I don't know about you, but I was extremely grateful for the recent Bank Holiday weekend. It was beginning to feel like a very long time since I last had a day off so I was especially pleased that it also coincided with some genuinely pleasant weather.
On the Monday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon with friends, their young families and dogs, enjoying a picnic by the river. As with any good family outing, a certain amount of time was put aside to torment all non-adults. This was achieved by hurling cocktail sausages into the long grass and watching the dogs (ably assisted by the children) driving themselves into a frenzy trying to find these tiny porcine prizes.
Slowly, as I watched the whirlwind, I became aware of a certain stillness. One of the dogs, a small bundle of fluff-and-nothing called Barney, was not playing ball. Or indeed, sausage. Barney was instead spending his time staring at the Tupperware dish that contained the meaty morsels. I had Barney down as being the doziest of dogs, but as I watched him lie coolly in the shade next to the sausage repository waiting for his moment to strike I became aware that Barney had hit upon the same idea as we had when first developing Customer Engagement.
Before we had Customer Engagement my team had been whipped up into a frenzy every single time we needed some information. We would have to scrabble around in various directions hunting down facts and figures for even the simplest of queries.
This was made especially bad in the month of April when we had to produce an Annual Report, Impact Assessment and Key Performance Indicators for the year.
It then became necessary for us to also tackle different teams in order to try and build the bigger picture of what had been happening during the year, consequently driving them into a frenzy too!
Even when information was held on spreadsheets, there was rarely a uniformity to how information was recorded or way of maintaining its relevance. This meant that a vast amount of time consuming data cleansing was always necessary before it was even possible to get started.
Customer Engagement allowed us to operate for the first time a central repository of data that was true to our housing management system. The difference this made was huge. By having only one true data set that could be updated by all WCH teams, it allowed us to create accurate reports that could be pulled off quickly and easily meaning that the information required for reports such as the Annual Report, Impact Assessment and Key Performance Indicators could be pulled together in moments rather than days or even weeks. The fact that it was also fed from the housing management system also meant that it was always accurate. This cut down the team's administrative burden and freed up time that we could spend carrying out new engagement activities and expanding our offer to customers.
These days, I must admit we are still busy in the month of April, but we're busy doing the day job of engaging with customers rather than drowning in spreadsheets. Of course there's nothing wrong with scrabbling in the long grass if that's for you, but personally I prefer to laze in the shade with Barney knowing that we've got all our pigs in a row.