What does good customer service mean to you? Is it timely and attentive service, or a phone call with that personal touch? Perhaps it’s being able to access the information you need at a time that suits you.

 

This National Customer Service Week we spoke to three dedicated colleagues who work closely with our customers daily about what it means to them.

 

Liz Swain, Wholesale Service Desk Team Manager

Steven Westworth, Customer Service Team

Sam Cumming, Training & Procedures Specialist

“Our core values are trust, passion, creativity, agility and excellence. If we show these in our work it means we can give each customer the best service possible.”

How long have you been at South East Water?

Steven: I’ve been at South East Water for six years now. It’s the longest I’ve worked in one place and I think it’s because we have a great team spirit across the company. There’s also so much opportunity for personal development. The time has gone really quickly and things are constantly changing for the better which is always good.


Liz:
It’s been 13 years now. I joined the Billing team in 2008 not long after the migration of Mid Kent Water and South East Water. The team was relatively new at the time and the role was a change from my previous working experience within an accounts background.

The Billing Team expanded over the years taking on different elements and I moved to Customer Services with the Water Consumption Review Team in 2016. Later I moved over to the operational side of the business by joining the Customer Technical Centre (CTC) now known as the Wholesale Service Desk.


Sam:
I’ve worked for South East Water for two years and four months now. I joined the Customer Service Department and have worked with different teams including the Digital Team and Training.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your role?

Steven: I’m currently the manager of the Digital Team. My role is to make sure we deal with all digital enquires such as social media, web chat, My Account customer contacts and emails. In everything we do we aim for a 10/10 service to make sure we’re delivering the very best customer service possible. It’s a fast paced and challenging role but I really enjoy it as it’s never quiet and there’s always something for us to do.

I’ve always enjoyed anything digital so it was a dream to join the company as Social Media Lead and progress to become a Team Manager. My team are all really tech savvy and a hard working group but still find time to poke fun at me for eating all the biscuits!

Liz: Alongside the other Team Managers and Incident Coordinators, I manage a group of skilled agents experienced in operational and network issues. They work in three shifts from 6am to 10pm, seven days a week and all have excellent customer service skills. They also have the knowledge to advise on private and network water supply situations. The team are trained to triage work prioritising water quality enquiries, burst water mains and interruptions to customer’s supply.

An important element of my role is incident management and keeping our live map updated with information for our customers in relation to bursts and supply interruptions.

In addition to providing support and guidance to the team, my role as Team Manager is to ensure our field technicians and contractors also get the information they need to enable them to deliver the customer service we want everyone to receive.

 

Sam: I’m a Training and Procedures Specialist which means I train new starters and teach them about our expectations for good customer service. I provide up to date, on the job training to all our customer service colleagues and I work closely with multiple teams to ensure we have the most up to date information available.

 

What does good customer service mean to you?

Steven: Delivering and achieving a 10/10 service for all of our customers. This means listening, understanding the query and then reaching the best resolution for them. Our core values are trust, passion, creativity, agility and excellence. If we show these in our work it means we can give each customer the best service possible.

Liz: For any business I think a great reputation is really important. This can only be achieved by providing good customer service. This past year I’ve been working closely with our contractors Clancy so together we can improve the customer journey. Through carrying out our own surveys on completed work we’ve been able to establish what our customers think is good service. Not just by asking how they rate the service on a scale of 1-10, but what was good and not so good about their experience.

The overriding outcome has been communication. Our customers like to know the what, why, when and how. We’ve learned that good customer service starts by setting real expectations from the first call and keeping the customer informed of what will happen next. Finally making sure they are happy with the completed work and allowing us the opportunity to put things right if they have gone as well has expected.

 

Sam: To me good service is listening to the customer and showing empathy. This means putting yourself in their shoes and going above and beyond – even if this is asking simple questions such as ‘how are you doing today’. It brings me such joy to speak with customer and leave a little bit of myself in their day.

 

 

Can you think of a time where you’ve gone above and beyond for a customer?

Steven: I helped a customer on Social Media who was struggling financially and needed some advice with their bill. Looking through their account I found the appropriate tariff for them and told them about our excellent My Account service so in the future they can access their account and info online. The customer also had some visibility issues so I made them aware of ‘Recite Me’ on our website which enables customers to enlarge the screen as well as many other useful features.

 

Liz: I think there’s a balance between what we are regulated to do and what we should do because it feels right. We recently had a situation where a surge in pressure caused leaks on customer’s supplies. Under regulation we are not liable, and therefore not obligated to assist, but it didn’t feel right to leave our customers to deal with the situation alone when we have the ability to help. By calling on the assistance of another department we were able to arrange getting these leaks repaired and taking away some of the stress for the customers involved.

 

Sam: I once had a customer call that had no water at the property. I explained to them that we had an issue in the area and spoke to the customer about our live map so they could keep up to date with the issue. The customer was elderly and said they were afraid of using computers and didn’t own one. I assured them I would call them every hour until the water came back on as they had no family nearby to ask for help. I spoke to the customer three more times that day, every time asking how they were doing and checking if they were able to get a little bit of water to make a cup of tea. The customer was so thankful they even sent a lovely thank you message in the post.

 

 

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