Tyne & Wear Museums

Eleanor Havery is the Training Officer for Tyne and Wear Museums (T&WM), and is responsible for the training operations spanning 11 museums and galleries in the region. She says, ‘The museums do a lot of outreach work in schools and the community, aiming to bring the public into the museums. Welcome Host is therefore very relevant with its focus on the customer.’

Eleanor particularly appreciates the flexibility of Welcome to Excellence and worked with the trainer at the start to tailor the Welcome Host course for the museums. For example, T&WM have a telephone script for answering the phone and this was put into the training.

She explains 'as you deliver the session over time, things do change and therefore ad hoc adjustments can be made to ensure the course continues to match our core values.’

There are approximately 340 full-time staff working across the museums and galleries, with the majority having been through a Welcome course, and Eleanor is aiming to make Welcome Host a compulsory part of staff training and new starter induction. The museums also have lots of volunteers – 150 to 200, who are all offered the opportunity to attend the course.

Courses are held on-site at three or four venues that have good training facilities. Eleanor says, ‘I think it’s important to always have a mix of staff levels from a cross-section of venues. We want everyone to take responsibility for good customer service across the organisation – from archaeologist to manager to reception. Some do come to a course and are not sure at the start why they are there. But by the end they realise that the course is relevant for them and that even if they’re not dealing face-to-face with visitors, they will use these skills when dealing with internal customers.

Evaluation has also shown that people appreciate having the chance to network and hear others’ views, plus people often come away from a Welcome to Excellence course with the confidence that they are already doing quite a good job. It may seem an odd thing to say, but it is another valuable aspect of going on a course.’

Eleanor adds, ‘Welcome to Excellence helps staff realise that we are all advocates for the museums and that customer service isn’t just about smiling nicely. They also appreciate that if we don’t provide a good service to customers, if we don’t continue to attract visitors then we won’t continue to receive funding, which is, of course, vital to keeping our jobs!’

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