Unfolding plans 149 – Customer complaints

Day two of National Customer Service week and the festivities are well underway.  Today’s themes are Customer Complaints and MOT.  I think the MOT idea was one of our own where a small team of people descend upon a part of the wider organisation to help solve issues and identify learning opportunities.  I know it’s out of step but our next MOT day is going to be held tomorrow, this time in Regeneration and Economic Development.

As for complaints, we don’t get that many, at least not formal ones.  In the last quarter we only had two and they were related to the same issue, a failure of the public WiFi at one of our libraries.  Spotting trends with such small numbers is difficult and it is easy to dismiss concerns as one-offs.  I guess though that all the calls to the Service Desk could be considered as complaints.  Something is broken or I want something new.  We get plenty of these every day.

Today instead I got involved in a couple of things highly related to customers yet loosely related to the day’s themes.  In the morning we had the pilot of our New Ways of Working and Customer workshops. The plan is to roll this out across the whole service.

Francesca started off with a story telling ice breaker.  Within our tables one of us had to start a story and then the next person picked up the same theme and told their own.  I started off by talking about a forthcoming wedding which is a couple of years away while the next person told us how they organised a wedding in three weeks.  This led to a story about wedding photographs and ended up with the wrong trousers being delivered the day before the big event.  There is nothing more human than a story.

The workshop had two main events.  We got underway by asking ‘Who are our customers and what do they want from us?’  We came to the conclusion that customer needs are fairly universal.  People want to be listened to, understood and have their issue addressed.  This is the same for us in technology as in any other business.  We also felt that the concept of a customer is anyone we need to have a relationship rather than someone who pays us money.  This led us to think about suppliers and regional or national organisations as well.

I felt there was a parallel between what we do and what the wider Council does.  A lot of the value that we provide is unseen and taken for granted.

Trust was mentioned many times.

This was followed up by asking ‘What will the service look like in five years and how will we deliver it?’  Each of the three groups we were in came up with quite different answers.  One table focussed on technology, another on the need of the customers and the one I was on thought about the team.  We all agreed we need to focus on getting away from low value services, as the customer sees them and to focus on the higher value.

It was a good start.  We made a few suggestions about some ways to improve the workshops and then made our separate ways.

In the afternoon I had a session on our main Customer Telephone Contact Centre but I will leave this until tomorrow’s blog.

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