Stuart Jones: National Customer Service Week 2017

National Customer Service Week

This week is National Customer Service Week so I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what we’re currently working on at the CarillionAmey Customer Service Centre. I’ve set things out under the headings of the five main themes for the week, as set out by the Institute of Customer Service.

Voice of the customer

Listening to our customers is important when we’re trying to change and improve, as we are. We can spilt our customers into three main groups, our client, DIO, who we contract with, the end users who live and work on the estate we help maintain, and stakeholders such as the military Chain of Command. We do a lot to try and improve our understanding of each group’s wants and needs, which are constantly evolving. We are currently reaching out to our DIO colleagues using our ServExcel client feedback process, the feedback from this process forms an important part of our business planning. We also complement our business planning process with lots of data from end users, typically though the thousands of customer satisfaction surveys we complete each month following the completion of a task, but also from face to face feedback gathered at our customer forums. Regularly meeting with stakeholders and capturing their feedback is the final piece in our ‘insight’ puzzle, this helps build relationships at a local level and provides information to assist with planning at HQ.

Rising to the challenge

As a customer service centre we’re currently working towards ServiceMark accreditation. This has been a process we’ve been working on for over two years now, gathering feedback from our staff and customers, creating action plans and pushing things forward. Our most recent feedback is our best ever, from both our staff and our customers, meaning we are now ranking well on the UK Customer Service Index and we’re in a position to push forward for assessment. ServiceMark provides us with a really excellent framework for improving customer service, irrespective of whether we become accredited, the process really helps us to continually raise our game.

Getting the board on board

We’re really lucky in that we have a leadership team and Managing Director who genuinely care about delivering a service to our customers. Each month, our senior management team and board review feedback from our end users, clients and stakeholders, and against each group we have a measure and target which forms a central part of our overall business plan. We also have a process for customers to talk to our Directors on a one to one basis should they need to escalate an issue, and we have members of our senior management team who are active on social media, talking to customers and monitoring feedback.

Unlock your potential

A major part of our ServiceMark action plan is focused on our own staff. Technology is helping us to make transactions easier for customers and staff, but this also means that we are having to work hard to improve digital skills. Our Social Media Manager has been working with our technology partners at IMImobile and Hootsuite, along with staff at our customer service centre, to help connect our people and our customers through technology while improving service skills. We’re also in the process of reviewing our Career Pathway, which is our dedicated customer service professional development programme for aspiring customer service leaders within our customer service centre. The Career Pathway has already helped some of our best customer service professionals to unlock their potential, and we’re very excited to support the current cohort moving through the programme.

Recognition

Of course, recognising excellent service is important to us. We have a highly active, staff-driven recognition scheme and present monthly WOW awards at our customer service centre, which is a great way to celebrate. We are also just in the process of developing two new frameworks to help guide our behaviours, these will be our Guiding Principles and Professional Standards for customer service staff. The Guiding Principles are really all about how we behave towards our customers, complementing our values as an organisation but really focusing in on key customer service behaviours such as our approach to managing complaints or keeping our promises. The Professional Standards are more about how we act with each other, as customer service professionals, raising our standards in order to feel proud of the work we do and teams in which we operate.

National Customer Service Week is a great time to reflect on these points, but the above plans and aspirations go far beyond the week, forming our culture and aspirations for the coming year and beyond. We’re really proud to be members of the Institute of Customer Service, and wish everyone out there a Happy National Customer Service Week!

Stuart Jones – Customer Service Director