A year of work in progress – day 169

Day 169 – 7 October 2014

Thankfully the mist had lifted as I made my way down from the station, across Milburngate Bridge and up towards the Gala Theatre. It’s an odd thing but the Gala has been the topic of so many conversations in my time at Durham yet I have never been there. Until today the foyer is as far as I had got. There are a few places that seem to occupy a disproportionate amount of our time and resource and the Gala is one of them. It’s a nice place.

I was there for an event put on by the Institute of Customer Service (it is day two of Customer Service Week). I was one of three presenters.

Before I get into that however, late yesterday afternoon the Council’s new web site went live. It looks good, clean and fresh. I would like to have said that everything had gone swimmingly and without a hitch and in the end I guess that this was true. We’re up and running with a few minor things to sort out, none of which are worrying but this comes after months of intense activity within both the ICT and Roger’s Policy and Communications teams. At times it felt like we were never going to get there. The expression ‘the darkest hour is just before dawn’ was invented with ICT in mind.

Back to the ICS event and I was up first and managed to use all the time allotted to me. My topic was Guerrilla Working.

Michelle followed me from Scottish Water, one of the founding members of ICS. She told us about Jock Wishart who made the impossible journey by rowing to the North Pole. His team achieved this by having a clear goal and the determination to get over all obstacles. Scottish Water has been on an impossible journey to reduce spending but increase customer satisfaction. In 2002 their turnover was £480 million with a 63% customer satisfaction. By 2014 spend was down by 40% with satisfaction up to 89%. For Wishart to achieve what he set out to do he had to build a completely new boat, light but strong. Scottish Water also had to build a new kind of vessel, a low cost one but with a strong customer focus.

After a break Greg gave us a presentation. He works for New Charter Housing Trust Group which is a registered social landlord. He talked about co-creation helping customers, partners and other stake holders to shape your products and services. Our customers want to be treated like human beings and expect the provider to have a degree of understanding of their problems and to try its best to help. But most organisations aren’t set up in a way that can deliver such an approach as they are very linear (or siloed) with very little lateral interaction. He told us that complaints were down from 30% to 1%, mainly through a continual customer focus and involvement. Senior buy-in also helps.

There are five principles to co-creation: inspired participation; being the very best; connecting creative minds; sharing the results and; keep on the journey. It turns out that Guerrilla Working is about co-creation.

After lunch I had a couple of one-to-ones with Bob and Neil.

Learning points for today: Roger will never get those eighteen months back; when you get to the field of ice you can lift your boat out of the water; worrying about things you can’t influence can make you ill; apparently I am a maverick (an unorthodox or independent-minded person but also an unbranded calf or yearling); we all eat our own co-creationist dog food and; today has already gone but tomorrow is just around the corner.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – inspiring morning and an afternoon of reality.

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