During Customer Service Week we spend a day in the life of our customer service desk

It’s National Customer Service Week this week and every day on Linked In and Twitter we’ll be celebrating some of the ways our brilliant team has been helping our customers.

We’re starting by having a deep dive into what our specialised customer service desk does – and we spoke to service supervisor Matt Peet, who’s been at the helm for more than a decade, to meet the team and find out what goes on in the average day.

Our dedicated customer service desk operates 24/7 and ensures our customers always have a voice at the end of the phone. Not all life safety system providers have a dedicated resource of this nature, instead relying on their engineers to handle the customer service side of the business.

Matt’s customer service team of Faye, Shannai, Katie, Charlotte and Andy are on hand Monday to Friday to look after more than 650 customers across the UK.

“We always look to provide a tailored personal customer experience,” explained Matt.  “We want to exceed customer expectations. We have exciting plans which will see us developing our systems to give our customers a best in class customer experience.”

The team divides its tasks into four areas – service and maintenance, callouts, small works and warranty issues.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our service, and a new and improved customer portal will be launched over the coming months. This year we have worked with customers to install remote fire alarm monitoring to give us the visibility in the office of their fire alarm panels. Our focus is to ensure that the system not only complies to standard but that its health is optimal,” said Matt.

“Our coordinators all complete external fire alarm training to help give them a better understanding of issues faced when a fire alarm goes into fault. A typical issue could be an emergency callout where a fire alarm shows a fault indicating it has a split loop, which could mean part of the alarm isn’t working. In this case, we need to get someone to site quickly to ensure it’s not left in a compromised state.

“Our team is designed to find solutions. If we don’t immediately know the answer, then we find and ask the right people and ensure we respond to the customer.”

A typical day

Matt gives an example of a typical day on the customer services desk – although of course every day is different!

  • Client calls in with issue/query
  • Service desks listens and looks to provide an answer. This could be an engineer response.
  • If an engineer is required, we will log this in our system and get our engineer to call the customer or attend site
  • Should the query not be for an engineer and the team is unable to respond then this is escalated to me or another manager
  • We talk the situation through with the team member and look for a solution. This could be me handling the situation, the admin or coordinator
  • Once a solution is found we call the client to advise and look to action it
  • If an engineer has attended site, once the work report comes back to the office, our admin teams will check these for any recommendations or variations to any standards. We get the information back to the office once the engineer has completed the work report on his or her mobile. This is pretty instant. Any recommendations or variation will be highlighted to the customer. In some instances, a quote will be provided to the customer and the service desk will ensure the responsible person is provided with a copy of any highlighted issues
  • When an engineer attends we always look to provide a first time fix where possible
  • Once the client is happy we will look to action any highlighted issues to resolve any problems on site
  • Time for a cup of tea
  • Rinse and repeat the process the next day – usually with a twist!














CDS celebrates its amazing team during National Customer Service Week

This week marks a daily roll call of CDS customer service brilliance!

Every day during the week we’re celebrating, on Linked In and Twitter, some of our amazing team and the positive impact they’ve had on our customers.

Here’s what student accommodation provider UPP’s maintenace supervisor Brian Taylor told us about one of our engineers. “Daniel Lopez is outstanding. His communication, manner is spot on. From the day he arrived an absolute pleasure.”

Engineer Lee Smart has come in for equally fulcome praise. This is what a customer said while he was working on a complex site which had 43 km of aspirating pipe – in fact it was the biggest project CDS has ever undertaken!

“He’s a very likeable man, very helpful, super informative and an extremely knowledgeable engineer.”

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “CDS handled this project from design through to commissioning. Lee did a fantastic job, and in his usual modest way he admitted he couldn’t have got this over the line without the support of his colleagues Adam, Dan, Steve and his apprentice Riley.

“Lee also singled out one of our service engineers Jack who, on a Sunday morning, dropped everything to help Lee get the final stages of this project completed. It was a great team effort, that ensured we met the customer expectations.”

And we finish National Customer Service Week by thanking our director of service delivery, Keith Helstrip, for the brilliant job he does day in day out to ensure we deliver for our customers. Keith finds solutions to fix customers problems when faced with very challenging situations. Some of the feedback from our larger clients this year has been ‘fantastic, supportive, always ready to help, quick to respond to issues.’

CDS poised to celebrate National Customer Service Week

The CDS team is warming up to mark National Customer Service Week next week, by highlighting some of the fantastic achievements not only of the team on the customer service desk, but also some of the ‘above and beyond’ moments of some of its colleagues.

The week is organised by The Institute of Customer Service whose purpose is, not surprisingly, to improve not only the performance of individual businesses across the UK, but of the wider economy, by focusing on offering excellent customer service.

The Institute says its research shows a sustained improvement in customer satisfaction will provide a £33bn per year productivity boost to the UK economy.

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “Customer service is extremely important to us. As well as giving everyone a warm fuzzy feeling, it offers a real business benefit. We want the relationship with our customers to go on for many years. As well as specifying and installing systems in the first place we want to be retained to maintain, service and eventually update them as regulations change. If we were to ignore the needs of our customers, they would go elsewhere.

“While our customer service desk is the first port of call for any client needing advice or help, everyone at CDS is an ambassador for the company. We’ve had many wonderful comments from our customers about our installation and service engineers for example.”

Every day during the week, which runs from Monday October 4 until Friday 8, focuses on a different aspect of customer service.

Monday looks at the changing world of work and the balance between human and technological responses to working with customers.

Tuesday concentrates on ensuring respect for customer services teams, some of whom can be the target of abuse.

Wednesday looks at the skills required to ensure excellent service.

Thursday emphasises that customer service needs to be dealt with at boardroom level, with good customer service being reflected in year-end balance sheets.

And Friday asks companies to celebrate their customer service ‘heroes.’

CDS offers high tech solution as fire brigade condemns number of unsafe buildings

With the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade calling this month for urgent action as the number of tower blocks in London with fire safety failings passed an “unacceptable milestone” of 1,000, CDS reports a growing order book as building managers call on its services to install high tech evacuation systems.

London Fire Brigade commissioner Andy Roe said that while more than 700 of the 1,006 tall buildings he identified as unsafe are at risk because of cladding issues, the remainder have other fire safety defects.

And it is 18m plus buildings of this nature whose managers are calling on CDS to help ensure they are protecting residents and complying with fire safety regulations. Additionally having such systems can prevent false alarm callouts – for which London Fire Brigade sometimes imposes heavy fines.

Andy Roe said: “We’re calling on all building owners and managers to take urgent action to remediate their buildings if there are serious fire safety failings. It is completely unacceptable for residents to be burdened with the knowledge, and the fear that can bring, that their building may not be safe in the event of a fire.”

He added that pressure is being put on officers who have to inspect or re-inspect buildings that have changed their evacuation strategy.

CDS has been heavily involved in designing, supplying, installing and maintaining complex fire safety detection systems in multi-storey residential blocks, many with numerous lifts, for several decades.

These include buildings for student, private rental and housing association tenants across the UK.

The addition of a new piece of technology to the CDS arsenal is providing even greater confidence to high rise dwellers.

The new C-TEC EVAC-ALERT system, which helps the fire and rescue service evacuate all or part of a building in an emergency, complies with the new BS 8629:2019 standard which gives guidance on the type of evacuation system installed in high rise blocks.

Housed in a vandal-resistant locked cabinet for use only by the fire and rescue service, the control panel features an intuitive interface, bright LED indicators and easy-to-operate toggle switches for each evacuation zone.

Global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties, is among the landlords choosing CDS to maintain and repair its fire alarm systems.

The contract sees CDS look after the safety of around 3,000 students and 1,500 private rental tenants in more than a dozen of its developments across the capital.

The role involves maintaining and repairing all the properties’ fire alarms, emergency lighting systems, automatic opening vents, sprinklers, dry and wet risers, fire hydrants and disabled refuges.

CDS service manager Keith Helstrip explained: ““These buildings are many storeys high and have several lifts. One has 32 floors. The fire safety requirements are highly complex and obviously of paramount importance and the systems in place have to be rigorously maintained and with a fast, effective, responsive repair system.”

CDS has created a mini video highlighting how remote monitoring systems can help protect buildings and their occupants while also preventing costly false alarms.

CDS sees rise in demand from global brands as UK warehouse investment doubles

With investment in warehouse space in the UK in the first half of 2021 double that of the same period last year, fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has seen a sharp rise in demand for its services from global brands over the past few months.

It has installed complex fire safety systems in warehouse sites and distribution centres owned by some of the biggest names in retail and logistics over the past few years – with a busy order book well into 2022.

Among the highly sophisticated projects CDS has carried out for huge worldwide players is the maintenance and service of an extensive fire safety network at one of the largest single warehouses in the whole of Europe – two million square feet of logistics space employing 1,200 staff in Yorkshire.

Property consultancy Knight Frank says £6bn was invested in UK warehouses in the first half of 2021, more than double the £2.7bn recorded in the same period last year, and 54% higher than the previous record in 2018.

Its research shows 37m sq ft of warehouse space is likely to have been built by the end of 2021, up from 23m sq ft last year and 21m in 2019.

The rise in e-commerce and an increasing number of data centres are key factors behind the expansion, with the M25 now home to the second biggest data hub in the world.

John Lewis signed the lease this month on a one million sq ft warehouse in Milton Keynes to enable it to process online purchases, which have risen from 40% in the pre-pandemic era to 60% of overall sales.

And Amazon signed 18 letting deals in the first half of 2021, according to estate agency Savills, just one fewer than it agreed in the whole of 2020, with its latest signing a 20-year, £97m, lease on a 700,000 sq ft site at Magna Park in Leicestershire.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “For more than 30 years we’ve been working with some of the biggest names in the worlds of warehousing, distribution and logistics.

“With the growth of online shopping and the emergence of data centres our work in this sector has expanded. As well as protecting lives, property and stock, our systems ensure the occupiers tick all the compliance boxes.

“Our sophisticated systems can be remotely monitored, enable complex services to be consolidated under one supplier, and help save money by reducing downtime. And they safely and cost effectively manage false alarms. In a fast-moving and highly profitable industry every minute wasted is very expensive indeed.”

“Warehouse” by KOMUnews is licensed under CC BY 2.0


CDS welcomes Building Safety Bill and criminal charges for those who fail to comply

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has welcomed the Building Safety Bill aimed at protecting residents in high rise buildings in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

The 218-page bill, introduced to parliament this summer and due to become law later this year, is aimed at transforming the way tall residential buildings are designed, constructed and managed to ensure the safety of those living there.

Those failing to comply with the new legislation are likely to face criminal charges.

A key part of the bill is focused on fire safety, with reforms to the existing Fire Safety Order due to come into force six to 12 months after it receives royal assent. This will include a requirement for fire risk assessments to be recorded for each building and improve how fire safety information is handed over throughout its lifetime.

The reforms will see new requirements placed on a building’s ‘responsible person’, usually the building owner or, in the case of social landlords, a team of people, who will be obliged to preserve and make available appropriate fire information for residents over the building’s lifetime.

They will be required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility for safety during design, construction, completion and occupation of high-rise buildings.

The reform will also put greater emphasis on the responsible person ensuring that the professional carrying out fire risk assessments is ‘competent,’ with tougher fines for those breaching the order.

The new measures will also make it easier to identify who is responsible for fire safety, with anyone impersonating or obstructing a fire inspector facing unlimited fines.

The ‘responsible persons’ will need to ensure that their fire risk assessments include the fire safety risks and, where appropriate, any general fire precautions.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “Any legislation aimed at protecting people’s personal safety must be welcomed. This bill has been designed to overhaul the safety at all stages of a building’s life – from design to occupation and throughout its tenure.

“There is to be a transparent chain of command enabling residents to see and be able to access those responsible for their safety. The regulations, once in force, will give greater clarity to what has been a grey area for too long and should help residents feel more confident that they can be safe from fire, and have the means to escape should one arise.

“Carrying out a fire risk assessment is already a complex process, and these regulatory changes will make it more so. While there is currently no legal requirement for them to be carried out by an expert, the likelihood of missing something crucial, the obligation to use a ‘competent’ person and now the added threat of fines, suggests it would make sense to instruct an independent, appropriately qualified specialist.”

Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises, as well as for the communal areas of residential buildings such as blocks of flats and sheltered housing complexes.

CDS has more than 30 years’ experience of providing such assessments to an extensive client base including universities, schools, hospitals, care homes, councils, police authorities, social housing providers, student accommodation, hotel chains, warehouses, distribution centres, factories and airports.

CDS plays key role in retail fire safety as High Streets celebrate record growth

As High Streets celebrate their most successful quarter on record, CDS has been playing a key role in enabling retail chains and shops to adapt to the removal of Covid restrictions this month.

The fire detection and life safety specialist has been working with major retailers across the UK to make sure they are safe and compliant as the end of the social distancing rule increases the capacity of their stores.

Retailers from Holland and Barratt to JD Sports are among those to benefit from CDS’ 30 plus years of expertise in fire safety as their outlets are reconfigured to adapt to the return to ‘normality.’

The fire safety work has coincided with a spectacular boom in sales, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which show trade from April to June was up 28.4% on the same period last year and 10.4% on spring 2019.

While CDS can’t claim to be behind the revenue boost, its skill and experience ensures customers and staff are safe and that retailers comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises.

The work has involved carrying out fire risk assessments for stores, shopping centres,  retail parks and distribution centres which, until this month, had to reconfigure their layouts to facilitate social distancing.

In addition to carrying out the assessments, CDS has been designing, installing, and maintaining life safety systems for its retail clients.

While the relaxation of the Covid rules is good news from a footfall point of view, reverting to pre-pandemic store layouts means retailers have been obliged to undertake or commission a further fire risk assessment for each outlet, as a new one needs to be carried out every time changes are made to a building.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “The lifting of restrictions is, on the one hand, excellent news for retailers who can look forward to selling to more customers and continuing the spending boost they have enjoyed for the past few months.

“On the flip side, some people may prefer to stay away from shops where social distancing and mask wearing are a matter of personal choice rather than a legal requirement. The responsibility for ensuring their customers feel comfortable lies with the retailer, while our role is to ensure shoppers and staff are protected from a fire safety point of view.

“It’s also worth reminding retail chains that they need to ensure the fire alarms and extinguishers in every one of their outlets have been tested and are compliant with British Standards. This is another service which we’ve been very busy providing for our retail clients over the past few months as restrictions ease.”

CDS has more than 30 years’ experience of providing fire risk assessments  and designing, installing and miantaining fire safety systems to an extensive client base including retail warehouses, distribution centres, shopping centres and stores.

“High Bridge, High Street, Lincoln” by Lincolnian (Brian) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0









CDS helps ensure leisure and hospitality venues are fire-safe and compliant before July 19 reopening

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has been working with businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry to make sure they are safe and compliant before reopening or expanding their capacity on July 19.

This has involved carrying out fire risk assessments for hotels, galleries and stately homes which have had to reconfigure their layouts to facilitate social distancing.

As well as ensuring they comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), CDS has been designing, installing and maintaining life safety systems for its leisure clients.

The relaxation of the Covid rules on July 19 means these organisations can revert to their previous layouts, necessitating a further fire risk assessment, as a new one needs to be carried out every time changes are made to the building.

Nightclubs have also benefitted from CDS’ expertise, as have theatres, museums and wedding venues.

CDS managing director Simon Abley is also reminding venues of the need to check that their fire alarms and extinguishers have been tested and are compliant with British Standards – a service which CDS has also been providing for its clients.

“From a business point of view, the leisure and hospitality sector has perhaps had more hoops to jump through in the last year and a half than any other,” he said.

“There will be further massive changes in the coming weeks as pubs and bars increase indoor capacity, theatres and cinemas can perform to full houses and wedding venues can welcome a full complement of guests. We are also likely to see more people using airports if the plan to allow the double jabbed to travel on holiday without the need for quarantine is agreed.

“We have been working for more than 30 years with a huge raft of businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector. This year we have been even busier because we have needed to ensure they are safe and compliant as they adapt to comply with every Covid regulation change.”

Wedding venues are among the leisure and hospitality businesses benefitting from compliance and fire safety help from CDS (“group” by sarchi is licensed under CC BY 2.0)




CDS celebrates its own Euro 2020 victory, with projects in England, Scotland and Wales

The CDS team has been gripped by Euro 2020 fever. Not only are many of its colleagues glued to their TV screens (when not at work of course), they have also created their own version of the tournament wallchart – and have already conquered all three home nations.

Since the first kick off on June 11, the team has carried out projects in England, Scotland and Wales, demonstrating CDS’ truly national coverage as the company expands to offer its services to every corner of mainland Britain.

The Welsh projects follow both the recent acquisition of Monmouthshire-based Tann Synchronome and the opening earlier this year of an office in Manchester.

The appointments of CDS northern regional director Derek Stacey and sales manager Steve Hughes have also enabled CDS to extend its reach into North Wales and Scotland. The company has undertaken new projects for local authorities, universities and student accommodation providers in Edinburgh and across the county of Gwynedd.

And the appointment of regional sales manager Ross O’Connell to cover the South West and Wales has led to CDS significantly raising its profile in the region and increasing its ability to support the M & E sector in South Wales.

CDS has been well-known and respected for its operations in England for more than 30 years, and its new ‘buy and build’ strategy, introduced following its acquisition last year by MD Simon Abley and chairman Simon Cashmore,has been behind its successes in the other two home nations. The policy aims to see CDS expand geographically as well as adding new services to its offering.

Simon Abley said: “We thought it would be fun to have a focus on carrying out projects in all three home nations during the Euros.

“As you can see, we’ve been pretty successful. And we have other new projects which should be in the bag – or maybe the back of the net – before the final on July 11.”

  • CDS supports the home nations during Euro 2020 

(credit) “Official Euro 2020 ball, green background” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0


CDS installs wire-free carbon monoxide monitoring system in home with open fires

CDS has just finished installing a wireless carbon monoxide detection system in a large property with the sole purpose of monitoring potential harmful gases released from open fires.

One of the key requirements of the client was that no cabling should disturb the aesthetic appeal of the building which contains several rooms with open fires.

The existing analogue/addressable fire alarm system posed no problem for CDS, which has more than three decades of experience in carrying out complex, multi-faceted projects. But as the need for CO detection was highlighted after carrying out the fire risk assessment, the second half of the commission was potentially more challenging.

Incorporating CO detection presented a potential problem, as the design of the rooms meant there was no way any cabling could be concealed.

The solution was to install battery operated CO sensors, and CDS chose the Ei208 models manufactured and distributed by AICO limited. The devices are capable of wireless transmission to a receiver which, in turn, is interfaced onto the existing main fire alarm system detection loop.

The installation team located an electrical switch cupboard which already had a smoke sensor installed and were able to install both the AICO receiver units and loop-powered system interfaces within the space, thus providing detection with no apparent effect on the internal décor.

In addition to the CO monitoring, CDS specified, installed, and commissioned an advanced addressable fire alarm system incorporating Apollo smoke sensors, which enables immediate identification of the precise location of any fire outbreak, and carried out all related refurbishment work.

CDS has been installing carbon monoxide monitors as part of its all-encompassing life safety system work for many years, but until now they have always been wired into existing wired fire detection loops. This has never been an issue, as the structure of the buildings has either enabled installers to hide the cabling, or, in the case of some commercial premises, hasn’t had the aesthetic impact such a procedure would have on centuries-old interior design.

Having successfully pioneered the use of this battery-operated system CDS is ow looking forward to offering the product to other similar clients and properties.

Other attractive older buildings on which CDS has carried out major installation projects include Leicester City Council’s magnificent Victorian town hall. As the property needed to remain up and running during the day, the CDS team carried out the work overnight over a few weeks to ensure a seamless transition from its previous system.

CDS has an impressive 33-year track record in the education, healthcare, logistics, leisure, airport, industrial property and housing sectors.