Project Description

In a bid to provide a multi-disciplinary, professional workforce able to meet the burgeoning demands of primary care, non-clinical roles are being developed and extended.

Incorporating the Customer Service Specialist Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard and Level 3 City & Guilds, this course offers the opportunity for customer service practitioners (receptionists, administrators, care navigators) to develop their business and customer insight knowledge and skills and work towards a recognised formal qualification.

As the name suggests learners will become ‘specialists’ in customer support and ‘advocates’ for excellent customer service, supporting other team members and highlighting service improvements, working with a range of systems and data.

It is highly likely that those involved in this qualification would also have a key role in Enhanced Care Navigation within their practices.

Learning techniques

This qualification will include a wide range of teaching and learning techniques including one-to-one teaching, group discussions and teaching, observations, practical assessments, coaching, mentoring, independent research and e-learning.


This apprenticeship is 95% government-funded with a 5% employer co-investment.

  • Duration: 15-18 Months

  • Location: Workplace

Entry Requirements

Although organisations will set their own entry criteria, it is anticipated that individuals selected will already possess advanced inter-personal skills, and experience of working in a customer service environment.

Level 2 Maths and English will be required for the qualification End Point Assessment.


This unit will include an initial workplace observation and one-to-one discussion and will cover:

  • Understanding of candidate’s duties and responsibilities
  • Understanding candidate’s personal development in a healthcare setting
  • Understanding key principles of customer service
  • Exploration of patient/customer relationship
  • Core attitudes and behaviours
  • Importance of presentation
  • Understanding of how to deliver integrated care in general practice

Skills & Understanding

This qualification includes knowledge and skills units focused on:

1. Business knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the practice and localities’ current strategies in relation to their customers/patients and how this impacts on the wider healthcare environment., e.g. GPFV; Making Time in General Practice.
  • Understand the concept of continuous improvement
  • Ability to make recommendations for change and improvement in service related decisions
  • Explore and understand a range of leadership styles in the context of the customer service environment

2. Customer/Patient journey knowledge

  • Recognise and evaluate the range of experiences and challenges of the patients/customers
  • Identify the impact the organisation’s service offering may have on the customer/patient
  • Knowledge and application of all relevant processes and procedures supporting customer service
  • Ability to map the patient journey for a range of individuals and signpost appropriately
  • Understand balance in healthcare environment between individual’s expectations and commercial and business factors

3. Customer insight

  • Understand the locality and the impact of varying cultures on expectations
  • Knowledge of patient profile and who are the organisation’s internal and external customers
  • Effective use of relevant information and data to provide customer insights and variances
  • Understand the factors influencing patient/customer retention and satisfaction in the practice and how this is measured
  • Champion the effective delivery of care navigation and signposting.

4. Culture and environment awareness

  • Relevant knowledge and understanding of legislation, policies and protocols impacting on customer service in primary care – national and local, e.g. GPFV, GDPR
  • Awareness of how to find information on best practice for the healthcare environment and how to present recommendations
  • Explore the role of customer service in the organisation, its wider impact and implications of poor customer service

5. Business focused service delivery

  • Ability to resolve complex patient/customer service issues
  • Suggest recommendations for customer service improvement balancing needs of organisation with patient requirements and expectations.
  • Understanding of unique healthcare business environment and how it differs from some other customer service environments
  • Insight into issues facing general practice and need for increased resilience

6. Providing a positive customer experience

  • Use advanced communication and care navigation to enhance patient experience

  • Assist patients in making choices and agreeing next steps
  • Act as an escalation point for complex and challenging customer service situations
  • Resolve customer complaints and identify key areas of dissatisfaction
  • Utilise a range of data and information to provide insights on the service provided and satisfaction levels

7. Working with customers/patients

  • Proactively gather and analyse customer/patient information and data and act upon results to make service improvements
  • Use information on patient profiles and groups to anticipate needs and expectations of the service

8. Customer service performance

  • Use effective communication and negotiation to maintain positive patient/customer relations even when their expectations are not met.
  • Effective management of referrals and escalations to achieve resolution
  • Understand, uphold and develop complaints procedure

9. Service improvements

  • Analyse the entire patient/customer journey and suggest recommendations
  • Understand and implement any new relevant legislation, regulations and ways of working
  • Review how services are promoted and make recommendations

End Point Assessment

Candidates are supported and coached towards the End Point Assessment, working on collecting evidence and their work-based project. The EPA will comprise of:

  • A practical observation in the work place with Q&As
  • A work-based project report of 2,500 words & interview
  • A professional discussion supported by portfolio evidence

Completion of the Level 3 qualification leads to eligibility to join the Institute of Customer Service.

A PMA Tutor/Assessor will be assigned to work with you throughout the duration of the course and will support you through your journey. There are normally between 289-375 guided learning hours for the programme and these will be delivered through face-to-face learning with your Tutor, group teaching, workplace learning and observations.

The time commitment to achieve your City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma is in the region of 4 hours a week which includes the off the job element, this is flexible, and should you have more time available your PMA Tutor/Assessor will be able to adjust your pace of learning accordingly.

Depending on the employer, the candidate and the pace of work, the course will typically take a minimum of 15 months to complete.

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