Continuing our series of CGS People Award winner profiles, this month, we recognise Alison King, who joins Andrea Barnard as joint winner of the CGS People Award, which celebrates positive behaviour from listening, supporting, and everyday acts of kindness.
Alison’s career in customer service started over 40 years ago at a London department store. She then completed a bilingual secretarial course, which led to a career in the travel industry, first lecturing in Travel and Tourism before moving into business development.
For the last six years, Alison has been the Registrar at The Worthgate School and describes her role as “rewarding, challenging and engaging” and adds, “no one day is ever the same.”
Her day-to-day activities include interviewing prospective students, assisting existing students with a range of enquiries and ensuring the school remains UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) compliant.
Alison is described as:
“The personification of a caring culture. Her famous warmth, patience and 5* welcome is legendary.”
Another colleague highlighted Alison’s commitment to the student experience:
“Alison is completely dedicated to Worthgate School, to ensuring students, staff agents, and families have the best possible experience.”
You won the CGS people award, which celebrates positive behaviour from listening, supporting, and everyday acts of kindness. What is the secret to your award win?
I am supported by an incredible team of professionals in the Student Communications team who all strive to ensure our students are treated with respect and empathy. It is a privilege and a pleasure to lead this team.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your position?
That the role is ‘just admin.’ It’s so much more – as well as excellent verbal and written communication, the Student Communications team needs to have a thorough understanding of UKVI compliance, be able to sell the school, negotiate, empathise, compromise…the list goes on!
If you could give a People Award to anyone in your life, who would it be and why?
Well, that would definitely have to be our late Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Having devoted much of her life to serving our country, the outpouring of grief following her passing demonstrated our respect, admiration, and love. One of a kind!
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
When I became a member of the school’s leadership team, I was fortunate enough to receive some professional coaching. Until then, I never realised how hung up I was that I didn’t have a degree, instead having completed vocational training and management qualifications while working. The coach taught me to feel proud of what I had been able to achieve. So, this year, I decided to resume French classes and gain a more up-to-date qualification, some 30 years after my last lesson.
You were described as offering 5* customer service. What do you think is important in providing exceptional customer care?
We have just launched our 5 Star Customer Service Charter, disseminated through staff induction and training sessions. Following an initial workshop with administration, boarding, and academic staff to consider the importance of customer service across the whole organisation, I have developed the Charter with huge amounts of help from our Learning and Development Lead, Louisa Horner.
The Charter demonstrates how we ensure the best experience for our students and community through 5 strands – Welcome, Enrich, Communicate, Resolve and Improve.
What advice would you give to any new student joining the Worthgate School?
I would point out that every member of staff is committed to ensuring they quickly become part of our family, whether that be teachers, houseparents, or our operations team. Also, I would encourage them to join various activities to meet new friends and regularly come into my office, where they will always receive a warm welcome!
What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?
I go and find a student to talk to – they always cheer me up!