security Solutions provision, it was vital that we recruited an experienced senior industry Commercial Director, who had the experience to lead their team within this arena, and at the same time possessed a dynamic track record of securing major opportunities in various high value sectors. Stephen during the selection process stood out as a positive and focused manager demonstrating clear vision in respect of commercial and marketing planning, we welcome Stephen to the team and very much look forward to working with him.’

Stephen, an international business leader with a record of inspiring and leading dedicated teams, which complements strongly his entrepreneurial and communication skills is undoubtedly a strong contending asset to The Shield Group.