Ward Security has recently taken over the security provision at Slough Borough Council’s Customer Service Centre – and the changes have been instantly noticeable.
The Council opened the centre in 2005 as part of a £20million project to improve customer services by providing a high street location focused on providing all council services in one easily-accessible place.
“We are the first point of contact for Slough residents, and it is this front of house service that the Ward Security officers support,” says Tina Hancock, customer services operations manager.
“We needed to change our security supplier as we felt the service we were receiving wasn’t adequate for our needs. We had numerous requests for quotations from security operators, some of whom were very high profile, but Ward Security’s focused approach meant it secured the work.”
The company currently provides two security guards whose job it is to support the Council’s customer facing environment. “The officers work very closely with our Customer Service Team, providing security support for both staff and customers alike, in addition to signposting customers to the relevant points of contact. This works very well for us” explains Tina.
But, ultimately, she says, the officers are employed to support the safety of the Council’s customers. “We often have very vulnerable customers visiting our offices who are experiencing difficulties and need our help, at times this can lead to displays of emotion and agitation, having Ward’s Security officers on the floor helps support and calm these situations down.”
There are particular occasions when their skills may be called for, for example, the Council Tax Department runs a pre-court surgery once a month from the Customer Service Centre.
“We see a large increase in the number of customers visiting the centre to attend these pre-court surgery sessions, it is essential that we are able to respond to any situations that arise, it is down to the Wards Security officers to respond rapidly to these situations which can be challenging at times due to the increased volume.
Since Ward Security took over security provision, the changes have been instantly recognisable. Previously, for example, Tina’s says the security officers on site had very little support from their line management. However Wards have shown a commitment to training and are working with Guards to identify training and development needs.
Rachael Bannister, Ward Security’s operations manager, west, is committed to providing this support to the officers, and, says Tina, is doing this in a very subtle way. “The officers have gone from very little visible supervision to a fully supportive network supplied by Wards. Rachael is pivotal to this change” she explains. “The officers feel very confident that there is a network supporting them, rather than working in isolation as they were previously.”
Tina says she and the Council are extremely happy with not only the quality of the security provision but also the attention to quality of service that Ward Security is providing. “We are now having regular monthly meetings – this is something that didn’t happen with the previous supplier. It really helps to cement the relationship.
“We have a joint objective and that it is for the security officers to be fully developed to provide the best possible service here and in order to do that, they are going to need support. And while they use their own initiative, there is a structure and foundation that they didn’t have before.
“Ward Security is able to provide a foundation on which they can build on in terms of their own personal development. We believe this will see them go from doing a good job to doing an excellent job.”