Elaine Barnes, Cromwell

Elaine Barnes

Elaine Barnes

Chief Customer Officer


United Kingdom

Elaine is the recipient of the judges' select Culture Award.

Industrial tools & services firm, Cromwell, hired Elaine as chief customer offcer in March 2019, giving her the task of  reigniting their reputation as a truly customer-focused organisation.

Cromwell had traditionally run each of its branches as standalone organisations, so Elaine knew that one key area for her would be to create a consistent, joined-up, customer-first culture. This started with building belief into the whole of Cromwell that they could make a difference - influencing internal perceptions of how the customer journey could be improved through sharing testimonials, customer feedback and case studies - and then helping everyone in the organisation connect their role to the external customer.

Since then, the team has rolled out a raft of initiatives including the launch of a fully auditable feedback mechanism; the creation of complete closed loop feedback by introducing a highly skilled customer resolution department; a steerco representing all parts of the business that meets bi-monthly and reviews all customer metrics, verbatim comments, closed loop processes, and projects to improve the experience; and an annual timetable of ‘lunch and learns’ for everyone from C-suite to operatives, to understand the role they play and the decisions they make that have an impact on the customer.

This has resulted in a significant cultural shift in the business, while stakeholder accountability has never been stronger with each department aware of the role they play in driving the customer experience.

Customer-led insight is now being used to consistently drive measurable improvements in customer 'pain points' that have been identified through journey mapping, and also improving ways that the company works, while Cromwell's decision to benchmark itself against its competitors to ensure it is the first-choice supplier for its customers has been a step change. Demonstrating the impact this has had, there have been huge improvements in NPS, CSAT, and customer effort score over 2018's figures. 

2021's biggest achievement, however, was the launch of a single destination purchasing website, offering seamless customer experience with a clear and easy way for customers to transact online - roviding guidance within the site, where they are offered a personalised, tailored experience that supports them across each stage of their journey. 

We can honestly say we have a ‘customer first’ culture, something that I and my team at Cromwell have worked hard to achieve: creating visibility, partnering with each and every area of the business to ensure that the voice of the customer is heard, we have clearly understood our customers’ needs and strengthened our approach. Every department can articulate how their work is connected to and impacts the customer.

Elaine was also the 2021 recipient of the Culture award by the judging panel:

“Elaine’s role at Cromwell from the outset has been about creating a consistent, joined-up, customer-first culture, whilst helping to build belief that everyone in the organisation can make a difference to CX.  Through a raft of initiatives including a laser-focus on customer and employee insight, Cromwell have become a case study in what’s required to build a customer-centric culture.”

- CX Leader of the Year judges

Return to CX Leader of the Year 2021 finalists>>>

CX Leader of the Year culture award