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1 October 2020

Customer service in a crisis

Christian Reynolds

Service Project Manager

Beginning a new job during a global pandemic isn’t the ideal situation, but it was the one facing Christian Reynolds, a Service Project Manager in the Clinisys Service Portfolio Team. “On my first day in the office, after a short induction, I was given a laptop, second screen and asked to head home because of lockdown restrictions.” While not quite the start he imagined, Christian had to hit the ground running as the real impact of COVID-19 became apparent. Here’s how he delivered exceptional customer service in a national crisis.

Christian is part of the CliniSys | MIPS team delivering critical services to healthcare organizations. The team provides after sales project support across the entire Clinisys customer base including but not exclusive to, interface solutions, Point of Care testing and connections to the National Pathology Exchange (NPEx) system for laboratory testing – all crucial elements in the NHS response to the pandemic.

So, what’s an average working day? “I work on fast-moving, aftersales projects that range from one to 20+ days in terms of effort,” Christian explains. “My role is to manage projects and deliver solutions that meet the customers’ need.”

During the initial phases of the COVID crisis, Christian found much of his work was in enabling the rapid expansion of testing capacity. Laboratories needed to add new analyzers to process tests and to integrate these with their Clinisys LIMS.

“It was challenging, but because COVID was a priority, everyone faced the same issues with resourcing,” says Christian. “Whoever I was working with – the supplier, customer, Trust, or Clinisys colleagues – we all pulled together to get the job done.”

Rapid response

In one incredible example of what’s possible, Christian and his colleagues were asked to upgrade a LabCentre system at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust to enable the processing and sharing of coronavirus test results in just four weeks – a project that would typically take at least four months.

“It was a tremendous effort to complete the project,” explains Christian. “Everything was accelerated. The kit was installed and configured, end-to-end testing was completed, and the project was successfully delivered.”

Writing to the Clinisys team Heiko Kausch, Head of IT Project Delivery at the Trust, was full of praise: “We acknowledge activities were relentless, and tensions were high; however, with persistence, motivation, commitment and perseverance, you managed to deliver the project successfully without any major issues, significant costs or delays.”

Christian is modest about the achievement, but the project is an incredible example of what’s achievable when organizations and individuals work together toward a shared goal. Heiko Kausch signed off his message with personal thanks. “I take this opportunity to personally thank Clinisys for the courage, contribution and extensive hours worked to see this project through for us.”

Prioritising in a pandemic

So, what makes excellent customer service? “It’s about being transparent with customers about what’s realistic and achievable, particularly when it comes to timescales,” says Christian. “We have daily calls where we discuss new projects and booking dates. If we have the resource available, we’ll slot the job in.”

Understandably, projects related to COVID-19 have taken priority at Clinisys, something that customers with other issues have understood and respected. “As a team and as project owners, we set expectations at the beginning of every project and stick to them. This builds trust and ensures that we’re able to deliver to the agreed dates, rather than promising something that’s unrealistic or unachievable.”

A successful project is about collaboration – often involving multiple individuals and organizations working together, says Christian. “When dealing with this entirely unexpected pandemic, I’ve seen a unified approach from Clinisys and our customers too. As a collective – between customer and supplier – we’ve worked incredibly well together.”

Great customer service is about creating a successful relationship, which is based on mutual respect. Dealing with the emerging crisis has helped to strengthen the relationships between partners and providers, which will continue in the post-COVID world, Christian believes. “There’s a positive attitude and a genuine desire to do the best we can for one another,” he says.

So, just how is he enjoying his new role? “Never in my career have I have ever experienced anything like this before,” Christian says with a smile. “I love it.”