Since 1934, the not-for-profit company PPL, has been managing the licensing of recorded music for broadcast, online and public performance use, ensuring its 10,000 record company and 65,000 performer members are all paid fairly for their work and investment.

PPL’s Training and Quality Manager, Sarah Sheffield, explains how PPL’s commitment to customer experience has led the company to the finals of both the UK Customer Experience Awards and European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards in the 
New Product/Product Improvement and Best Online Customer Service categories respectively.

Implementing innovation

All the revenues that we collect, after the deduction of running costs, are distributed to our members and are based on the accuracy of the data that is held on our systems. In light of this, we recently undertook a project to improve the method by which our right holder members register their musical repertoire onto our systems online. At the onset, our objectives included:

  • Creating maximum value for recording rightholder and performer members
  • Providing a first class service to customers
  • Implementing first class processes and data
  • Providing leadership and strategic direction in the global management of music usage and licensing

We developed what we call ‘Reg Rep’ – a self-service tool for members which sits within our secure online membership portal myPPL – to provide members with a fast and accurate system for submitting the details of their sound recordings. This includes information on where the music has been recorded, who owns the rights and who has performed on it. We also wanted a system that would allow only complete data to be submitted into the database under the provision: the better the data quality, the more revenue we are able to distribute.

The new system would also need to enhance the overall customer experience and help to foster positive relationships, allowing members to amend any incorrect and/or missing data and the ability to access all their account information on one portal.

Member integration

Getting this system right for members – the people most affected by the change – was a priority, so we set about engaging them in the project from the start. We invited them to take an active role in designing the tool to ensure that our solution would fit with their requirements. Feedback was obtained at all stages of the project, and workshops and open days were effectively used to train, build trust and increase awareness of Reg Rep’s functionality to members. These open days have continued post launch, and occur on a monthly basis, again helping to promote positive relations between the company and our members and we have seen a lot of positive feedback as a result. A stand-alone communication strategy was also developed to communicate proactively our plans around this project.


The project met every one of our strategic objectives, allowing for the greater distribution of revenue, whilst enhancing the overall member/customer experience.

Christine Geissmar, Operations Director, said: “With Reg Rep, we listened to the needs of our members, and there are now ever greater numbers of them using this tool. It has vastly improved the registration experience, whilst increasing copyright protection.”

Since its implementation in 2012, top line results include:

  • Member Services distributed £146.6m in revenues in 2012, a 12% increase on 2011
  • The number of recordings added onto the database each week has increased by 72%
  • The number of invalid recordings has fallen year on year by 7% from March 2011 to March 2012

Top tips

Our results show that there is a real business case for bringing your customers to the heart of your objectives. If you can give them what they ask for, you will significantly uplift engagement levels and get the results that you want.

The Reg Rep project was, overall, a resounding success. Our ‘top tips’ to anyone embarking on a change project that directly impacts on the customer include:

  • Set measurable objectives that are regularly reviewed
  • Involve your customers where possible and keep them regularly updated of your intentions
  • Don’t get hung up on a delivery date – focus more on getting the quality of your product right for your customers
  • Make sure that your frontline staff are empowered – keep them up to date on what is happening, involving them in requirements gathering & testing, so that they fully endorse your project and give out the right messages to your audiences
  • Don’t try and do everything at once – make sure you break down any proposed, large scale project into manageable chunks – Reg Rep was just one piece of a multi-functional online service offering

Sheffield, Sarah - Training and Quality Manager
About the author
Sarah Sheffield is PPL’s Training and Quality Manager and is responsible for managing and implementing the systems, processes and tools needed to deliver a first class customer experience to the company’s members and licensees.

Sarah has over 20 years experience in the contact centre industry, working in the US, Canada and United Kingdom and is Certified Six Sigma Black Belt.


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