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Issue:- 07/08 October 2009

Sir Richard Branson voted Britain’s best ambassador of customer service

“PEOPLE'S champion” Sir Richard Branson is Britain’s best ambassador of customer service, according to a poll of experts.  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took 2nd place, followed by Churchill the dog, in a survey by the Institute of Customer Service.

The survey participants are all customer service professionals taking part in the 9th annual National Customer Service Week running over 5 October to 11 October 2009.  Around 1,500 organisations have registered for the week and many more are taking part worldwide. Employers in public, private and third sectors see it as an opportunity to recognise the efforts of their customer-facing staff and thank them for their achievements.

Jo Causon, the Institute’s chief executive, says it is no coincidence that Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos topped the poll.  “They are both renowned for high service standards in their fields.. Sir Richard is often prepared to take the customer’s side, while Jeff Bezos broke the mould with Amazon, by developing the blueprint for effective, personalised, online customer service.  And our latest research of 25,000 consumers saw Churchill achieve a world class score for customer satisfaction, so perhaps Churchill the dog symbolises a company which puts good customer service at its heart.”

Jo Causon believes customer service is the vital differentiator in business today and says those who recognise the talents and contributions of all their staff will motivate their people, improve customer loyalty and boost profits.  “The key to success is to treat customer service as a culture, not a department. You must listen to your customers, deliver on your promises, invest in your staff and be prepared to evolve to meet the changing needs of your customers. 

Organisations will use National Customer Service Week to celebrate customer service as an important part of their DNA, which needs to be embraced by everyone to ensure consistent, world class service is delivered.”

Research shows around 90% of customers are likely to tell others about a bad customer experience, but satisfied customers also tell other people, therefore generating new business.

Companies signing up include Virgin Trains, Manchester United FC, Unilever, Metropolitan Police, PricewaterhouseCooper LLP, British Gas, Barclaycard, Toyota, Volkswagen, TalkTalk, the Environment Agency, Alliance and Leicester, Ladbrokes, Mothercare, Avon Cosmetics, Ticketmaster, Jobcentre plus, Carnival UK, Hallmark Cards, Legoland, National Grid, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Lovefilm.

Survey respondents revealed their top reasons why customer service is vital to bottom line profits – generating repeat business and attracting new customers. They also gave their top reasons for taking part in National Customer Week.

Here are the top 10:-

1) Improve communication from ideas provided by staff

2) Celebrate a serious message to everyone in our organisation that we all provide customer service.

3) Show customers that we really do take pride in the service we provide

4) Show that customer service is important and relevant to our overall business objectives

5) A morale booster for staff

6) Update customer service skills and find out what is new

7) A fun week and a reminder of why we do what we do all year

8) To remind colleagues that being polite and friendly isn't an extra thing they have to do - it should be part of their everyday business

9) Promote our business

10) Promote the excellent work that staff have undertaken

More information is available on National Customer Service Week at:-

North West sees biggest housing waiting list rise

SOCIAL housing waiting lists have grown over 50% in the North West in the last 5 years, the biggest rise in England, according to a new report from the National Housing Federation.

North West Home Truths 2009 shows that 1 in every 13 households in the North West is now on a social housing waiting list - 234,500 households. However in 2007/08 only 20,310 new homes were built across the region highlighting the massive gap between supply and demand.

The regional economy is suffering. In total 293,000 people were unemployed (May 2009 to June 2009) in the region, an increase of 34% in a year. With three of the five most deprived local authorities in the country the danger is that the recession will hit harder and last longer in the North West.

Housing associations are making a major contribution. They provide homes for nearly 400,000 families. That is more than 1 in 8 of all households in the region. In the 5 years to 2008 they invested over £25m to encourage employment and enterprise. They created almost 3,550 jobs and advised 340 start up businesses.

The new report reveals how the downturn has increased the need for more housing across the region:-

· House prices in the region remain 8 times higher than average incomes.

· House prices in the North West have risen nearly 4 times faster than incomes over the past 10 years.

· House prices in urban parts of the region cost around 8 times the average income, while in more rural areas the house price to income ratio is over 10.

Launching in the same week as the Conservative Party conference takes place in the region, the Federation are calling on all political parties to put housing at the top of their agenda. The conference takes place in Manchester, one of the most deprived major cities in the country under the Government's Index of Multiple Deprivation.


Average house price 2008

Average income 2008 Affordability ratio

Households on waiting lists 2008

North West £156,811 £19,313 8.1 234,559
Blackburn with Darwen


£17,940 6.4 9,194
Blackpool £123,774 £15,943 7.8 4,896
Halton £133,206 £17,945 7.4 1,720
Warrington £174,463 £21,289 8.2 11,563
Cheshire       18,800
Cumbria £173,856 £18,751 9.3 12,900
Greater Manchester £150,712 £19,432 7.8 104,048
Lancashire £153,069 £19,526




£18,834 7.7 48,426

Sallie Bridgen North West regional manager said:- "The North West has seen the largest rise in households on waiting lists in the past five years.   However far too few new homes social are being provided.

The solution is simple - we urgently need more social homes.  Housing associations are working tirelessly to improve our communities, investing heavily in new homes, regeneration and new jobs.  But the North West needs more resources to tackle deep and structural economic problems. 

At THE 2009 Conservative party conference in Manchester we encourage delegates to get out of the confines of the conference to see the great work housing associations are doing and the desperate need for more social homes! 

We welcome the recent efforts to inject more money into affordable housing. Social housing is a vital part of the solution to both the housing and economic crisis.  Even as public spending tightens, government must remember this.

They must ensure we build enough homes for social rent now, so that housing supply meets demand."

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