Outstanding Customer Satisfaction SECBE Award 2021 Winner

Ropemakers’ Academy, Hailsham

Scoring a customer satisfaction mark of 9.39, the Ropemakers’ Academy is a demonstration of how a project can have a major positive impact on everyone involved, including; Willmott Dixon, East Sussex Council (ESC), BeckMead Trust, every wider consultant and stakeholder, but first and foremost - the staff and children using the building.

The scheme’s intention was to create a £12.5m, 80-place social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) facility for children in East Sussex. Or, in the words of ESC Project Manager, Anne Atkins, to “provide much-needed purpose-built accommodation for a group of our most vulnerable young people living in East Sussex”.

Budget, time and land restraints were key factors, presenting the team with a challenging backdrop before construction began. This is why Willmott Dixon put customer engagement at the heart of their delivery to ensure success.

They implemented a clear, multi-pronged communication strategy, tying together face-to-face, written and visual comms to engage stakeholders. This included opening the site up to teachers and prospective students and their parents to utilise their knowledge and experience and really bring them along on the journey.

Ropemakers’ Head Teacher, Simon Hawthorne, says, “I could give multiple examples of their site management – the way they carefully managed parent and pupil visits to site, how they helped me on the finest details and how they might impact our students, their communication and sharing of information, I could go on.”

Customer satisfaction was tracked at critical project points and followed up with actionable items, ensuring the team not only met client expectation but regularly went the extra mile.

It is because of this meticulous approach and customer dedication that this new state-of-art facility was delivered on budget and handed over four weeks ahead of schedule, despite additional challenges posed by a UK Power Network power delay and, of course, Covid-19.

The praise received by the council, school and parents included that from ESC’s Ms Atkins who says, “The team from Willmott Dixon have been a joy to work with through the preconstruction and construction phase. They have genuinely worked as a team incorporating other specialists and stakeholders as appropriate. There is clearly an enormous pride in delivering the very best building possible with thorough and well-planned approach and attention to detail.”

Mr Hawthorne, adds, ‘’The way [the team] has supported me and my endless questions and need for the finer details has enabled me to build a real and genuine relationship with the fabric of the building which will last with me forever and makes it so much more than just a steel and concrete box.”

But it’s important to note, there have also been critical learnings on the way, which they captured via their unique customer insight interviewing process; these are learnings they share across their business to drive continued and lasting improvement across the whole of the sector.

Taken together, they believe the customer satisfaction and overall project delivery seen on the Ropemakers’ Academy is exemplar and is something they are truly proud of.