Chris Leary Surrey UNISON on their in-house call Centre

1. What is your name?

Chris Leary

 2. What branch and who do you work for?

I'm a member of the Surrey County branch of UNISON, and I work as an Employee Services Officer for Surrey County Council.

 3. What is your role in the branch?

Communications Officer, Convenor for the Change & Efficiency Directorate and the Chief Executive's Office, Shared Service Centre & Contact Centre Steward

4. Do you have a call centre?  

Yes, our Contact Centre is based in Conquest House in Kingston upon Thames.

 5. What services does the call centre provide for?

It is the first point of contact for the County Council. It handles queries for Libraries, Registration service, Roads and transport, Schools, childcare and adult education, Adult social care, Children's social care, recruitment, suppliers and payments for music lessons and the arts service. People can call one number and renew their library book, book a wedding ceremony, report pot holes, vulnerable children and adults to social services, find out about adult education courses in their area, and much more.

6. How long ago has the call centre been in place?

The call centre was established in 2003.

7. How is the new call centre performing?

Excellently. It has won numerous awards for customer service, and is seen as a benchmark throughout the entire public sector for customer service and contact. Just recently it was shortlisted for Best Customer Service in the European Call Centre Awards 2010, placing it alongside blue chip companies such as energy company Scottish Power, insurance firm LV=, telecommunications business Telefonica O2 UK and supermarket chain Tesco.

 8. Is your Council looking to privatise the service?

Not at the moment!

9. Have you got a message for Barnet UNISON customer Service members?

Your bosses might like to tell you that the public sector is bloated and inefficient, but Surrey has shown that to be absolute rubbish. With the right investment and support, public services can more than compete with the "big boys and girls" of the private sector. Keep tall, keep fighting, and show them why public is best!