When great customer service makes an impact

Katherine Beavis wearing a headset

Katherine Beavis

As told to Ebunola Adenipekun, Business Disability Forum

‘My name is Katherine, I’m in my 50s and I have been working from the age of 15. My long term condition is congenital right-sided semi-hemiparesis with spasticity, partial epilepsy and bilateral schizencephaly. Apparently, there are only an estimated 7,000 cases reported. Schizencephaly is the second rarest known brain malformation. According to a study in the UK, the probability of having Schizencephaly is 1.48 for every 100,000 births. But hey, I am no one special and just get on with it and try and enjoy life to the max.

I like travelling, listening to music such as soul, jazz, funk, fusion and rare groove – and a variety of other sounds too and love a good dance. I also love socialising and meeting new people and being with my family, as well as my pet cats Yin and Yang. Also I do like to solve a Sudoku puzzle! I always wanted to be an announcer or do voiceover work for characters in adverts and films etc.

What mostly impacts my day-to-day life is some people’s assumptions of me, e.g. some people assume I don’t have a life, don’t have a social life, assume I haven’t worked my entire life, never had relationships of any kind and don’t have certain capabilities, so I’m “disabled” according to them. What’s worse is some people thinking and saying what they “know” of me but never bothering to “really” get to know me. But that’s their issue, not mine.

The range of customer experience I get from day to day varies but one place that sticks out is my local Halifax Building Society branch in Fulham Broadway. Maria Gouveia, one of the Bank Consultants is so caring and devoted and that’s with also with the rest of the team. Maria gives you all the time you need, not just on financial matters but on your welfare/your wellbeing, on any other personal issues you may have and even will talk to you if you’re pet lover about pets too. She has been by my side from the start on how to finance and purchase my bike/mobility scooter –  Maria is a brilliant person, a real people’s person.

Going to my local family-run shop Best One & Post Office in Fulham, we always have a laugh and some banter, but they are also very kind and helpful e.g. one of the members changed my light bulb in my home because I couldn’t do it myself and fixed my curtain rail when it came down and he didn’t charge me to fix it back up and I know if I asked if I could pay on another day they would let me.

Great customer service to me is when you listen to your customers and you show that you care when someone is buying a product or service, but also great customer service when it goes wrong can also turn out or lead to a great outcome e.g. you brought a product and it wasn’t what you asked for as a customer – but then the customer service gets involved and pulls out all the stops for you in trying to solve the problem/s, constantly keeping you (the customer) in touch with progress and reassuring you (as the customer) they are on it. Most of all getting the product/s right for his/her customer leaving the customer totally satisfied by the end of the day.

Another place is my local Sainsbury’s (Fulham Wharf branch), most of their staff are friendly, helpful and so approachable and are willing to serve you.

I have chosen Halifax Building Society branch in Fulham Broadway as nominee for the Disabled People’s Choice Award because they are just very helpful and very supportive towards me in my day-to-day life, have been for many years and they always let me know that they will always be there for me and will serve and protect me in the best way they can.

The reason I think Disability-Smart Awards and Disabled People’s Choice Awards are important is because I believe individuals and companies/organisations deserve to get recognition for their hard work in giving the best service they can to the general public and it’s good for business.’

You can nominate for ‘Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience’ here

 

What winning the Senior Disability Champion award meant for Tony Cates, KPMG

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Tony Cates accepted the award for Senior Disability Champion remotely

By Sam Buckley, Business Disability Forum

We run our Disability-Smart Awards to show what organisations can achieve by becoming disability-smart—welcoming the biggest possible group of customers and employees and creating a welcoming, open and supportive place to work.

One of our most important awards is for Senior Disability Champion, recognising leaders who act as a powerful voice for disability inclusion in their organisations.

Last year, our award for Senior Disability Champion went to Tony Cates, UK Partner at KPMG.

Tony set out to change the way businesses work with disabled people across the UK and beyond, following a simple mission statement: “Empowering people with disabilities to be the best they can be is the right thing to do.”

Reflecting a year on from receiving his Award, Tony said:

“Since winning the BDF Award last year, KPMG have been involved in some exciting activities in relation to disability and mental health. I am the board level sponsor for disability and mental health at KPMG – and have been championing this agenda for a number of years. Something I have observed over this time is that there is still a real lack of visibility and representation of both disability and mental health at board level.

“Everyone has their own story or perspective on how disability and mental health issues are present in their lives. Personally, having hearing loss on one side has made me acutely aware not only of the challenges a disability or health issue may present, but also of the additional skills and capabilities that can be developed in response to these challenges.”

“We want KPMG to be a magnet for all talent. That means accessing the widest possible talent pool, which we will only achieve if we treat inclusion and diversity as a board level issue.

Tony’s work has included sponsoring support networks for disability and mental health and also sharing expertise with companies that KPMG works with across the UK. Colleagues have said that Tony “is known not just internally at KPMG, but he is an executive disability champion who is recognised elsewhere across multiple sectors.”

This leadership has seen KPMG gain one of the highest scores in Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard, an internationally used tool measuring organisation’s commitment to disabled people, in 2017.

KPMG gained a Silver status, the second highest certification under the assessment, with Tony Cates’ leadership cited as a key driver of the achievement.

Tony was also instrumental in KPMG gaining the highest-level of accreditation in the government’s Disability Confident scheme, becoming one of the first organisations to do this since Disability Confident was launched last year.

“I set up a Disability Steering Group that looks at disability and mental health holistically, with heads of all key parts of the business represented and reporting in to me. In fact the steering group was set up following our Silver award on the Disability Standard in July 2017, with the aim to make improvements across the firm. Business Disability Forum have helped us to set out our action plan. They also provide us with great support and consultation from our BDF Consultant, Brendan Roach. We also took part in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index, and were awarded Silver, something we are very proud of but keen to push forward and improve upon.”

Want to put your organisation forward for an award, or celebrate a champion of disability? You can enter our Disability-Smart Awards online now. You can find out more by clicking here.

Disability-Smart Awards: Why it matters.

By Ebunola Adenipekun

Business Disability Forum believes inclusive and accessible customer service should be standard practice and that every workplace should be a great place to work. The Disability-Smart Awards aims to showcase and celebrate the most innovative and inclusive practice among employers and service providers. 

Mark Lomas, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, HS2 (below), who was one of the judges from the Awards last year, and will be rejoining the judging panel this year, said: 

“Being a judge on the Disability-Smart Awards panel is a great way to learn. Some of the submissions were absolutely brilliant – and I can be really difficult to impress! I really enjoyed it! And one of the things is to understand some of the innovative work that goes on and the impact that it makes.

“It’s encouraging to see so many organisations try and get better at becoming disability-smart. It’s great to see the breadth, the innovation, creativity and impact for customers, employees – and the public in general. It shows the impact you make when you do something a bit different.

Mark Lomas

Mark Lomas

“What companies can learn from these submissions is the impact it makes on different levels: for individuals, teams and across organisations as a whole.

“Why is it important to be a disability-smart organisation? Who wouldn’t welcome more creativity? A different way of thinking? To innovate? Yet, no-one means to go into a boardroom and exclude 20% of the population that could do that, so the work that people are doing here helps inclusion happen.

“I hope you’re inspired to submit an award!” 

Entries for all categories are open until Thursday 20 September 2018, so there’s plenty of time to get a submission together for one of our seven award categories:

1. Senior disability champion of the year
2. Inclusive service provider of the year 
3. Positive cultural change of the year
4. Workplace adjustment innovation of the year
5. Influential business of the year
6. Technology initiative of the year

7. Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience’ 

Disabled People's Choice Award logo - purple and white

Disabled People’s Choice Award

We want to hear from you! Have you received great customer service? Don’t forget to tell us what organisation deserves an award in your opinion! Vote today!

Winners will be announced at the Disability-Smart Awards Ceremony in November 2018 (date and venue tbc).

Judges for all of these entries include leading experts in the area of disability, representatives from Business Disability Forum’s Member and Partner organisations and disabled opinion leaders.

Send us your entry today!

Disability-Smart Awards: The impact of winning an award

By Ebunola Adenipekun

Lloyds Banking Group – Last year’s winner of the “Nothing About Us Without Us” Award

Awards can make an impact, as one organisation shows here below:

Winners of last year’s customer-led ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ Award Lloyds Banking Group’s David Oldfield, Group Director, Commercial Banking, and Group Executive Sponsor for Disability (below) said:

Lloyds Banking Group David Oldfield, Group Director, Commercial Banking, and Group Executive Sponsor for Disability

David Oldfield, Group Director, Commercial Banking, and Group Executive Sponsor for Disability at Lloyds Banking Group

“One of our key achievements in 2017 is that we won the ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ Disability-Smart Award, recognising that we include disabled colleagues and customers in discussions and decisions which affect them.

“We won this award for the work we do through initiatives such as focus groups, the Assistive Technology User Group (ATUG), and the partnerships we have with various charities, including our Charity of the Year, Mental Health UK. These initiatives provide invaluable insights to help us make our organisation as inclusive and accessible as possible for disabled customers and colleagues.

“It’s terrific to be recognised by Business Disability Forum for displaying best practice.”

Business Disability Forum believes inclusive and accessible customer service should be standard practice and that every workplace should be a great place to work. We want to know where you have seen this done at its best.

Our new ‘Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience’ is an opportunity for us to recognise an organisation that really cares about its disabled customers, service users and employees of an organisation that has been selected by disabled people.

If you have great experience of a business, organisation or employee that has made a real difference in your life or the life of a disabled person you know, then please do get in touch.

Perhaps an employer or a shop or small business? From libraries and schools, to charities or health providers, let us know what company, small business or individual sole owner that you, a friend or family member really values and should know how much you appreciate them.

Entries for all categories are open until Thursday 20 September 2018, so there’s plenty of time to get a submission together for one of our seven award categories:

1. Senior disability champion of the year
2. Inclusive service provider of the year
3. Positive cultural change of the year
4. Workplace adjustment innovation of the year
5. Influential business of the year
6. Technology initiative of the year

7. Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience’ 

Winners will be announced at the Disability-Smart Awards Ceremony in November 2018 (date and venue tbc).

Judges for all of these entries include leading experts in the area of disability, representatives from Business Disability Forum’s Member and Partner organisations and disabled opinion leaders.

Send us your entry today!

Our film festival is nearly here!

By Ebunola Adenipekun

We’re looking forward to hosting our Partners, Members, guests and filmmaking superstars at Business Disability Forum’s Film Festival 2018, supported by Barclays.

We set out a 7 day film challenge earlier this year, themed around “going places”, in terms of travel, career progression and accessibility. The selected finalists of the challenge will show their films at the Film Festival at KPMG on Wednesday 20 June, 2018.

This event will showcase how the next generation of disabled talent perceive and overcome challenges at work, on holiday, and in other areas of life. The winner will be announced on the day.

We took some time out to speak to the finalists to find out what inspired them enter the festival:

Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies in a meeting

Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies

‘Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies’
Group name: Diversity vs Adversity
University: Manchester Metropolitan University
Course: BA (Hons) Film and TV Production

Bettina Tóth

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Tina Toth and I am the writer and director of ‘Kenny Rei and Spicy Ladies’. I am a second year student at The Manchester Film School and I’d like to work in Film and TV dramas once I finish my studies. I have a really artistic approach to filmmaking; I also do oil paintings and graphic design as well. I am 27 years old and although I live in Manchester, I am originally from Hungary. I am a fan of cinema, arts, literature and video games. When my studies allow it, I like to travel and broaden my knowledge with the culture of foreign countries.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I quite liked the idea of making a film in a relatively short time, and I wanted to try if we can manage to complete everything by the deadline. I was also hoping to get my work seen by the jury and make an impression. Another reason was that we were allowed to experiment with the topic and the way we’d like to express our thoughts about disability.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
Our film depicts life with ADHD and I personally know and have worked with young people who were diagnosed with hyperactivity. I wanted to show that even though they have difficulties with certain tasks, they are able to perform and even outperform their colleagues. I find people with ADHD incredibly creative, humorous, and inspiring. We wanted to film something that shows what’s going on inside their heads, something that is uplifting but thought-provoking, too, at the same time.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
The aim of our film was to show that disability shouldn’t be barrier having success in your workplace or moving up on the career ladder. I think it all depends on the attitude of employers and other employees to make a more comfortable and welcoming workplace for people with either mental or physical disability. We are studying to be filmmakers, and we were taught to be able to bring together all kinds of personalities and talents, and then make something great together. Every workplace should have the same mentality; appreciate the diversity of their employees, use it to their advantage, and then make something great in the end of the day.
Miguel Ramos

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Spanish born and raised, I moved to the UK in 2013. I worked full-time in a restaurant for more than 2 years, until I decided to stop and go back to education – to pursue my dream job! In 2015, I joined the Manchester Film School and now I’m about to graduate from university.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I am always looking for new exciting opportunities to develop my working skills. When I read the basis of the contest and saw that there was a Film Festival in London at the end of the road and so many Industry Professionals, I knew immediately I had to give it a go. Plus, the social theme was another big incentive. My mother has Polio and I’ve always been very sensitized with the difficulties she has to face in her daily routines.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
At the beginning, I wanted to talk about Autism. However, after doing some research we realised it was quite a sensitive matter which would require more pre-production in order to do things right. Tina, our talented Director, came up with the idea of following the daily life at work of a fictional character who has ADHD – giving it a fresh positive look, yet adding the uplifting message promoting diversity in our society.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
Since English is not my mother language, the biggest challenge I had to face happened in 2013 when I moved to the UK – getting used to a new culture and new ways to express my emotions was really hard at some point. However, with time, emotional intelligence and my determination to move forward, I achieved a good balance in my life – and I’ve even finished a university course thanks to the skills I acquired since I moved to England.

 

Mike in a mobility scooter

Mike

‘Mike’
Group name: Edgar Scukins
University: Manchester Metropolitan University
Course: Filmmaking

Edgar Scukins

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Edgar Scukins. I am from Latvia, but I live, study and work in Manchester.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
Yes, one of the main reasons was to share Mike’s story. I am helping him out with mobility scooter repairs. I have known him for over a year. And since the first day I met him, I thought that it would be useful to show people how many things one can achieve, even when diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
Mike inspires me every day. He is always smiling and I have never seen him sad.  When I am struggling with something and begin to complain, I feel slightly ashamed, because I remember Mike immediately.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
I think that the biggest challenge for Mike when he is going places is when something goes wrong with his mobility scooter and he needs to ask for help from people that are passing by. It has happened with him many times. I think that it is still a problem, but since technology is advancing fast, mobility scooters will be made more reliable.

 

Barrier in human form covered in black

Barrier

‘Barrier’
Group name: Wolf Pack
University: University of Wolverhampton
Course: Film & TV Production/Video and Film Production

William Horsefield

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I first began filmmaking at 12 years old making short films on my mobile phone. I found my passion in filmmaking and studied online about making Visual effects. I spent 6 years mastering VFX and gained lot of experience as I had made over 170 short films before I enrolled into Creative Media Production Extended Diploma Level 3 in York College. I submitted my short films to films festivals and won many awards. In 2014, I submitted a pitch idea to the film competition, Dream To Screen and my idea, ‘Welcome to the Deaf World’ was selecting by the actress Helen Mirren as well as film and TV industry experts. I am veteran of 48/72 hours film challenge as I won most of these competitions that I entered before I enrolled into the Video and Film Production from the University of Wolverhampton.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I love entering the many film competitions as I can but this competition is a bit different and It gave me a chance to make a short film about deaf or other disability awareness in workplace or business. I attended this competition on last year, I noticed that some people in the audience were business owners so I wanted to use my short film to show them that it was not that difficult to work with deaf people.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
My inspiration was coming from some images from google show the art of depression monsters who follow humans and some of deaf people’s experience in working inspired me as well.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
I think meeting with new people who have no deaf awareness is my biggest challenge because when my BSL interpreter is ill, arrives late or doesn’t show this can cause more awkwardness between me and new people. This make it difficult to work together or communicate so, I always pick writing as communication method to talk them but it is very slow and sometimes some people’s handwriting is hard for me to read.

Samuel Ash 

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am currently studying Film & TV Production at the University of Wolverhampton to become a director or a producer. I have a passion for filmmaking and photography, when I grew up enjoying watching films and taking photos, it merged into filmmaking. Adding to my geekiness, I also really enjoy sci-fiction films!

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
This festival gives an opportunity for us, students and with disabilities to be involved and encouraged us to create a film about our experience and how our film can be assisted to improve access and awareness of Deaf people. It is fun to be part of the relatable challenge with fellow filmmakers!

What was your inspiration behind the film?
The festival gave us the opportunity to create a film that relate our own experience and how we can show the solution to break the barriers deaf people face in their everyday lives. The film is about the barrier, and how it affects Deaf people to get employment. We wanted to create a positive attitude by adding humour.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
The barrier is always communication. It frustrates me when I am not able to communicate to collaborate with hearing peers smoothly which shutter my career process and opportunity to contribute.

I have to overcome this by pushing myself to approach a hearing person and communicate them through gesturing. If it failed, it is OK and I have to figure out another way to communicate them which can be writing down or any communication tool that it may work with this person. Confidence is vital.

I think of the quote: “Communication is the key to personal and career success” Paul J. Meyer.


We’d like to thank all the entrants for taking part and a special thanks to our finalists and our sponsors Barclays.

We look forward to sharing the films!

If you’d like to attend, you can find the details for the festival here.