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A.F. Blakemore Appoints New Customer Experience Director

October 30, 2019

In September, A.F. Blakemore appointed Sarah Yates to the new position of Customer Experience Director for the group of companies.

Reporting to A.F. Blakemore Operations Managing Director Geoff Hallam, Sarah will hold responsibility for developing a new customer experience strategy for the business.

Her role will add strength to A.F. Blakemore’s existing teams, focusing on customer journeys and developing a customer experience strategy to enable the business to become more customer-centric.

We invited Sarah to tell us a bit more about herself: 

SarahTell us about your career and previous work experience.

After university I did a brief stint in the world of recruitment before moving to Jaguar Land Rover. It was a great company where I really learnt about the world of work. I had roles in process improvement as well as project, programme and change management and found a love of fast cars and met my husband Ian.

We moved to Florida with our dog Haribo and worked there for a couple of years before coming back to the UK.

I found a new role at Sainsbury’s, where I spent 12 happy years. I had many opportunities, grew my experience, found my passion for retail, learnt from and worked with brilliant people and made life-long friends.

I worked in a variety of roles including project and programme management, process design and improvement and buying and merchandising. I led large-scale cultural, process technology and digital transformation programmes, which included workforce management, tills systems (EPOS) and customer experience.

My last role was Head of Customer Experience, where I led a cultural change programme to drive improvements in customer experience and service across Sainsbury’s.

Why did you decide to join A.F. Blakemore?

Once I had met the senior team at Blakemore’s, I knew that this was a company who genuinely cared about its colleagues, customers, the community and the environment – doing the right thing.

I knew that this was a progressive family business that was doing exciting things to grow for the future and I wanted to be part of that. Driving customer experience and retail is my passion, so this was an exciting opportunity. 

What are your first impressions of the company?

From day one everyone has been kind, welcoming and generous with their time. There is a hugely collaborative culture and much excitement about the future from everyone I have met.

There is a realisation of how competitive the market is and our challenges, but there is a will and a clear strategy in place to get there. You feel part of the team quickly at Blakemore’s.

What does your new role encompass?

As Director of Customer Experience, my role is all about driving customer improvements across the group; it is about understanding and listening to our customers’ wants, needs and expectations and ensuring that this drives our strategy and roadmaps. 

We want to make our customers happy, add value to our partners and be easy to work with.

Do you have any initial plans or objectives in relation to your new role?

Director of Customer Experience is a new role at Blakemore’s and reinforces the value that is being placed on becoming a truly customer-centric business that does the right thing for customers and partners.

Over the next couple of months, I will work with teams across the group to deliver a strategy and a roadmap that will identify short, medium and long-term opportunities.

This will build on the foundations of what we do today in order to deliver improvements for our customers and engage, equip and empower our brilliant colleagues to deliver great customer experience and service.

Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work. 

There are two men in my life: my husband and rock Ian, and our puppy Labrador, Bentley Butterball Yates, who is spoilt rotten and makes me smile every time I see him.

I have four brothers and sisters, six nieces and nephews, a large extended family and lots of very good friends, whom I am very grateful for and love to spend time with. 

I love being outside and active and enjoy long walks with Bentley, sessions at the gym and being in the garden, a new-found passion.

I am very inquisitive and love to learn new things so I listen to a lot of audible books and recharge my batteries in the gym or on a holiday by the sea – or if I am lucky on a ski slope.

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