Customers want more than a result, they want to be treated properly
We don’t judge organisations just on the quality of the service they deliver, or even just the content of what they deliver.  We also judge them on HOW they deliver, and the ‘how’ is down to people

We have all had the experience of receiving indifferent service at one branch of a retailer, and excellent service at another. The person delivering the service will make the difference. The products, the prices and the policies would have been the same. The person made the difference. Worryingly 68% of our rating of organisations is about the behaviour of the person we dealt with last, so training in service delivery is key.

If you ask people to caption a picture with a speech bubble showing a GP receptionist, the word they write in the bubble is ‘NO!’.  Grossly unfair? An outdated stereotype? Absolutely, but it is an embedded image which the NHS will have to work hard to overcome.

 The impact on training
These views and customers’ expectations all mean that there needs to be renewed focus on training, since the impression the organisation creates is what will retain customers, win new customers through word of mouth and drive the organisations prosperity. The impression will only come from the people who deliver service at every level from directors to reception.

 Understanding the need – redefining learning
Too often, training is decreed from the top down. The iceberg of ignorance demonstrates how many day to day problems are seen at various levels in the organisation. It makes sense to start from the bottom up where the most of the problems and needs for training might be. Front line teams can easily diagnose the things that go wrong, and part of the process for defining training needs should be to engage with all levels of service delivery and help them draw up the list of needs… Not all of the problems may stem from training needs; often this process will highlight shortcomings in the system, which can eliminate the problem. That is in itself a learning process, which taps into the skills and experience of the team

An example

 We were once commissioned to deliver training to receptionists for a large animal welfare charity. The programme was called ‘Dealing with difficult clients’ . On engaging with receptionists, we very quickly found that their systems seemed to have been purposely designed to turn reasonable people into very difficult ones quite quickly, and were little to do with the receptions behaviour. However, the receptionists were able to define the problems and suggest holistic solutions, which the organisation adopted.

Time is money
Time set aside for training has a cost, so it makes sense for the training to maximise the impact of the training sessions.  Does your training provider maximise the impact of the training by up front work using workbooks or similar so participants can look at what they do currently and define for themselves what they would like to get out of the session?. Do they provide reference material and elearning to extend the learning experience? Given our time and budget pressures these would seem to be basic requirements now.

Top to bottom training
To make top quality service delivery work in a competitive market, the standards need to be consistent from the top to the bottom of the organisation.  First class service on the phone or the front desk cannot be destroyed by patchy or inconsistent performance from more senior managers.  Good clinical skills will not overcome a poor impression given by GP’s operating technical a different set of standards for themselves from staff. Leading by example works, and if front line staff have to raise their game, it does mean that everyone needs to do the same.

Management training
To survive in the future managers and administrators need to be as professional as their counterparts in any other field.  This may mean benchmarking experience with nationally recognised qualifications.

Providers need to tailor their programmes to offer attended, distance and self-study options to gain these qualifications.  Increasingly web based delivery needs to underpin this type of provision to fit in with managers timetables and work life balance

Strategic management training for senior managers
Senior managers too need to raise their management game, to ensure they work effectively with their middle managers. Too often we hear from middle managers that their efforts to operate professionally are frustrated by the idiosyncrasies of their seniors, who may be excellent technically, but do not recognise they need to be better informed and trained.

Some providers will offer programmes to look at the areas of strategic planning that are needed to address these needs by senior managers.

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