Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Award for Lifeline Freight and Passenger Ferry Service as It Awaits Decision on Renewal of Contract

Things Not Running So Well for Lone Other Bidder
Shipping News Feature
UK – There has still been no news of whether incumbent company Caledonian MacBrayne will retain the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services as the Scottish Parliament continues to mull over the competition bid from outsource specialists Serco. CalMac did itself no harm last month when it became the first ferry company to be awarded the Contact Centre Association’s (CCA) global accreditation for its customer services. Meanwhile news does come through that sole competitors Serco are not having the same sort of success at present.

CalMac staff were given the prestigious award after a rigorous application and assessment process which saw the customer services department being scrutinised and audited by the CCA’s teams over a period of several months. The CCA found the company easy to deal with, with early and late opening times, saw its continuous review of technology and communications and exceptional customer service across all available channels, coupled with ongoing staff development to ensure the lifeline ferry group stays always at the forefront of the industry. In awarding the accreditation to Caledonian MacBrayne, the CCA said:

“The centre makes a positive contribution to the aims and objectives of a highly customer-focused organisation, which has and continues to embrace change and continual improvement, typified by its development and excellent use of social media and major system changes which are under development. It was very clear that CalMac is managing and delivering a very customer focussed operation. It was encouraging to see that the desire for continual improvement was evident both for the centre and for the customer.”

Life for Serco is proving more difficult of late, having been slated recently by the MSP for the Highlands and Islands it has been reported that the group is to lose its contract with the Ministry of Defence for management of Defence Business Services (DBS), due to expire in April. Despite having an option to extend for a further year the MoD issued a statement saying:

“The MOD’s contract with Serco for Defence Business Services (DBS) ends in April 2016. DBS operations will be hosted within MoD as we consider our future requirements. This will allow us to fully consider options for the next phase of DBS whilst ensuring the needs of Defence, as outlined in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, are met.”

The move is extremely unusual in the world of government contracting but proved unsurprising to the RMT union which has been scathing in its criticisms of Serco in the past, with General Secretary Mick Cash saying:

"The fact that Serco are being dumped from their lucrative four year contract for MoD shared services when it expires this year is another bitter blow to these specialists in failure whose balance sheet is already shot to bits. It will add further serious questions about their financial stability.

"With Serco the only current private bidders for the C‎alMac run Clyde and Hebrides services it is time for the Scottish Parliament to wake up, take note and rule these basket-cases out as wholly unsuitable to operate life line ferry routes.

"The same arguments apply to the Caledonian Sleeper where Serco’s failures and penny pinching have provoked anger and industrial action. The Scottish Government should do what the MOD have done and pull that contract from Serco and bring the route in house. "

Photo: (Left to right) Lee-Ann Rourke (Customer Contact Team Leader), Kerry Marie Boyd (Customer Contact Advisor) and Sandra Crighton (General Manager Customer Operations) from CalMac, receive the CCA accreditation at an awards reception at Glasgow City Chambers