Customer Service Valley
Monday, 20 April 2015
Vodafone, Q-Park, arvato, the municipality of Maastricht, and educational institutions Arcus, Leeuwenborgh, and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences have made agreements for the customer service profession. This collective is pooling its resources under the new name ‘Customer Service Valley’.
Currently, in Maastricht and the surrounding area there are some twenty companies specialising in customer service. Together these are good for 5,000 jobs, and by 2020, this number should grow to 6,000. The business community as well as local government organisations wish to work together more closely to strengthen the sector and increase its effectiveness. Particularly concerning implementing new ideas about training, image and quality. The municipality of Maastricht will invest EUR 300,000 in the next three years. This will be spent on helping people find jobs in the sector and on attracting new businesses to the region. Q-Park, Vodafone and arvato will also each contribute EUR 15,000 per annum.
Maastricht city councillor Aarts is pleased with the covenant: “With five thousand jobs, this sector is already very important to Maastricht's economy. But there's room for improvement. If the companies work together structurally for training and service quality, then this will strengthen the sector's image and that will attract new business.”
Fred Wilkes, Director of Business Development at Q-Park, is also enthusiastic about Customer Service Valley. “In our organisation, high-quality customer-focused services form the core of the company. We are convinced that this is a good step to forward our common interests.”
The focus of our partnership is primarily on training and education. Initially, we will concentrate on jointly organising retaining and refresher courses, but we will also be working on better positioning the customer contact sector in education. This should help people see that working in customer contact is a conscious career choice, and also reduce the number of mismatches.
Joyce Engelen, HR consultant at Q-Park Netherlands; "For the time being, the first class has fifteen students. They will embark on an eighteen-month senior secondary vocational training programme. The students will learn, for example, how to communicate with customers through social media, and they can extend their language skills with French or German. That will be partly during working hours and partly in the evenings via e-learning."
The Customer Service Academy is part Customer Service Valley, which was launched recently, however the latter initiative has a much broader mission than just training and education. Consider for instance, joint procurement and office premises, as well as career paths across the companies. The Academy training programmes are available at various levels, including secondary vocational education and a master programme which will address topics such as customer focus and customer experience is also currently under development. “The Academy is intended to raise quality levels. Customer service should become a profession. Just as for logistics, for instance, you should be able to do the same for customer service. It should be a pre on your CV”, says Engelen.