Archive for October, 2013

Tenovus logoAs a supporter of a number of charities, especially Tenovus and The Prince’s Trust Cymru whom I support as a volunteer, I really am concerned about the UK Government’s apparent determination to push through the legislation to limit lobbying in the UK.

Can all those affected continue the campaign to get the Government to stop the legislation as it stands going through and re-examine the whole issue.

As reported in today’s Western Mail a whole range of different charities have come together to oppose the bill. Let’s hope that common sense prevails and the UK Government halts this bill going through in its present form.

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Jane Hutt, Finance Minister

Jane Hutt, Finance Minister

Wonderful news in today’s Western Mail regarding the Welsh Governments announcement that a feasibility study had been commissioned to examine the possibility of a new £200 million state of the art cancer centre in Cardiff.

As a past trustee  and supporter of cancer charity, Tenovus for over twenty years, as well as a beneficiary of the excellent cancer treatment and care given by the consultants and nurses at UHW and Llandough hospitals, I can fully support the need for such a centre. I do hope that Velindre NHS Trust can expand its wonderful world renowned work within a centre envisioned by Finance Minister, Jane Hutt and her colleagues at Welsh Government.

A major Welsh initiative to be welcomed by all cancer patients, their family and friends, as well as the excellent health professionals, doctors and nurses who perform such an amazing job, often under huge pressure and within limited financial resources.

Breakfast ClubOur speaker this morning was Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for British Gas. Lynda has worked for British Gas for over 30 years, progressing from the “shop floor” to overseeing its award-winning contact centre in Cardiff.

British Gas is one of Wales’ “anchor companies”, with 1300 members of staff employed at the Cardiff contact centre alone. Lynda and her team have worked hard to transform British Gas within Wales, achieving phenomenal results in both customer satisfaction and employee engagement. With over 30,000 people employed in contact centres, Lynda is now looking for ways to share this best practice with other companies and nurture communication skills in those entering the world of work, to create a niche for South Wales as a hub of superb service skills.

Lynda began by dispelling some of the common perceptions around working in contact centres: that it is unskilled, unsociable and undesirable. Turning these perceptions around is just one way the Cardiff centre team set about to “break the mould” for contact centres.

Lynda and her team set bold ambitions when she became General Manager in 2008. At the time British Gas was top of the complaints league and losing 12 members of staff per week.  It became evident that a completely new approach was needed, with a particular phrase becoming a motto for the Cardiff centre: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over.”

Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for Wales, British Gas, explained how she has "broken the mould" for contact centres.

Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for Wales, British Gas, explained how she has “broken the mould” for contact centres.

The “transformational journey” began with Lynda listening to the team and asking them what they would change. This led to a move away from the heavy focus on targets, which put staff under pressure yet did not guarantee good service. Lynda also revamped the recruitment process, making it “all about attitude”. The company now “recruit the smile, train the skill”, making assessment of behaviours and attitudes part of the interview. This has successfully lowered the staff attrition rate from 32% (12 per week) to just 4%. The team structure has also been reorganised to offer career development, as well as secondment opportunities outside of the contact centre.

The most important change was in British Gas’ approach to customer service, using psycholinguistic techniques to help staff read into callers’ varying personalities. “Thinkers”, “Feelers”, “Entertainers” and “Controllers” all expect different things, and by picking up on these personality types staff can handle the call in the most appropriate way. For example, “Thinkers” are most concerned about processes, and need to be talked through these in logical steps. 

Lynda was adamant that by improving engagement and looking after the staff that work there, “everything else will improve”. The new approach is clearly working: employee engagement has jumped from 54 to 86 in just 3 years, and complaints have dropped drastically from 51 per 1000 to just 6 per 1000. “World class” service is around 4 per 1000. With 24 industry awards in the last 3 years, this is something the team is closing in onLynda is now developing what British Gas can do to share their expertise and nurture the future of the industry. They hold open days for smaller businesses to share information and skills which have been attended by over 2000 companies so far. Lynda also sees a larger role for British Gas to play: working more closely with the education sector to help develop the key communication skills and attitudes needed before people enter the industry, so that they are ready to excel within it.

The next Breakfast Club meeting will be held on 21st November, with guest speaker Graeme Leach, IOD Chief Economist. For further information, please contact eira@petersenspr.com or call 02920 549597.

We really have had some wonderful news in Cardiff recently.

From our premiership division footballers making a flying start to their season at the top flight to real progress on the adoption of the Cardiff Council’s local development plan for the next 15 years, it does appear that public and private sector are really trying to ensure that our City and Region can grow in this most competitive world marketplace.

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Jane Hutt, Finance Minister, announced a £62 million funding package earlier today.

However, today’s announcement by Jane Hutt, Finance Minister for the Welsh Government who states that £62 million would be allocated to the South Wales Metro scheme over the next 3 years is the icing on the cake. With the Westminster Government backing the electrification of the Western Main Line and the plans to reduce M4 congestion around Newport, I feel at last we are putting together the essential building blocks for the future growth of Cardiff and the Region.

Without excellent transport links both to and within the region no successful inward investment project leaders would consider the area. So with programmes aimed at increasing our skill levels, and a blueprint for the growth of Cardiff, plus an improved transport system together with our innate Welsh hwyl, perhaps we can justifiably look to a really bright future for our capital and citizens.

Lets make sure we all embrace the opportunity presented and not let it drift by!

1000524_10153022161355371_1214612707_nOur latest GO Wales work placement student, Susannah Hamilton, has just joined us for a 10 week internship. We invited her to write a blog to introduce herself…

After graduating in July with a BA English Literature from the University of Glamorgan, I was faced with the daunting thought that I would now have to enter the big wide world as a graduate jobseeker. I had broken free of my cocoon of full-time education and now had to prove myself in the working world. To cushion the change I spent three weeks travelling along the East coast of America, but when I returned I was ready and determined to conquer the job search.

The question I had been asked repeatedly since graduating was; what can you do with an English degree? But I already knew the answer to that, a career in PR! Back in January I had completed 10 days of work experience at a Cardiff PR agency and discovered I loved the industry, and that I could use many of my skills and experiences I had fine-tuned over the three years of my degree. My recent work experience in September at the Bristol offices of Grayling gave me the opportunity to further expand on my PR skills as I got the chance to write and sell-in my own press releases.

Now I am at the end of my first day of my 10 week placement at Petersens and so excited that they have given me this opportunity. The whole team have been so welcoming, with Rob bringing in delicious cupcakes for the morning meeting.  I can’t wait to see what I will get up to over the coming weeks and I’m looking forward to making my contribution to the team.

Well done to all those involved in last weekend’s successful Lloyds Bank Cardiff Half Marathon.  It was another wonderful Cardiff Halfexample of a well organised, safe, friendly, Cardiff sporting event, enjoyed by spectators, elite runners and 19,000 participants of all ages and nationalities.

Cardiff really can compete with any city around the world when it comes to organising events of this type.

I do hope that a lot of youngsters in Wales who fall into that category of being overweight might be inspired by all those happy faces of other young people who will never beat a world record but enjoyed being part of such a fun event; even if it takes them over 3 hours to complete the course.

Good luck Nigel Roberts and the Run 4 Wales team in your application to stage the IAAF World Half Marathon in 2016 in Cardiff!

Finally, my involvement was limited this year but I supported the event by looking after one of the organisers, Ben’s dog for two days so that he could assist with all the arrangements necessary to make the event such a success.