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Personal insight: A day in the life of Richard Cushnie

What better way to explore customer satisfaction than by having a chat with Richard Cushnie, Head of Customer Service Management.

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Ever wondered who was Head of Customer Service Management? Meet Richard.

Palace supporter, hatred of lateness and old school customer service expert. Find out more about our Head of Customer Service Management.

What was your job before joining BT Wholesale?

I’ve worked for BT for the last 31 years and have been fortunate to work within a number of different lines of business within the wider organisation, such as BT Retail, BT Global Services, and BT Wholesale to name a few. I’ve been working in the Wholesale arena for the last nine years.

What are your main roles and responsibilities?

My main focus is to ensure we offer the best repair/reinstatement service possible for all our customers, regardless of estate size or revenue gains. Likewise, I’m focused on ensuring that my suppliers are continuously looking at offering an improved and enhanced level of service support across all aspects of the customer repair journey.

What type of activities are you involved in during a typical working day?

Wow…where do I start?!

I try to allocate three days a week for meeting customers. This could be either at their site locations around the UK or facilitated within our Manchester or London offices. These meetings are focused around the current service experiences, addressing any areas of customer dissatisfaction and sharing with them what BT are implementing and improving across the repair arena.

I also chair a weekly service improvement call with our internal supporting teams, namely Openreach and Technology, Service and Operations (TSO), signposting areas of both underachievement and important areas of required development. We try to have a guest speaker from one of the service teams to join the meetings to offer a more detailed update with regards to either Openreach engineering, Second Stage Repair activities, Major Incident management and Planned Engineering Work (PEW) scheduling/performance. It’s essential that we’re all on the same page with regards to driving improvements in an array of customer service areas.

But that’s not all! I have a fantastic management team who keep me updated with what’s going on across the entire customer estate and will likewise engage with their individual customers accordingly.

There are also numerous daily internal and external service type calls to attend, all of which are focused on service improvement.

What aspects of the job do you most enjoy?

Meeting people has to be the most enjoyable part – you can’t beat engaging with someone face-to-face, especially when they’re looking for support and guidance. I’m old school and don’t like playing ‘email ping pong’.

What aspects particularly frustrate you?

Don’t tell me that “we can’t do it” as this is not acceptable.  We always need to be searching for new, alternative and innovative solutions to ensure we offer the best service to our customers.

And lateness also frustrates me. As I’m sure my team will acknowledge!!

And now…breathe.

What special challenges are you facing at work at the moment?

I’ve been leading from a customer experience perspective in the recent implementation of the 21C Ethernet Looping Tool. Change is in itself challenging, especially when we are making changes to the way in which our customers interact with us. It’s absolutely key that as we start a new services journey, our customers are engaged and equipped to embark on the improvements and service enhancements required and this is my main area of focus at the moment.

Can you think of a recent experience which has left our customers satisfied?

Over the last 12 months there have been a number of individual positive experiences. But from a wider customer perspective, we have made some monumental step changes in our Ethernet repair/service space. The speed of reinstatement has achieved a greater level of SLA (5hr reinstatement) but just as important, the Ethernet network has remained stable, supported by a 40% reduction in services re-reported due to historic ongoing network challenges.

What have you done to promote great customer service?

Engagement is paramount regardless of the guise of interaction. It’s important to take a step back and ask the question: “How would I like to be treated?”.

My team are customer facing people and have the ability to make positive change happen. We are working within a customer service environment and I’m absolutely passionate with regards to delivering an excellent level of customer service at all times. I abide by a simple ethos – treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself and challenge any areas of what is seemed to be poor or average customer service.

Why do you think people choose our company’s products and services?

When we’re looking for a service or a product we inevitably draw conclusions from things we hear from others, read on the web and experience first-hand. We end up asking, ‘why this company, why this product, why this service?’ The real question is a matter of trust and I absolutely believe that our customers trust what we do and how we do it.

What would you most like to change in relation to your work?

Honestly? Nothing…apart from reducing the amount of daily emails as this take up roughly 40% of my working day!

If you had a choice of any career at all, what would it be?

My passion outside of work is motorcycles, especially 80s two strokes and Italian four cylinder engines. So I would have loved to have had my own business offering sales and repairs. We just don’t have the small businesses anymore that can offer that personal touch to customers. As you might have guessed by now, customer service is very important to me.

Is there any talent you would like to possess?

My wife would say cooking and ironing but I would disagree…

Who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?

James Hunt and Barry Sheene - two of our best motor sporting stars. Yes…I know…but what a party it would be.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I dabble in running and jogging and as I live close to the Epsom Derby and associated green land, there’s plenty of places to get out and keep fit. I also like tinkering in my workshop/man cave and currently have a gearbox to rebuild from a Yamaha LC350 which is proving somewhat challenging. My family and a very excited 16 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier keep me on my toes so I have plenty of distractions outside of work.

What would you like to do or where would you like to go when you retire?

Somewhere warm please.

If you were granted one wish that could come true, what would it be?

Wow. What a question. There’s too many to list (and some would be too personal) and I can’t restrict it to one. So here are a few:

  • For my team, Crystal Palace, not to be languishing in the bottom three positions of the Premier League every season and if possible, buy a world class striker before the end of this season.

  • Being able to sit cross-legged on the floor when you reach ’50 something without having to ask to be helped up.

  • South East Trains to run without strikes and disruptions would be nice.

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