Case Study – Reinforcing a Reputation for Exceptional Customer Service

When NCFE, an awarding organisation “Where Service Matters”, realised that it was no longer leading the field delivering certificates to customers it had to respond.  They took a new look at their processes, reducing turnaround time from 15 days to just 1 day.

Focusing on Value
Transforming the certification process was the objective of a 2 day workshop facilitated by Chris Clayton from Grey Matters.  Bringing together a team who knew the detail they mapped the process and took a fresh look at what matters most to customers.  The workshop challenged people to think differently about their work and with the help of some background learning the team were able to identify improvement opportunities, eliminate waste and create a plan to implement the new solution in a matter of weeks.  The results were impressive:

  • Dramatically improved customer experience – Turnaround time reduced from 15 days to just 1 day
  • Ability to maintain consistent performance – even during peak periods
  • Staff engaged in the improvement process – making sure the new solution sticks

Commenting on the workshop Centre Support Manager Jill Gray said:  “I’m delighted – we now have a motivated team with new skills who understand the improvement process and can make it happen.”

From Improvement Projects to Continuous Improvement Culture
Marketing, Product Development, Quality Assurance, Customer Services and IT have now all led projects, each one producing dramatic results:

  • Developing a clear picture of what customers really value
  • Responding to customer requests more quickly
  • Eliminating errors and duplication
  • Improving employee engagement in the improvement process
  • Reducing costs (allowing resource to be reinvested in adding more value to customers)

NCFE Chief Executive David Grailey explains:  “The way we have been able to transform our turnaround time for certificates is just one example of the improvement culture we are developing here at NCFE.  We are making excellent progress in building great relationships with our customers and creating an environment that people love to work in. But we know we need to do more – the market place is changing and we need to respond.

With the support of Grey Matters we are embedding the learning across our organisation so we can find even more ways to add value for our customers and engage our people in becoming more efficient in what we do.”


Case Study – Central Department in Northwest Hospital Trust

The department of around 30 staff including clinicians, technicians and administrators sees up to 800 patients per week for between 10 minutes and 2 hours.  As such the team have a very short time make a connection with the patient and help them feel that they have been well looked after.

The hospital as a whole is working towards the Cabinet Office Customer Service Excellence Award.  This department wanted to focus its progress on improving the information provided to patients and making them feel more welcome and cared for in the short time available.

We ran a series of 2 hour sessions, covering all staff in mixed groups (clinicians, technicians and administrators) with the aim of helping them see the service from the customers’’ point of view and remind them of the importance of first impressions on the whole experience.  Time was also spent with the department manager, helping her to deal with reaction from the sessions and to support the longer term cultural change.

Below you will find initial feedback from the sessions, together with progress reports from the department manager – one week and six weeks after the training.

Initial Feedback

1.  What did you enjoy about the sessions?

  • The fact that it was relevant, and not just another teaching session that didn’t mean anything!
  • The session was run in an informal way and everybody was encouraged to participate which I enjoyed.

One week later

Some of the team has now got together as a bit of a 'task force' to canvass the whole team to come up with something that describes what we feel good customer service looks like in [our department].

Six weeks later

Even the cynics are still saying things like 'answer that phone, it's on 4 rings!' or 'I've moved that, it doesn't look good when patients walk in' etc, so I think the culture is slowly changing!

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