Sunderland’s ICT Unit Pioneers New Customer Focus

When Steve Williams joined Sunderland City Council in 2003 as Corporate Head of ICT, he recognised that a change was needed, in particular in the way his department was viewed.

Rather than being seen as ‘fixers’, the team needed to be repositioned within the Council as providers of ICT solutions that would enable the Council Directorates to better serve their customers.  Time was of the essence and Steve knew that the unit needed to quickly develop a reputation for delivering value, if it was to remain the Council’s chosen ICT provider. Improving how the unit served its customers was going to be paramount for success.

A review of the unit’s approach to its customers followed. It concluded that, amongst others:

  • The unit was traditionally very reactive
  • He who shouts loudest got priority
  • It needed to learn how to understand its customers

The results of the review led to the creation of an ICT Customer Service Strategy for the unit. The unit’s personnel then worked with, client relationship management specialists, the PACE Partnership to:

  • Develop and implement Key Account Management processes, planning and skills
  • Gain a thorough understanding of their customers and their businesses
  • Deliver ‘excellence’ against this understanding
  • Develop and build trust amongst the unit’s customers

A number of tailored workshops followed, which focused on equipping the unit with Key Account Management planning, process and skills expertise. Whilst the programme is still at an early stage of its implementation, considerable progress has been made.

Sunderland City Council’s ICT unit has now put Key Account Management plans in place for its customers. It is also holding regular meetings at a senior level in the Council, which is building relationships with key people. People in the Council say that they are delighted with the new approach. It has led them to involve the unit at a much earlier stage in projects.  As a result the unit is providing better solutions and is seen as being more proactive.

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