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Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa

Hallo! Hoe gaan dit? Or in English instead of Afrikaans, Hello! How are you? I thought it was about time that we updated you a little on the Madasafish integration from a CSC perspective, there have been various EODs or posts that have mentioned it briefly but it really has been a major part of PlusNet life in recent months. As most of you are probably aware PlusNet has been undertaking a mammoth project recently integrating Madasafish (MAAF), into the PlusNet system called Workplace, following the acquisition by our parent company BT Retail in July 2007. For these providers’ customers not much is changing and they will still be supported by the same award-winning customer service teams. Now this has meant it has been even more hectic then normal at PlusNet Towers whilst this all gets put into place. All departments have been working extremely hard towards the goal and this is something that we are very proud of. To me this demonstrates the strengths of Workplace and our people, and explains why BT were so keen to keep them when acquiring us last year. Working with Workplace every single day means we can become a bit blase about such a powerful tool but this certainly brings home how lucky we are to be able to use this to support you all. Currently I am part of a very lucky team that is working in Durban, South Africa, with the Brightview customer support team to get their staff as much up to speed with the workings of Workplace ahead of their customers moving onto our platform. A bit like the player who scores the winning Cup Final goal we get the great experience and glory but we fully understand that behind us providing that vital support and making it all possible are 10 other players and backroom staff, or in our case every single department of our colleagues in Sheffield. From the CSC perspective this means that our teammates have supported us in coming over and have stepped up to work even harder to cover the staff shortfall and to make sure our PlusNet customers don't get a reduced support level. We currently have 9 members of the CSC out here to assist. This team is formed of 2 TSMs: Nick and James K, and analysts who have various skills and experiences such as Laura from our Provisioning team; Dave from the Retentions team; Brad, Mick and Chris from the Technical shift teams as well as Phil and myself from the Business team. So as you can see it’s a large investment for the company but it’s crucial that we can give the very best support and assistance to our new colleagues here. This week we have also been joined by Neil our CEO and Carol the CSC Director so they can see how things are going and have meetings with the staff which sometimes is so much more effective face to face compared to conference call. This is my second visit as it is with most of the others although Nick’s been several times now so his air miles are nicely stacking up for a Summer holiday somewhere hot. So what do we get up to on a daily basis? Well prior to the migration of accounts onto our platform we are currently working from 10am-7pm, as SA is 2 hours ahead of the UK, meaning we can be present for the majority of daytime calls and support requests . After the migration is complete though we will have 2 analysts working until 11pm SA time to make sure the evening work is covered by having people on shift to assist if required. We also make sure that at least one of us is in during the core hours on a weekend too. Lots of training has been carried out by the SA teams previously to get an understanding of Workplace and how it all links together and works. It really is a big change for them to move from one database to another, anyone who has ever changed a system at their work would appreciate how difficult it can be and it just isn't as simple as reading a manual. But credit to our colleagues in SA they have been very keen to take it all on-board and learn what is. No-one is running yet but neither is anybody crawling which is great to see after all I'm sure not even Paula Radcliffe would run a marathon without preparing for it. We have been signing new MAAF customers on the Workplace platform since mid-December and this is helping the teams getting more and more familiar with the system and how to interact with it. During the day we are currently acting as floorwalkers making sure anyone using Workplace is happy with using it. If any questions arise we can then deal with them there and then. We are also monitoring the MAAF ticket pools within Workplace to make sure that raised tickets are being handled in the correct manner and being addressed promptly. Under the previous systems the SA staff would have had to interact with at least 3 databases to help a customer but with the integration of Workplace everything will be controlled by the same system which makes support more efficient, and has the knock-on effect of quicker responses to customers. The TSMs whilst over here are acting as liaison points back to the UK and pushing back feedback on what’s happening and chasing up on raised issues. They are also meeting regularly with the management team over here getting feedback from them as well as helping with questions about the migration to make sure that we continue with clear open communication between all parties. Its amazing that we might be 6000 miles, and 24hrs of travel away from Sheffield in a totally different culture but the way the teams down here operate similarly to the Sheffield CSC: both teams aim to continue providing award winning customer service and value for money and the huge Plusnet poster on the wall makes it seem very much like home which is great to see. Its not all work though, we all need to unwind on an evening and at the weekend so there has been plenty of activity outside the office too. I’m sure you are all happy to read about the heat and sunshine – I wish you could check out the ‘tan’ Dave here got whilst watching the SA v Windies test! The warm breezes of the Indian Ocean keeping the beach bars full until the early hours and it would be rude not to sample the Springbok shooters. The food is pretty good too – the local delicacy is the Bunny Chow, which is basically a hollowed out bread loaf filled with curry. Doesn’t sound too sophisticated but trust me it tastes good if not great for the belly! Which leads us to the hammerings we get from the guys over here when we play football although it would be very different I think if they had to play in snow or mud like we do at home….. Some of the guys have also played a bit of golf too. The courses are sublime and beautiful but damn hard. Im sure Nick would be delighted that you know about his 16 lost balls. Only skill and persistence allowed him to get back to the 19th hole without running out. Durban is a fantastic city and we are very lucky to be here and experience the very different way of life here. goeie tot siens en lank lewe suid-afrika!

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Really fascinating read! Sounds exciting. Yours jealously, Liam :-)
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[...] you’ll already have a bit of an insight into how we’ve been running things, and what life has been like for the support staff out in South [...]