Apart from being an all round nice guy with a 15 handicap I have been in Customer Service Delivery for over 30 years.

I can’t expect you readers of my page and Blogs to do so without some evidence that I have some background in Customer Service Delivery to make you feel more comfortable.

I have been in the business of service provision for over 30 years, firstly in the public sector and for the last eleven in the private sector. The rules are the same whichever sector you operate in though and the balance is often satisfying the needs of a customer base within defined financial boundaries.

Of course its never that simple and an example of the debate is one we had at Rosslyn Chapel whilst planning a new visitor centre. There isn’t going to be enough room for all the functions an excellent visitor centre should provide, so from day 1 it was a case of making the most of the space. The trick is to provide the level of interpretation looked for by Funding Partners, enough retail space to provide income and all the usual facilities expected by an increasingly sophisticated guest. Some voices around the “Executive” table though wondered if the visitor centre needed to keep the small Tea Shop area allocated – dangerous customer service thinking!

Tea Shop income may not be great but you’ve only to look at Dobbies who recognised that a tea shop is an integral part of a visit and immediately added a 400 seat tea shop when they refurbished their Dalkeith Garden Centre near Edinburgh.

My point is that I recognise the strategic need for a rounded experience, satisfying the needs of a customer looking for excellence in all aspects of their visit. At Rosslyn Chapel I looked for the experience to start “virtually” before the guest arrived by provision of information on the web site. I ensured signage to the site, parking and directional signage once on the site was accurate, obvious and helpful. I ensured that useful background information was available as a precursor to entering the Chapel and that staff were available to guide, help, direct and make the guest feel a part of the “family”. The visit included a chance to capture both the views of the visitor and their loyalty for post-visit income opportunities. Visitor survey analysis enabled tweaks to the service provision.

In my 11 years as Director I moved the visitor numbers from under 7000 a year to 170,000 a year, and in financial terms moved the Trust from being debt laden to having a 7 figure bank balance to help fund the changes due to start in 2008.

I made the conscious decision to promote Rosslyn Chapel as a “family” and the team worked well to provide the right atmosphere, and indeed welcome the guests as friends. When this works it looks easy and pays dividends. In fact when it works it looks so natural that the guests should not realise that training and hard work has gone into getting it just right. Staff need to spend time with the guest and I stole a Disney management idea (but that’s another Blog perhaps) to help with this.

I am passionate about Customer Service delivery. Any Customer Service manager who honestly feels they and their staff have it right are in denial. They may have it almost right all of the time, or all of it right occasionally, or none of it right most of the time – but never all of it right all of the time.

I can provide a fresh look, offering plaudits where deserved and suggestions where to improve weak areas.

Part of the development of this site will be to offer visitors the opportunity to record their experiences at visits. Lets get our acts together and get it right before some dissatisfied visitor places your name on my site.

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