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Customer experience elearning for Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer's logo

About M&S

Marks & Spencer's cafes are where shoppers go to relax and unwind. They expect only the very best service from one of the UK's most well-known brands.

Key project features

  • Elearning icon


  • Award-winning solution icon

    Award-winning solution

  • Cost-saving icon


The challenge

Raising quality through elearning

M&S gave us the challenge of raising the quality of service at M&S cafés through an elearning intervention. The project, driven by the business, had five objectives:

  • Improvement in mystery dining scores
  • Growth in sales in cafés
  • Reduction in volume of customer complaints
  • Deliver to 8,000 people as fast as possible
  • Control costs and deliver a significant return on investment.

What’s more, elearning was new to M&S retail, so it needed to be a great first experience for an audience more used to face-to-face training.


Make it on brand and authentic by seeing it for real

The solution had to be authentic. We made many trips to M&S cafés during the project to immerse ourselves in the environment. M&S were brave and smart enough not to just show us the best performing cafés. We talked about the challenges in the stores. This helped us create an authentic solution.

This flowed through in the tone of voice (friendly, informal, direct) making sure the scenarios would feel real to the learners, and was also apparent in the visual approach. Each moment is a branded experience.

An illustrated bird's-eye view of the M&S cafe with clickable areas

Focus on what matters – 80/20

We targeted the specific performance challenges by performance consulting. We examined:

  • What is causing performance to be under target? (E.g. the queue is too long because the most experienced people are not working the toughest roles at peak times, and because some cafes aren’t using the more efficient working format of the ‘triangle’ – where three key people focus on one core task only)
  • What are people doing or not doing that could correct these things? (Get the ‘aces in places’ – the most experienced people working the till and the espresso bar during peak time: work the triangle)
  • Which mistakes, if we focus on correcting them, will have the biggest impact on the results? (Showing managers how to do a roster that puts 'aces in places', while putting newer team members in less pressured roles at peak times)

This approach made sure the elearning was focused on what would really make a difference to performance.

Screens from the M&S cafe elearning

Make it real – opportunities to practice

You’ve got to get people stuck in, with any module. Working in an M&S café and providing great service is very hands-on. So the elearning couldn’t linger in the theoretical – it had to give people the chance to do something.

Throughout the elearning we applied best practice in learning design:

  • Create realistic situations
  • Give people opportunities to try things and make mistakes
  • Give coaching and feedback.
A man making coffee
An M&S employee smiling with a customer
A lady making tapenade
A M&S employee talking with two customers
Three M&S employees smiling together

The results

Success is in the numbers

The numbers, which were all measured by M&S, tell the story of this project’s success:

  • 8,000 learners reached within six months of launch – not possible using traditional methods within M&S
  • £500k savings over alternative methods in year 1
  • 95% positive learner feedback – and this was their first elearning
  • 22% improvement in mystery diner scores on customer service in the six months following roll out – when no other training intervention was in place
  • 6% improvement in like-for-like sales

Its success was further recognised with a Gold Award in the Elearning Awards.

"The M&S Café elearning project has been one of the most successful training initiatives I have ever seen launched in the catering industry. We saved over half a million pounds, we improved our skill base for our teams, we improved our customers' experience and as a result became more profitable – what an incredible story of success!"