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Partner: Cork City Centre Forum & City Hall

Partner: Cork City Centre Forum & City Hall

01 April, 2019


Cork City Centre Forum is a collaboration between Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, Cork City Council, An Garda Síochána, and retail, hospitality and service sectors. This is an operational group of CORE which has developed some very practical projects such as Cork Cashes Out and the Purple Flag. Enterprise Ireland is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.

The Need

According to Retail Ireland about 50% of Irish consumers shop online and this figure is rising all the time. A recent retail study by PwC said that 38% of 25-34-year-olds shop online weekly and some estimates forecast sharper increases in online shopping in the year ahead. Joan Lucey of Vibes and Scribes has said that traditional and high street businesses can compete in terms of offering a standout shopping experience. Through this the need for the Customer Service Charter arose.

Introduction to the charter

The purpose of a charter is to outline and detail the standards a customer or client can expect when engaging with service providers in the City of Cork. In brief, a city service charter is a collective commitment by all of those engaged in the daily service life of the city to focus on the needs and preferences of their customers, motivated by values such as respect, integrity and excellence.

The many aims of the Customer Service Charter include:

  • Universal commitment to cooperation and involvement by all sectors of service providers in instilling and supporting a sense of pride of place and pride in excellence of service delivery which is not only satisfying to the consumer but exceeds expectations
  • Seeks to enhance the customer experience by being attentive to all aspects of city life, particularly streetscape, safety, and courtesy
  • Constantly monitoring and communicating through consultation and feedback
  • Ensuring staff are trained to be thoughtful, courteous, skilled and motivated
  • Reviewing the performance of staff and providing training in enhanced skills where shortcomings are identified
  • Ensuring that information, resources and services are readily available and accessible, providing clear channels of communication whereby the consumer may have a voice on issues of concern and matters that affect them, and providing explanations on decisions that are made and actions that are undertaken based on the feedback that is received from the consumer.

The Solution

CIT’s MBus students made a significant contribution to the development of the charter with the supervision and support of Dr Angela Wright and facilitated by Don Crowley, Head of the Department of Organisation and Professional Development. The students on this part-time programme worked for two years, in collaboration with the Cork City Forum and Cork City Council, to conduct research with city centre businesses and develop a training programme. They were also supported by an Enterprise Ireland innovation voucher. The charter includes guidelines on customer service, cleanliness and accessibility. A mystery shopper was sent out to monitor the progress of each participating business member. Fifteen city centre businesses took part in this pilot training programme.

Don Crowley & Dr Angela Wright with city centre traders and students.


Benefits of the collaboration

Cork has become the first city in Europe to launch a customer service charter for businesses. Due to its success, a second training programme was introduced this year. The programme includes a briefing for business owners/managers, a workshop for the trainers, customer service progress monitoring, a mystery shopper, feedback and a final briefing.

L-R: MBS student Kieran Stanton, Dr Angela Wright, Lord Mayor Cllr. Mick Finn, MBS student Niall Lynch, Don Crowley and MBS student Kieran Moynihan.


"This is where we in the bricks-and-mortar shops can compete and win. Customers now want a real connection and a very high-quality service, so we all need to look regularly at our offering. We may feel we are doing our best but we now have to compete with our customers shopping in the comfort of their homes and retail experts all agree that customer service is the key to a successful bricks-and-mortar business." - Joan Lucey, Vibes and Scribes & Cork City Forum.

"We were delighted with the opportunity to be part of this novel and exciting concept - the first of its kind for Ireland and only a starting point to show where customer service experiences can evolve to gain competitive and strategic advantages in the future. Working on live case studies is an integral part of our Masters programmes, and, when this opportunity presented itself to work and develop a brand new concept for the Cork City Traders, we were honoured to oblige. This work could not have been completed without the financial aid of Enterprise Ireland and the support of the Department of OPD. - Dr Angela Wright, CIT.

To download the Cork City Centre Charter visit:




           Click on case study to download






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