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Customer Service Excellence 2019 – 2020

2018 - Dragons in University Square

International Medieval Congress


Co-operative working with other providers, partners and communities

The International Medieval Congress (IMC) is the world’s biggest annual conference in medieval studies.

Consistently growing year on year from 859 attendees at the first IMC in 1994, in 2013 the IMC outgrew its original home at the University of Leeds’s Bodington Hall and has since taken place on the University’s main campus. This move has enabled the IMC to grow into the largest and most prestigious conference held on campus.

In this its 25th anniversary, IMC 2018 welcomed a record breaking 2,900 registered attendees to an event which featured 760 sessions (54 parallel sessions at any one time) from 66 different countries, 2,100 papers, 66 exhibitors and two dragons!

The IMC is delivered jointly by members of staff employed through the University’s Institute for Medieval Studies and MEETinLEEDS, bringing together academic and event management expertise in a unique collaboration. Over 60 conference assistants are also recruited through Joblink at Leeds University Union (LUU), to assist in the delivery.

This collaborative approach extends throughout the University with excellent working partnerships with LUU, the Treasure of the Brotherton Gallery, University Residences, Faculties and Services as well as the 38 members of the International Programming Commitee. Beyond this, external partnerships are forged with Leeds City Council, city centre hotels, Leeds City Museums and Galleries, and York Archaeological Trust.

MEETinLEEDS manages the accommodation offer for the conference, sourcing suitable accommodation to meet a variety of budgets and requirements on campus (approx. 4,150 bed nights). An additional approx. 2,866 bed nights are outsourced to city centre providers, equating to £235K and an estimated additional income for the city of £458K.

As the IMC has grown it has developed the capability of the MEETinLEEDS team to deliver ever larger and more complex events. Over the past two years, MEETinLEEDS and the IMC have worked closely to streamline administrative procedures and, following a rigorous tender process, invested in a new software platform to continually develop and improve the customer experience for registration, payment and abstract management.

During the conference, CCSS staff work tirelessly to help customers, offering highly personalised services such as escorting delegates who need assistance to find services, dealing with undeclared dietary requirements and aiding those with mobility needs.

For example, the team enabled a customer with complex medical needs to attend the IMC and present a paper for the first time. Staff worked closely with the customer in advance to understand and accommodate the customer’s needs and then arranging parking, additional amplification, registrations for two carers and reserved seating near to a power socket to keep life-saving medical apparatus working.

Customer Testimonials

“The growing success of the IMC is testimony to the wonderful partnership between our academic and professional support staff teams. Dedicated to continuous improvement, the IMC goes from strength to strength, with each event better and more innovative than the last. This ensures exceptional levels of customer experience and service and raises the international profile and vibrancy of the University and the City of Leeds as a visitor destination.”

Professor Frank Finlay

Conference delegates outside building

Teach First


Summer Institute

TeachFirst holds a five-week residential training programme, called Summer Institute, to ensure participants will be equipped with the practical skills, knowledge and mind-sets needed to succeed in the classroom.

The final week of Summer Institute sees all the cohort come together in Leeds, hosted by the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University.

At the beginning of the week, participants attend a two-day Teacher Development Conference, delivered in partnership with MEETinLEEDS, Leeds Beckett University and the Leeds First Direct Arena. Now entering its fifth year, the market-leading CPD event attracts over 3,500 delegates with over 70 sessions designed specifically for teachers at the early stages of their career.

The event requires a collaboration between all CCSS Teams, individual Schools and Faculties, University residences, and LUU; and externally with partners, contractors, the City of Leeds, Leeds Train Station and Visit Leeds.

Great Food at Leeds delivers catering across the campus to hubs covering over 60 meeting rooms and laboratories and provides a hot lunch service to over 2,500 conference delegates.

MEETinLEEDS organises and delivers Celebration Events for the regions, as well as full cohort provision at key Welcome and Goodbye events in the Refectory and Parkinson Court. An exclusive dining and networking area is provided for Tutors and Teach First staff with a dedicated team delivering a first-class customer experience.

Several improvements have been made recently including:

– Introduction of a wellbeing area in LUU on the Welcome Weekend

– Use of the Precinct for the Welcome/ Wellbeing and Goodbye events

– Online booking system

– Improved fitness package and booking system at The Edge

– Collaboration to offer incentives to encourage participants to go into the City during their free time

– Stay Safe taxi service between Leeds City Centre and University residences.

CCSS works closely with TeachFirst and our partners to provide support to participants who may benefit from adaptable bedrooms, single sex accommodation, adapted teaching rooms, wheelchair access. All key staff involved in the delivery of the Summer Institute are fully briefed on all routes and services.

Customer Testimonial

“The accommodation was excellent in Leeds and I was very grateful for it and felt totally at home. This was hugely beneficial to helping me concentrate on work as I felt totally comfortable.”

Conference Awards 2018 - MEETinLEEDS and Communication Matters

Communication Matters


Delivery standards

The Communication Matters Conference is like no other conference that takes place at the University of Leeds. In fact, it is like no other conference that takes place anywhere in the UK.

Communication Matters (CM) is a UK national charity for people who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). AAC is the term used to describe methods of communication which support or replace spoken communication. AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing or alphabet spelling boards, as well as more complex techniques involving powerful computer technology.

MEETinLEEDS has hosted the CM Conference since 2013. It initially came to Leeds because of the significant benefits our campus offered and the great skills of our sales team. We are confident that it has stayed at Leeds because of our great service.

The Facilities Directorate leads on delivery with Great Food at Leeds, MEETinLEEDS and the Print & Copy Bureau acting as key partners and contracting to external suppliers, such as cleaning contractors, where necessary.

We understand the need to work with the CM Board and the event organisers to better understand the aims of the conference and the needs of its delegates. As a result, we have continued to develop, grow and flex our service over the last five years to ensure a great experience for all delegates. Our commitment to the users of AAC extends beyond just providing the right venue for their conference and focuses on how we can provide an even better and more accessible experience year on year. As such we coordinate with the Equality Unit on Accessible campus facilities, work closely with the residences to provide special beds for carers/delegates, and were early adopters of the new Communication Access symbol. Great Food at Leeds also flexed its food offer to meet the diverse needs of the delegates.

In planning our delivery, we consult with Estates Services and University Services (such as Equality Services, Leeds Student Union and Residential Services) and work alongside the CM team, not only as client and venue but as co-hosts, to ensure we offer so much more than just the venue to this amazing organisation and the attending delegates.

This fantastic and hugely successful conference has attracted amazing feedback, provided a springboard for the charity’s increasing success and sparking a strong client-customer partnership.

The University of Leeds was the pilot site for CM’s nationwide Communication Access Training in January 2017. Colleagues from across the CCSS services as well as the Facilities Directorate, notably Residential Services, attended the training, together with central University staff and our suppliers (e.g. cleaning contractors).

In 2018, Communication Matters nominated the MEETinLEEDS Event Manager, Anthony Lowe, for the annual miaList, which recognises outstanding people in the events industry. A real validation from our client for the hard work of the team and their commitment to delivering excellent and inclusive customer service.

For the period of 2017/2018 CM brought an additional 12 events to campus. We are also now planning, alongside CM, the launch of an AAC Awards night which will take place in October 2019.

In 2019 we will host the CM Conference for the 6th year and four CM board meetings. For us it is not just about the sales and the targets, supporting this event has bettered our service, and our people. It has continued to embed the need to understand best practice as it relates to the individual needs of our customers and these vary customer to customer and event to event. Our team is more agile, and more understanding because of the growth that has been enabled by working as co-deliverers with CM organisers and delegates year on year.

“We have held our conference at the University every year since 2013. Approximately 400 delegates attend and up to 50 of those have a large variety of disabilities.

Everyone has helped us 100% from the moment we contacted the University and have completely exceeded our expectations, even supporting us to find local businesses sympathetic to us. We are so happy here, we have moved our offices to Leeds and they helped us find those too!”

Toby Hewson

Co-Chair Communication Matters

Vegan mushroom cheese cups

University House revitalises our vegetarian offer


Deal effectively with problems

Customer feedback suggested that our vegetarian menu was suffering from menu fatigue.

Our Executive Chef responded by carrying out research on current market trends in this area and then bringing together the management team and the Front of House Manager to review our selection of vegetarian dishes.

A new and improved vegetarian menu was introduced to enhance our offering by giving customers using our facilities a greater choice of vegetarian dishes.

We are delighted that customers are voting in favour of this change as the number of customers choosing the vegetarian selection has increased.