The Executive Director, Finance and Resources reminded Members that at the last meeting the Board had discussed general complaints and compliments, but had requested further information in respect of how the Council dealt with general issues/requests for services, for example a missed bin collection and how these were logged and dealt with. It was appreciated that this was an area for improvement, although some areas were good at responding to this type of enquiry.
Members were provided with some data from a survey which had been carried out which showed levels of customer satisfaction. It was also explained that complaints were dealt with through the Senior Management Team. It was explained that there were a number of issues within the Customer Service Team, which were currently being addressed and it was acknowledged that improvements needed to be made. Work had already begun to be carried out in respect of the culture issues brought up through the staff survey and these have also been picked up in the Council Plan. As Mr Anderson had suggested, in his presentation, happy staff made happy customers. It was therefore important for the Council to work on making the necessary improvements for all concerned.
The Executive Director, Finance and Resources also confirmed that the Council was working on improving the online self-serve offer to customers, which would have a positive impact on freeing up staff to deal with the more complicated enquiries. The Transformation Manager had been carrying out a piece of work with the team looking at its customer base and how best to deal with the varied queries that they received, by working through enquiries in order to establish how best to deal with them.
Members were provided with some data from a survey which had been carried out which showed levels of customer satisfaction. It was also explained that complaints were dealt with through the Senior Management Team. It was noted that work was currently being undertaken to improve customer service across the Council as there are inconsistencies in the way customers are dealt with. In addition, work had already begun to be carried out in respect of the culture issues brought up through the staff survey and these have also been picked up in the Council Plan. As Mr Anderson had suggested, in his presentation, happy staff made happy customers. It was therefore important for the Council to work on making the necessary improvements for all concerned.
Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling discussed with Members how he had spent a day “at the front line” in order to get a feel of what staff had to deal with. It was hoped that the new Enterprise Resource Planning System, which had recently been agreed, would be invaluable in giving frontline staff access to a wider network of information and therefore enable them to assist with dealing with issues much more quickly and efficiently.
Members went on to discuss a number of areas in more detail, including:
· The importance of getting back to the customer in a set timescale rather than leaving it opened ended or saying as soon as possible.
· Whether there was a prompt for the staff to be able to ask the right questions in order to deal with specific enquiries.
· Whether the calls were being taken by the Hub or if it was this Council’s officers. It was confirmed that it was the Customer Service team and not the Hub..
· Whether the data was published and available to Members – it was noted that previously the Board received a six monthly report in respect of Compliments and Complaints, which allowed them to monitor the situation. The Executive Director, Finance and Resources advised that this was available on the Corporate Measures Dashboard, but not on the Council’s main website.
· A breakdown of the types of enquiries and whether these were by phone, online or in person would be useful.
The Chairman suggested that, as a new system was being developed and a restructure taking place, then it may be useful for the Board to monitor this and request that a further update be received in six months’ time. The Executive Director, Finance and Resources agreed and also advised that the comments of Members would be taken on Board in respect of timescales for example when the Customer Pledge document was refreshed.
The use of a reference number for each issue/request was discussed as this was something which was also used at Worcestershire County Council. It was suggested that this would be useful for Members to also be able to assist with queries they received from residents, particularly where they had been contacted when a response had either not been received or was not satisfactory.
RESOLVED that the Overview and Scrutiny Board receive a further update in respect of Customer Service be received in six months time, together with data in respect of Compliments and Complaints.