Excellence in Customer Service 2014

The Excellence in Customer Service Award recognises excellence from any FM organisation and/or their teams.


Winner: Edge Hill University
Sector: Higher Education
Initiative: Welcome Sunday
Sponsored by: Premier Technical Services Group

Best practice learning points

> FM is led from the top – the campus and its supporting infrastructure is intrinsic to the overall student offer
> Single minded focus on the customer and empathy for their needs
> Clear understanding that FM makes a significant contribution to student recruitment and retention
> Mapping the customer journey makes it possible to measure the contribution made at every stage
> A comprehensive project plan balanced critical success factors and the customer experience
> Strong investment in people and embedding of values
> Strong involvement with and consideration of the needs of other departments and internal partners
> Looked outside to other sectors to introduce new innovations – luggage carts from festivals, shuttle services


It is the culmination of 6 months planning and its execution has landed Edge Hill with this year’s BIFM award for customer service making them a BIFM Award winner for the second year running.

Edge Hill have shown how FM plays a pivotal role in the success of the University and how the FM service provided is a critical element of the overall student proposition.

A professional in-house FM team of more than 300 permanent staff deliver customer support services via a series of integrated operational service teams.

> business support
> campus support
> catering services
> customer services
> housekeeping
> property services

Facilities management at Edge Hill operates within the context of an extremely competitive and financially challenging higher education sector where students pay tuition fees and funding is dependent on targets. As with all universities the fundamental measures of Edge Hill’s success are the recruitment and retention of students. Each September the University stages a ‘Welcome Sunday’ to welcome around 1,750 residential students into their halls of residence, complete their enrolment and settle them in for the year ahead. A further 3,500 friends and relatives normally attend the day and need to be happy about leaving their loved ones.

Planning and cross-team collaboration is the name of the game. In order to make sure that everything runs smoothly the FM team work to a large scale event plan from as early as April which includes a full programme schedule along with key deadlines. The planning process is kicked off with a discussion around the previous year’s event and any learning points.

The six FM service areas are all involved and volunteers from other non-FM departments are also pulled in. Everything is considered in advance including temporary signage, traffic flow arrangements and transport links. The team aren’t afraid to innovate and look outside of the FM industry for new ideas. For example carts, like the ones used at festivals, were provided for students to move their belongings around and a buggy shuttle service – golf style- helped to move people with mobility challenges around the large campus. The team learnt from last year that additional welcome points including welcome packs (which will be digital in 2015) were needed and a greater range of hospitality for families. The introduction of safe luggage stores scattered around the campus helped the day to go smoothly.

The event costs less than the equivalent of £15 per student delivering a strong return on investment. Minor issues which crop up during the day can be immediately sorted out by a rapid response team. They are on hand to resolve issues like access pass problems, light bulb replacements or plumbing issues which all helps to minimise stress at what is often an emotional time for students and their families. Getting the right staff to the right place in a responsive way is helped by staff all being equipped with radios and being coordinated from a radio control room. On top of that a roving trouble shooter is on hand for more complex problems and free bacon sandwiches for the early rises all add to making the day a success.

Edge Hill doesn’t differentiate between a ‘core’ business activity and the service provided by its FM team. What really sets their approach apart is the way that the university understands that the way the state is managed and maintained both culturally and in terms of quality and compliance is just part of the overall student offer. Whilst the FM team articulate their goals and visions in two documents – a strategic one called ‘The FM Vision 2015’ and a working document called – ‘The FM Way’ the success being enjoyed at Edge Hill is undoubtedly due to the way they live and breathe best practice FM in everything they do.

‘The board of governors recognise that the estates infrastructure is part of the Edge Hill experience and we’ve got the evidence that when people set foot on the campus they feel safe, secure and it feels like home. In too many organisations, FM is seen as the caretaker, not seen or heard but just to get things done, here it is part of a marketing package’ Bill Hancox, director of FM, Edge Hill University

The Judges said

FM and its people make a real difference to those who choose to study, work, live or just visit Edge Hill University. Edge Hill clearly demonstrated how they have delivered outstanding customer service at each point of the student journey. The impact is measurable and considerable and the judges were impressed with the mix of innovative approaches adopted, the collaboration involved and the structured planning against budget. The judges loved that FM is at the heart of University life and is accepted by students as one of the reasons why they chose and remain at the University.

Further learning

> Read the FM World case study
> Watch the winners video from the BIFM Awards