Issue 6

TRANSFORMING CUSTOMER SERVICE DELIVERY ACROSS SCOTLAND'S PUBLIC SECTOR

By Michael Moran, Senior Organisational Development Advisor, Renfrewshire Council

When the groundbreaking Customer Service Professional Qualification was launched to two Councils in 2009 it became Scottish local government’s only online professional qualification certificated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Since then, thanks to the effective collaboration shown by all partners and delivery centres, it has grown significantly and is now delivered by 34 public sector organisations. This includes 26 Councils, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Renfrewshire Leisure and Lothian Pensions Fund amongst others.

It is supporting the transformation of customer service delivery across Scotland’s public sector and helping develop a more skilled workforce. Designed to improve skills, knowledge, confidence and performance in areas including customer awareness, handling difficult situations, communicating and influencing, it is helping to achieve more first-time resolutions of customer enquiries and increase customer satisfaction levels. These are values which have always been important in the public sector, but even more so, given the challenges currently being faced.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) HR spokesperson Billy Hendry said “There’s no doubt these are challenging times for public services. The Customer Service Professional qualification leads the way on meeting those challenges. It develops and empowers employees, brings greater knowledge and professionalism, and directly benefits our customers through a more effective and responsive service.”

An independent study found that an emphatic 92% of graduates would ‘recommend the qualification to a colleague’ and 93% of candidates ‘felt their knowledge and understanding of what influenced customer satisfaction had increased.’

To recognise the achievements of all those involved the qualification holds an annual award ceremony and our current Candidate of the Year, Lesley McLachlan, Finance Assistant, Angus Council, noted “I did have initial concerns about whether I could manage the coursework, but found the online delivery of the qualification meant I could comfortably fit this in around work and home routines. I was able to work on the Customer Service Professional coursework either here in the Learning Suite at Angus Council during the working day, or I would finish at home on my own PC in my own time, working around what I had to do with my kids. So it was very flexible and I enjoyed it.”

Scottish local government’s only online professional qualification certificated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Jim McPhee, Customer Service Adviser, Renfrewshire Council agrees. “The Customer Service Professional qualification offered me the chance to improve my customer service skills in a variety of ways including better active listening skills, recognising and reading body language, being more empathetic with the customer and putting myself in their situation. One of the most important factors I’ve gained is extra confidence, which makes me feel more comfortable when dealing with customers and increases the customer experience of friendliness and professionalism.”

Customer Service Professional remains, we believe, the only professional qualification of its kind for customer service staff working in Scotland’s public sector and is the SQA’s fastest growing customised award.

In a relatively short timeframe Customer Service Professional has established a strong reputation and track record, with credentials including:
•    1,500+ candidate registrations
•    600+ graduates
•    Winner of two prestigious national awards - COSLA Excellence Gold Award and the HR Network Strategic Project of the Year Award
•    Finalists in a number of other prestigious national award ceremonies

The qualification works on an ethos of continuous improvement and to ensure it’s future sustainability an investment and improvement programme is almost complete. This includes; updating the content, where necessary, to ensure it remains relevant and current, improvements to the qualification’s learning management system to provide a cleaner, fresher look and feel and improved interactivity and increasing accessibility to tablet devices and mobile telephones. The qualifications dedicated website, www.customerserviceprofessional.co.uk  has also undergone a complete refresh. These will be showcased at an Improvement Event, which is taking place at GHA Academy, Stockwell Street, Glasgow on 24 July 2013.
 
Customer Service Professional is available to staff members, from entry level to management, whose role involves dealing with the delivery of customer service to either internal or external customers. It is portable across local government and the wider public sector including the emergency services, health service, education and the third sector. Potential applicants include, but are not limited to, those working in contact / call centres, reception areas, housing offices, care homes, libraries and local government departments.

The Customer Service Professional Qualification helps public sector organisations to deliver:
•    Better quality customer service – through better qualified and more confident customer service professionals
•    Enhanced customer satisfaction – through greater customer awareness and understanding
•    Improved responsiveness – by delivering more first time services
•    Increased staff loyalty – through investment in staff development and formal recognition of the work they do
•    Greater efficiency – through fewer customer complaints and cost avoidance.

David Marshall, Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Renfrewshire Council noted “Customer Service Professional graduates feel more knowledgeable, more confident and more able to deliver excellent customer service. As a result we’re seeing an increase in satisfaction and a more positive response from customers”

93% of candidates ‘felt their knowledge and understanding of what influenced customer satisfaction had increased.’

The qualification’s method of online delivery allows access using PCs, laptops, tablet devices and mobile phones, providing flexibility for both the candidate and organisation – and significant cost advantages.

Indeed all three levels of Customer Service Professional – Award, Certificate and Professional Development Award – are delivered at approximately 1/6th of the average cost for a qualification of this type and level.

Candidates at Award and Certificate level may also be eligible for Individual Learning Account (ILA) support of up to £200 towards the cost of the qualification.



To find out how you can sign up please contact:

Central Administration Point – Renfrewshire Council
0141 618 7277
enquiries@customerserviceprofessional.co.uk

Or visit the qualification’s website: www.customerserviceprofessional.co.uk

By Michael Moran, Senior Organisational Development Advisor, Renfrewshire Council

Issue 6

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