Southe Bedfordshire District Councilcase study: south bedfordshire district council – customer care


By March 2004, South Bedfordshire District Council (SBDC) had developed the first draft of their new, comprehensive Customer Care Policy. The opening statement of this Policy is:

”South Bedfordshire District Council’s ambition is to be a …council where the customer is at the heart of what we do.”

To ensure they could achieve this ambition, the Council recognised the need to put all 470 Council employees, plus the 50 Council Members, through an in-house, customised Customer Care training programme. They invited a number of external training organisations to tender for the design and delivery of an appropriate training programme, and in the spring of 2004 Training Focus were awarded this prestigious contract.

As Gail Brench, SBDC Human Resources Advisor, comments:

“We did not want an off-the-peg product; our aim was to deliver a punchy, interactive and challenging programme for our employees. The remit to the training provider was to give us an off-the-wall approach with lots of ideas, delivered with enthusiasm and drive, whilst demonstrating an understanding of the issues facing local authority employees. Training Focus demonstrated their ability to meet our criteria.”

Following a detailed training needs analysis, Training Focus designed a customised programme including case studies written specifically for SBDC. Much care and attention has been paid to ensure the transferability of knowledge and skills to the workplace of each council employee. This has included:

  • Customer Care Logs to record day-to-day interactions with customers, where employees have tried out new customer care knowledge and skills, noting the progress they have made
  • Establishment of Customer Care Champions to coordinate the on-going developments in customer care within the Council, offering employees a support mechanism and forum for discussing their progress and issues.

5 Step Integrated Customer Care Training ProgrammeTraining Focus also developed a number of training evaluation tools specifically for SBDC’s Customer Care training programme. This included Kirkpatrick level 2 evaluation tools (measuring development of knowledge, skills and attitudes):

  • Pre- and Post-training questionnaires
  • Post training 5-30 reports
  • Performance Development Reports

The 5-step integrated training programme was launched within the Council in October 2004, to be completed by the end of March 2005. In addition to supporting SBDC’s Customer Care vision, the training programme supports the Council’s highly valued Investors in People award and the progress they are making from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’ in the Government’s CPA measure.

Gail Brench comments

“Training Focus have been responsive to our needs, providing both day and evening delivery of the programme, responding to customer feedback and providing ongoing encouragement to employees. Their professional approach and willingness to embrace our culture is rewarded in the delegate feedback.

This programme has put customer care high on the agenda of employees and encourages them to take ownership for identifying opportunities to introduce changes to working practices that can be adopted throughout the authority. We aim to WOW our customers with excellent service.”

a punchy, interactive and
challenging programme

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