Case study: Hertfordshire Highways

Organisation-Wide Customer Service Review and Redesign

Customer service not up to scratch

The situation:

An external survey identified issues in the way customers’ enquiries were handled. In particular, customers needed to receive better service: be kept better informed on progress, and be more satisfied with the outcomes. The current methods involved complex interconnections between people, so this needed careful thought. I was asked to facilitate a cross-organisational team to find a solution.

Facilitate the team to improve customer service approaches

My work:

The team was challenged to develop potential solutions in just two days, and to produce a comprehensive solution in a further week. I supported the team to develop a set of design principles to underpin the proposed solutions, and to map the processes to clarify the considerable differences in approach across the organisation. To stimulate ideas I introduced reversal, a creativity technique that identifies how the extreme opposite to the desired outcome might be achieved. Having decided what needed to change, the team produced plans, and used barriers and aids analysis to uncover potential risks. The team recommended two solutions, one working within the current organisational structure and a more radical solution to cut through the organisational constraints and produce the most effective customer service.

Reshaped customer service evolving with the organisation

The outcome:

The organisation’s structure was highly politically sensitive, in the sense of both organisational and democratic politics. A wide range of stakeholders outside the team needed to be involved in the decision. The proposed changes involved amalgamating Area offices, and ultimately removing them altogether and moving to a single tier organisation. Two parallel streams of work were put in place to develop each of the solutions. The organisation has now been streamlined, enabling the team’s radical design to be implemented.

Stimulating ideas and not ducking the issues

The Goldsmith factor:

The value I added was to shock people into having new thoughts and ideas by introducing a wide range of techniques that they hadn’t encountered before. Using my expertise I was able to challenge the team to identify and expose the agendas and the organisational politics that were bending the current processes out of shape. I drew the team together to establish common cause around getting the right result.