Helping officers to handle difficult customer interactions

In the potentially confrontational atmosphere that exists around planning issues, understanding how so called ‘soft’ interpersonal skills can make a bad situation better is not to be underestimated. It doesn’t matter how long you have been in planning, the chances are you will have been involved in some form of disagreement over planning issues at some point; whether with developers, their agents, the public or even elected members. Whilst the nature of the disagreement itself may be different, there will always be common factors that can be handled with a range of common skills and techniques.

With this in mind, Arun District Council recently commissioned TRA to deliver a two-day course for their officers entitled Managing Public Expectations and Dealing with Complainants.

The workshop was delivered by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman. It looked at a number of common expectations that LPAs come up against and showed how, by breaking them down, participants could gain a better understanding of the fundamental issues involved. The training focused on improving a range of skills to help participants deal with these difficult situations better and hopefully provide better outcomes.

Coverage included:

  • understanding your role as a service provider
  • where expectations come from
  • why people say what they do - what do they really mean?
  • listening and communication skills
  • dealing with conflict – the skills and qualities needed
  • the role of the public and pressure groups in the decision making process
  • understanding the role of the Councillor
  • handling criticism from third parties
  • how to achieve a positive outcome.

The feedback from course participants was very positive:

  • Chris provided some very good ‘food for thought’ to take away for future reference, thank you. Another excellent course delivered by TRA. Lisa Coney
  • The content was interesting and had a high level of relevance to the role I have. I believe that this training has allowed me to gain an understanding of the people who are on the other side of the screen/telephone. Finlay Gardner
  • Chris was brilliant. I particularly liked the fact he was willing to have lengthy discussions regarding any topic. Christopher Best
  • Would highly recommend this course to others.  I thoroughly enjoyed the content throughout, particularly given the engaging delivery style. Simon Davis
  • I was originally sceptical as I have been to numerous ‘customer care’ courses. However, Chris introduced a number of areas that I had not previously fully explored and introduced the course in a lively and engaging way.  My view is that ALL officers in the Dept/Council should attend this course.  Juan Baeza.

This two-day workshop can be delivered either on consecutive days or with a short break in-between.  If you would like more information on this training course, including a copy of an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes to receive a no-obligation quotation.