The UCL Professional Services Conference took place yesterday (24 June) to celebrate the contribution staff make to UCL, showcasing the work we do, working across multiple departments and carrying out various roles. As part of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), Library Services makes a strong contribution to the work of professional services across UCL. Library Services was invited to participate in the conference and a number of colleagues attended the event.
A highlight of the conference was the ceremony for the UCL Ways of Working Awards. Over 200 nominations were submitted from across UCL central professional services, Vice-Provost Offices and Faculties. Library Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions were shortlisted for an award: ‘Ways of Working – Team Contribution to Achieving our Mission’. In this category, staff nominated colleagues who “are striving towards UCL’s future, demonstrating vision, a sense of ownership and innovation in their work”. The nomination was shortlisted in recognition of the team’s work on Customer Services Excellence workshops, as detailed below. In a very competitive field, the award ultimately went to Student Support and Wellbeing. Although there were 5 Library Services entries submitted, this was the only shortlisted nomination. Congratulations to the Library CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson!
CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson
This team demonstrated excellent collaboration, communication and shared learning in the way that they work together.
In line with the Library Services Strategy 2019-22 and CSE accreditation bid, the Champions initiated, researched, devised, and carried out customer service excellence workshops for fifteen teams, seventy staff, and resulting in sixty-two hours of training. This work was voluntary and included running workshops in evenings and Saturdays to make training inclusive.
About the Customer Service Excellence workshops
Breege, Noreen, Vicky and Gillian volunteered to become Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions to change the culture of Library Services, and to help work towards the CSE accreditation as outlined in the Library Services strategy. They created a series of workshops for frontline teams, working collaboratively to research and devise workshops which were initially rolled out to a number of day time teams. After these proved successful they evaluated and re-wrote the workshop to deliver to Evening/Weekend (E/W) frontline teams.
The team moved away from traditional training to engage staff, and so chose to devise practical, discussion based workshops, which included a team presentation on customer service. The workshops included discussions of CSE experiences, and feedback for the Library handbook and Service Charter.
This process has resulted in fifteen teams, seventy staff, and sixty hours of training. The workshops have been inclusive for E/W teams, making training available within their shift patterns. The feedback and enthusiasm has been excellent, and we have started to see a culture change in how we carry out CSE within Library Services. The CSE Champions have also collated a significant amount of feedback, data and evidence for Library Services to use in the CSE accreditation process.
Creating a supportive Customer Service environment
The work is linked to the Library strategy of achieving CSE accreditation. The CSE Champions have been committed to engaging staff with CSE, across multiple teams, sites and working patterns. The workshops have created a culture change within Library services, and also included transferable skills for staff, from presenting to collaborative project work. Teams have found the presentations enjoyable, as they have been encouraged to use their creativity.
The workshops have brought together the E/W team who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to work together, enabling them to work collaboratively and build relationships. It has also inspired other Library Staff to provide training for teams which don’t usually work in day time roles. The team have been supportive to other CSE Champions and colleagues, helping others to facilitate, so that those less confident can take part. This training has not only benefitted Library Services, by providing trained staff and evidence for the CSE accreditation, it has also benefitted library users.
Achieving our mission
As voluntary CSE Champions, Vicky, Gillian, Breege and Noreen are clear about why this work is important. The Library Strategy focuses on “ensuring an excellent customer experience”, and the department as a whole has set the goal of achieving CSE accreditation. On an individual level CSE is imperative for the library user. Our CSE affects how our customers use the library, and also the feedback we get through student surveys. This project was immensely ambitious as the work was carried out on top of usual roles, and outside of the team’s own working hours. It involved communication and liaison, to help staff engage with the process. Logistically it was ambitious as it took work organising cover so staff could attend sessions. Throughout the process the four CSE Champions have remained united in their own vision of what they wanted to achieve, and continue to work on CSE with other managers. The team also understand that gaining the accreditation means that they will need to carry on updating their training, to keep staff skills current, to train new staff, and to help with re-validation.
The innovative practice of devising workshops in CSE has enabled us to review our practices for frontline teams. The CSE Champions recognised that there was a need to re-evaluate and open up the discussion, and by rolling out this training they have started teams and individuals on this process of self-reflection, in relation to service provision. Our long term aim is to help achieve CSE accreditation, and to make sure that customer service is consistently excellent. These workshops have ‘kick-started’ this process through staff engagement, discussion and feedback. The workshops have also created evidence which Library Services can use for the accreditation process. While the goal is to achieve accreditation, the long term success will be measured by student feedback.
As Champions, the team took responsibility for delivering CSE engagement and culture change, within the accreditation time frame. They have worked towards this by having a clear remit and framework for the workshops. Communication between the four Champions has been essential, and running workshops in the evenings and weekends has helped to make team members feel included.
The effectiveness has been achieved through dedication, integrity, commitment, support, and by going above and beyond, to ensure all have equal access and a voice in how we shape our customer service.
Peter Dennison, Head of Customer Service, said:
“Well done to Gillian, Vicky, Breege and Noreen! This work illustrates our Library Services values and will make a difference in the Library’s work towards formally securing CSE accreditation.”
Find out more about the UCL Ways of Working: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/policies-advice/ways-working.