Over three years ago Epping Forest District Council`s five Leisure Centres – Epping Sports Centre, Loughton Leisure Centre, Ongar Leisure Centre, Waltham Abbey Pool and Waltham Abbey Sports Centre – pioneered the way in being awarded Charter Mark and have now been successful in re-applying for this prestigious award. The award, which is presented by the Cabinet Office, is given for striving to achieve excellence in customer service and is awarded to organisations providing services direct to the public.
The awarding of Charter Mark shows that the centres consistently provide a high-quality customer-focused service. To meet the standard, organisations must demonstrate that they listen to their customers, learn what aspects of their service are most important to them, deliver a service that is tailored to customers` needs and continuously improve.
Obtaining Charter Mark involves a rigorous assessment by an external assessor over a number of months, against a number of criteria and finishes with a two-day site visit to the centres where interviews were held with customers, club users, Councillors and staff. Projects that help earn the award include: GP Referrals; Cardiac Rehabilitation programme; Work with the Primary Care Trust; and Wo rk with the Waltham Abbey Young Persons Information Centre (WAYPIC).
The assessor, David White of Charter Mark Assessment Services, said the Leisure Centres deserved to retain the award and commented how well the items were presented and praised the reception that he received from everyone. He was particularly impressed with how the facilities are run, the interaction with other users and partners and the excellent working relationship between the centres. The assessor also made glowing remarks about how hard Deputy Manager Kath Halle had worked in putting the application together on behalf of the centres.
Councillor Chris Whitbread, Epping Forest District Council Portfolio Holder for Leisure said:”Obtaining a Charter Mark is not easy.It takes a lot of hard work and preparation by the whole team who strive, on a daily basis, to deliver a first-class, consistent service to their users.”
In his letter to successful organisations the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, states that this award is not easily achieved and is a tribute to the organisation. The achievement clearly demonstrates that customers` needs and aspirations genuinely form the basis for the design and delivery of the service provided.
This award now completes a trio of prestigious service awards alongside ISO 9001:2000 and Investor in People.
It is hoped that new provider for the Management of the leisure facilities will be able to retain the existing award as an indication of maintaining excellent standards.
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