Normally based at the head office in Sunderland, managing director Steve Walker took part in the job swap experience at the city’s depot, which saw him take up a role as a ‘shunter’, cleaning and refuelling buses during the night shift. The activities were aimed at highlighting the importance of continuing to deliver good customer service day in, day out for passengers.
After a day in the office running the operations across the north east, Steve undertook a four-hour shift to help clean the fleet of buses at the depot and fill them with fuel ready for the next morning. He said: “It was a new experience for me and I enjoyed ‘getting my hands dirty’ as a shunter with the rest of the team. The guys were great and it was a refreshing change from the office dealing with managing the regional operations. It is always useful to experience other bus-related activities as part of my job and understand the wider roles associated with running a depot.
He added: “We are always looking at how we can deliver even better services for people who travel with us, whether that’s before, during or after the journey. We've got a great team of frontline staff at Stagecoach North East. I'm very proud of the focus they give on providing customers with a good travel experience and getting them to their destination safely.”
Teesside operations manager Nathan Stanislawski and assistant operations manager Melanie Keylock, based at the company’s depot on Church Road in Stockton-on-Tees, took part in the job swap experience, which saw them taking up shifts as bus drivers during a busy morning and lunchtime service from Stockton to Hartlepool.
Nathan said: “I enjoyed getting back behind the wheel and interacting with our customers. The experience has helped raise awareness of our passengers’ needs as well as the difficulties that our employees face every day. I will be taking my experiences back to basics and make amendments where necessary to furthermore improve our service delivery. I enjoyed the experience so much that I intend to do more driving in the near future.”
Melanie Keylock, recently appointed as assistant operations manager at the Teesside depot, said: “It was really good to get back out on the road and it did bring back some memories! I love driving and I'd very much like to be able to do it more often. I'd never been to Hartlepool before so that was a new experience for me and nice to be able to enjoy the coast in the sunshine.”
Employees at Stagecoach North East in Hartlepool and Newcastle were also given the red carpet treatment as a thank you for all their hard work. The local bus operator helped staff to celebrate the national campaign with a ‘Red Carpet’ morning, where refreshments and food were handed out to the depot team to reward them for their efforts throughout the year.
To say thank you to customers, breakfast events were held in across South Shields, Sunderland, Newcastle, Hartlepool and Stockton, where staff handed out healthy snacks to commuters on their way to work. During the week, customers were also asked to nominate their ‘customer service stars’ for anyone in the Stagecoach North East team who has gone that extra mile.
Staff from the Sunderland depot also visited Grangetown Primary School to talk to classes about the benefits of bus travel, and the pupils also had the chance to issue their classmates tickets and role play in customer service scenarios.
National Customer Service Week is run by the Institute of Customer Service and aims to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays in successful business practice and the growth of the UK economy.