GA Training’s head office is in Barnet, Hertfordshire and our local customer service team has just scooped the title of customer service champion for London in the Institute of Customer Services annual awards.
Sharon Dyra has been a member of Barnet Council’s customer service team for the past 11 years and in her own words she was “gobsmacked” to win the award.

When asked what a typical day involved Sharon says there is no such thing as a typical day as she has to deal with all different types of customer service enquiry.  This attitude is refreshing because we think this is one of the reasons that a job in customer service can be so rewarding and challenging in a positive way.

In the past council customer service was often provided by specialists so you would have a planning specialist, a housing specialist etc etc.  In a cost cutting exercise over the last decade many councils have moved more towards a one-stop shop approach to customer service.  This may be a physical building or simply just a philosophy.
For the above reason those in the customer service teams at councils suddenly found themselves in a similar role to GPs in that they had to become generalists on all areas of the council’s service provision.  This was often a real challenge for customer service advisors both in terms of knowledge and mindset so it is very refreshing to hear Sharon describe her job as interesting due to the diverse nature of the enquiries she handles.

Like all customer service advisors Sharon described dealing with difficult customers as the hardest part of her job.

Sharon’s secret to good customer service is “to make sure that you listen to the customer and treat them with the utmost respect.  Having a bit of personality also helps.  In terms of humour you need to know when to use it but nine out of ten people will respond well if humour is used correctly.”
We couldn’t agree with Sharon more however we would of course add that a robust provision for customer service training needs to be in place because if it isn’t then people like Sharon will remain the exception.
Congratulations to Sharon on her award and hopefully the next time we have some kind of council related problem here at GA Training it will be her who deals with the situation.