Headlines: February 22nd, 2001

At the first joint seminar of its kind, civil servants and executives from BT, J Sainsbury, Mars and the big banks have openly discussed ideas about best practice in customer service.The purpose was to compare and contrast best practice in customer focus in the public and private sectors and create an environment where the sectors can learn from each others’ approaches.

The seminar was run by the Cabinet Office’s Modernising Public Services Group and the Whitehall & Industry Group. ‘Building a Customer Focus Culture’ offered a first time opportunity to share experiences of handling the rising expectations of customers, the rapid change in customer service in both private and public sectors, and how to tailor services to meet differing individual needs.

The changes in the public sector are significant, and often, like NHS Direct, serve a very large potential and real audience, with a service unique to each customer. Thus there was much experience to share on both sides of the table.

The seminar was set up following discussions at the Agency and Non Departmental Public Bodies Chief Executives conference held in Newcastle last year, where delegates expressed interest in comparing and discussing different approaches to customer service with the private sector.

The Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG) was founded in 1984 to promote better understandingbetween industry and government. WIG encourages the exchange of people, ideas, information and best practice between member organisations across the public and private sectors. It has 120 companies, 35 government departments and agencies and 25 local councils as members.

Link: www.wig.co.uk