Agenda item

Customer Service Update

(Susan Lewis) To consider the attached report regarding an update on the Customer Strategy and ‘What our customers are telling us’.


The Service Manager for Customer presented a Customer Service update on the following areas;


·         What the Customer were telling the Council;

·         Complaints;

·         Performance for Customer Satisfaction & Complaints;

·         What worked well; Training;

·         the Multi-Channel Digital Platform;

·         Corporate External Communications;

·         Members Technology & Members Contact Process Review; and

·         the Digital Inclusion project.


She advised that social media continued to grow as an interactive communications resource as customers reported day to day issues such as fly tipping and littering with the website being the most effective and efficient means of accessing Council Information. The number of formal complaints had reduced and the overall customer satisfaction was 66%. It was noted that complaints resolved with the SLA was 89% and first point resolution was 49% although the customer contact centre had been severally impacted by resourcing issues.


At the Civic Offices the Welcome Lounge had opened on 19 July with the general footfall beginning to increase and the Community Hub had opened on 13 September.


The Broadway Cash Office continued to see a strong usage of cash payments in addition to the kiosks in Waltham Abbey and Epping. This would be taken into consideration for the report on future options for cash paying customers.


Plans were in progress for the launch of a news app – provisionally titled District Matters and following a soft launch in September, the app would provide a digital platform for the Council to share its own and third party news content from partners and other relevant stakeholders.


Members were advised that in absence of a full Members Portal, an interim single access point via the website was being developed and would include all the main links that Members may need. Furthermore once a Team Manager for Members Services had been recruited, a working group would be set up to progress the Digital Inclusion Programme.


The Committee asked the following questions:


·         Was there anything place to assist with the recruitment of staff such as terms, salary? The Service Manager for Customer advised that people were either not moving or a counter offer was made to retain them with a national trend of vacancies. In additional to this, the Customer Services team had experience a number of long term absences. 

·         When would the Members Portal be launched? The Customer & Partnerships Services Portfolio Holder advised that they were due to launch the Members Portal, which contained links to the various frequently ask questions, members contact form and access to The link could be found at the bottom of the EFDC website home page. It was also noted that the Member Contact Form could be accessed directly from members i pads.

·         Were there lessons to be learnt from the residents use of cash payments?  The Service Manager for Customer advised that this data would be taken and included in a report which would be presented to Members in October 2021.

·         Did the reference to 65 Complaints, mean formal complaints? The Service Manager for Customer advised that was correct.

·         What was the customer journey for residents who make a formal complaint to the Chief Executive? The Service Manager for Customer advised that it would be logged by the Customer Complaints and Satisfaction Manager and logged and then allocated to the relevant specialist officer and should receive a response within the service level agreement.

·         What was the trend for Customer Services? The Service Manager for Customer advised that unfortunately she did have the capacity to analyse the data because of the resourcing issues, although some services where taking calls back into their service to assist with the call waiting times such as issues involving waste. Regarding phone call that were not being answered, this issue would be flagged with the Leadership team to enable officers to understand the problems that may be occurring.  

·         Would the issues be reported back to Members once the resourcing issue had been resolved? The Service Manager for Customer advised that once the Team Manager for Members had been recruited, focus groups would be held with Members to understand what Members needs were and what information they would like to receive. It was noted that KPI’s for Customer Services would now be reported to Stronger Council Select Committee, in line with other services areas.

·         Could more information be given on the 13 waste complaints? The Service Manager for Customer advised that she did not have the details although all of the complaints had been dealt with by the waste department and Biffa.

·         Whether the desk ratio was correct? The Operation Officer advised that the building capacity was a 4:10 desk ratio although there were a number of alterative meeting rooms and work spaces which brought the ratio up to 6/7:10. This equated to the same number of people in the building as before and the issue about staff being in the building was more around staff returning to work following the pandemic.  


The Committee made a number of comments which included;


·         that there were major issues with contacting the Council for both members and residents, in particular where action was required urgently.  In addition to the way in which members were required to now report issues. The Customer & Partnerships Services Portfolio Holder advised that there were a number of issues that had affected the service which included the changes in the building through the transformation process, covid sending staff to home working before everything was in place, recruitment issues and the telephone system was not designed to provide the link between services. He stated that he was aware that a solution required both online services and a call centre for both residents and members and he was working to resolve these issues.

·          That the term ‘the Civic’ which had previous discussed at another Select Committee and that many members were not happy with officers using this term when either the Civic Offices or the Community Hub were discussed.

·         That a discussion was required around what type of remote working was appropriate for meetings because of technical and sound issues when presenting to Members.

·         That the rural residents would not benefit from either the Community Hub in Epping or other two proposed in Waltham Abbey or Loughton because of the poor transport links. Could there be consideration for a mobile version of the hub to visit the rural areas? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that the Community Hub approach did not have to rely on footfall but brought a number of services together for a collaborative outcome for the resident. There was a scoping exercise being carried out across the District for Community and Wellbeing services and this would look at what services were being provided and how they were being articulated back to members. Following this, officers would be able to determine where there were gaps within the district and look at solution.  


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