A year of work in progress – day 168

Day 168 – 6 October 2014

Happy Customer Service Week! It doesn’t seem five minutes since the last one. Each year the Institute of Customer Service holds a week of events to try and raise the focus on customer service. I think that similar weeks are held in other parts of the world as well. There are also activities going on across the council. Mary is trying to whip up some enthusiasm.

So why do we get involved when we work in the public sector? Well, two reasons, firstly to remind ourselves that without customers we don’t have a business and secondly, to show our customers that we know this and are thinking about them. Of course customer service should be an everyday thing but it’s easy in the day to day turmoil to forget that’s why we come in to work.

Today the Senior Leadership Team went back to the floor (though I don’t like this expression). Bob met one of the new school Heads, Lee tried his fortune at Durham Johnson, Neil worked with Fire and Rescue while Steve was out with one of the school engineers. Meanwhile, I spent my time at Spectrum with Mark’s team.

It took me a while to get in with the traffic, even though I came through the tunnel. It was raining and that always makes a difference. By the time I arrived Mark had a plan for me to spend the day at Seaham multi-user centre, upgrading desktops. Apparently there are seventy seven machines there and we’re going to try and swap them all out this week. Last time I tried this I managed five but then we had to take each of the users through the process. This time it was a straight swap out or at least it was supposed to be.

We swapped out fifteen, though there were seventeen that needed doing and had to spend some time taking the customers through the simple instructions showing them how to get back up and running again. They were simple if you had a degree in computer science and they need to be rewritten. How ever much we would just like to swap out and go, the customers (quite rightly) won’t let you go until they are happy. If we didn’t sort the issues out then they would just result in service desk calls anyway.

After lunch we had a tour of East Durham. Stuart took me to the Drug and Alcohol Action Centre (a strange combination of health, community and council operations), Hackworth Road depot, East Durham Homes (again), Peterlee Library and Howletch School. There is no substitute for going out where the customers are to see how the business really runs. I have so many questions I want to ask once I get back to base.

Learning points for today: An oblong is a weird shape but a square is normal; people keep the weirdest stuff on top of their PCs; we have some old kit out there and; we have some old ideas out there.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – good day out with Stuart and Mark except for the rain.

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