Agenda item

Customer Service Update

To consider the attached report updating on ‘what our customers are telling us’ and the Customer Strategy.


The Customer Services Manager gave an update on the Council’s Customer Service in the following areas;


·         What the residents were telling us;

·         Complaints;

·         Recycling Outlets; 

·         What had worked well; and

·         The Customer Strategy.


She informed the Committee that significant changes had been made to the website customer satisfaction survey, which had enabled residents and the Council to respond more easily. In regards to the complaints, the majority of these had been in relation to  business grants which had not been upheld. From the data it appeared that the complaints were not process driven but regarding the outcome. Furthermore, residents had now familiarised themselves with other recycling sack outlets in the District which could remove the need for residents visiting the Civic Office only for recycling sacks.   


The re-opening of the Broadway Cash Office had received positive customer feedback  and in the first month the Cash Office had taken almost £210,000 in total of which £109,000 was cash.The kiosks at the Civic would open once the building was Covid safe for external customers.  The long term solutions for cash paying customers had been looked at and a report on this would follow in September.


Customer Strategy


It was noted that the new welcome lounge and partnership hub at the Civic offices had been progressing and partners included Food Bank, Phoenix Futures, Nacro, VAEF, ECC Family Solutions, DWP, CAB, CHESS Homeless, Changing Pathways and Peabody. It was envisaged that services and partners would be aligned and available on the same days/times, to provide a one stop multi agency approach for residents.


There had been ‘Customer Shoes’ behavioural training session for staff, which had providedcoaching for difficult and challenging customer conversations and a holistic view of customer behavioural training was being considered across all service areas.


The Corporate Communications had invested extensive support in the delivery of the recent County, District Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) and Town and Parish elections and results of the elections had been posted via the website and social media. The election count centre at North Weald Airfield had featured extensively in the local TV news coverage broadcast by BBC London and the team had also supported the webcasting for virtual and face-to-face meetings in the Civic Office.


New and re-elected Members had attended the Civic Offices for their induction session and further work continued into Members technology and reviewing Members contact with officers.


The Committee asked the following questions;


·         What was meant by ‘long term solutions for cash payments’ in relation to the Broadway cash office? The Customer Services Manager advised that the cash office at the Broadway would not be removed, although consideration was being given to what other options could be provided for cash paying residents across the District.

·         What type of new queries had been received over the pandemic period; and what provisions were in place for staff following a difficult call? The Customer Services Manager advised that queries were mainly to do with what support the Council was offering and business grants. The Call centre staff were supplied with Frequently Asked Question(FAQ) crib sheet; received additional training and were supported by other service areas. If they received a particular difficult call, they had the use of  virtual Teams or could call a colleague directly in addition to relevant training that they had received.

·         Could Members receive the ‘In Customer Shoes’ training? Yes, the next session had scheduled for September and information about this course would be distributed in the Members Bulletin.

·         How would the partnership hub work in practice? The Customer Service Manager advised that the hub would not be a drop-in centre but a appointments based service dependent on when the partners were available. It was envisioned that around 80% appointments would be booked and 20% would be allowed for other urgent cases.

·         How would the partnership hub be advertised? The Service Manager advised that a communication plan would be developed to look at the options in conjunction with the partners advertising the hub as well.

·         What was the service level performance for customer service? The Customer Service Manager advised that the quarter 1 period had not ended, so she was unable to provide the Committee with this information. Although it was noted that first point resolution for calls was currently at 54%.

·         Why were there so many complaints in relation to business grants? The Finance, Qualis Client & Economic Development Portfolio Holder advised that there was numerous and complex criteria for the business grants, which were followed and had resulted in complaints on the success of applications, which differed from complaints concerning the process.

·         What was IVR? The Customer Service Manager advised that it was the voice recognition system used to assist the call centre staff, if a FAQ was asked and IVR stood for Interactive Voice Recognition.


It was noted that some Members were experiencing frustration with the technology supplied to access reports, submit issues and contact the relevant officers. The Customer Services Manager advised that a daily report was being produced, which aimed to create a data of issues and resolution which would hopefully reduce the issues over time.


·         In relation to KPI reporting, was the pentana system still used? The Customer Service Manager advised that the system had originally been used to manage projects and was not now used, although a review of project governance was being completed.




That the Committee noted the update on ‘what our residents were telling us’ and the Customer Strategy.

Supporting documents: