Tameside Customer Contact & Care Strategy

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1 Tameside Customer Contact & Care Strategy

2 Tameside Customer Contact and Care Strategy 1. Purpose The purpose of this document is to outline the current situation with regard to the authority s customer contact practices and review them against the original Access to Services aspirations from It also sets out new practices, improvements, and developments which will be required to continue driving the agenda forward. 2. Introduction Tameside council introduced the Access to Services strategy in September years on many of principles then adopted are still true today. It recognised the need to have a corporate complaints system, introduced the customer services function, which would act as the corporate front office for the core council services. It would be separate and independent of the back office deliverers. It also highlighted the importance of equipping customer facing staff with both the technology and personal skills to deal effectively with the general public. As a result, Tameside finds itself in the enviable position of being widely recognised as one of the leading local authority practitioners in this field 1. However if we are maintain and build upon this reputation we must continue to develop and improve the way we deal with our customers. This report aims to provide a blue print for further developing the corporate customer contact vision. It deals with: Supportive technologies e.g. websites, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Document Management (DM) and Knowledge Management (KM) Channels for delivery e.g. Face-to-face, telephone and the Internet Accessibility issues including opening times and locations But in addition to the above, it also recognises the pivotal role that people play in ensuring customer expectations are realised. It is the skills and attitudes of our staff towards the public and each other, which can colour the public s perceptions of our services. This strategy is a fundamental element for addressing the issue of how to use egovernmemt to improve customer care and deliver efficiencies demanded by Gershon. Scope The scope of this report includes: A review of all existing customer facing front office services Recommendations for next steps in implementing the strategy This report excludes: Recommendations on improving the way the organisation deals with, and learns from, customer complaints. These issues will be addressed in a supplementary report that will be produced following the feedback from TMI/ICS complaints survey 2. 1 Winners of the 2004 MJ award for Transforming Customer Services. 2 National survey carried out by TMI and ICS which looked at the attitudes and perceptions of staff and customers towards our complaints process.

3 Guiding Principles. The strategy has been shaped using some fundamental principles that were either introduced in the 1997 Access to Services Strategy, or that have developed over the intervening years. These core values distil what we are striving to achieve. They are: Corporate front office, with one identity Joined up service delivery with partners and other agencies Services based around customers needs Self Service for those who can One stop approach 80% first time resolution Choice of access channels Convenient opening hours Proactive customer relationship management Publicised service standards Better use of information and knowledge Effective performance management including failure demand Appropriately trained and motivated staff Front office to act as an advocate for the customer. Corporate complaints system, independent from the back office. 3. Contact Channels There are a variety of channels by which our customers can access our services. Each method has strengths and weaknesses and it is vital to get a good mix of delivery channels to ensure that customer s preferences can be met, council services are accessible, and cost for delivery represents value for money. The council currently uses 3 primary access channels by which our customers can contact us: Face-to-face Telephone Internet These core channels can then be sub divided into discreet front office services and functions: Face-to-face Telephone Internet o Customer First Centres o Call Centre & switch board o Council Website service o In Touch Tameside centres in Libraries o Social Services Children s Services reception. o Social Services Adult Services reception (RIAT) o District Assembly Offices o Home visit service o Social Services Children s Services reception o Housing benefits call centre o Social Services Adult Services reception (RIAT) o Libraries o Citizens Portal o Business Portal These access channels will continue to provide the backbone for service delivery within the council, however in addition to the above, a number of emerging and legacy channels need to be considered in the overall picture.

4 Emerging o SMS text messaging o Interactive Digital TV (idtv) Legacy o Post/ White mail o Fax o Services delivered via a trusted third party such as CAB Resources will continue to be invested in developing the potential for new and emerging channels, which in time can usefully supplement the core three mediums. At this stage it not proposed to bring the Post/ white mail service into a central front office function, however with the introduction of the document management system, technically this is now feasible. At present the extent to which any given service or transaction can be delivered in its entirety at the initial point of contact is dependent on the channel being used to access it. For example if proof of identity, or a signature is required then generally speaking only the face-to-face channel can be used. To a lesser extent the citizen portal (Internet) can also deliver certain services, which traditionally require signatures, by using Tameside s local authentication process. However this is set to change. As the government gateway is introduced, and citizen smart cards become a reality, these authentication barriers to service delivery will be removed. of the current service. The following charts show the number of visitors to each of the 3 main channels used for delivering services over the last 12 months. It clearly shows the changing the way that many people want to access services and whilst it is important to maintain investment across the board, it does highlight the importance of ongoing and future investment in the Call Centre and Website. Customer Contacts Sept 03 - Oct Web Face to Face Telephone

5 Face to face The council established the first of its One Stop shops in Ashton in Since then Hyde and Denton Customer First centres have also been re-furbished to a high standard, providing modern and accessible environments to deliver services from. The introduction of In Touch centres within libraries is also nearing completion with Dukinfield, Stalybridge, Mossley complete and Droylsden currently underway. This combination of dedicated and co-located centres has proved popular with the public; they provide high levels of service, with high levels of resolution at first point of contact. Website For a significant segment of the community, use of the Internet for accessing information and services is rapidly becoming the norm. Both the number of visitors and transactions performed on the site has steadily increased year on year. The following chart shows the number of self-service transactions (service requests) performed via the web site. External Transactions on the Web Site Transactions The council s website has for many years been recognised as being amongst the best in the country. It underpins the delivery of services across all channels, proving a single source of information ensuring consistency and accuracy when dealing with the public. In 2002 it was identified as being the first and only transactional Local Authority website 3, since then it has maintained its transactional status, whilst 9 other councils have also now achieved this grade 4. Following a major re-design of the site during 2003, Better Connected also recognised the council website as being the first AAA accessible local authority website 5 in the country. The Government target is AA for all local and central government websites by December A further review in 2004, looking at web services and information specifically for businesses, categorised Tameside as being one of only 7 local authorities with transactional services for this specific customer segment. 3 SOCITM Better Connected (2000) 4 SOCITM Better Connected (2003) 5 WAI accessibility standards for Websites

6 Call Centre The current call centre operates as a hybrid performing two different functions within the same unit. It delivers the Customer First call centre function, along with the traditional telephone switchboard service. In order to improve this vital piece of the customer contact jigsaw, a number of improvements must be made. Work has already been undertaken to improve both the physical environment and technology in use within the service, however to facilitate the step change improvement now required to bring the service to the same level of quality offered by the other two primary channels further investment and re-focusing is required. 4. The Way Forward Key Components of effective Customer Contact. Trained Staff o Ensure staff can take decisions in order to progress enquiries o Ensure staff are trained to appropriate levels for the services they deliver o Ensure staff have appropriate customer care competencies o Ensure effective performance measurement is in place o Career progression and reward based on competencies Appropriate Systems/Process o Provide access to information systems to help deal with enquiries o Have a single source for information o Ensure clear cutoff, or hand-over points at which enquiries are escalated to specialists Interaction o Provide seamless interfaces between front & back office o Provide joinedup services o Provide customers with confidence that services will be delivered Performance Management o Ensure regular customer feedback is obtained o Ensure consistent service standards across all channels o Ensure performance is monitored throughout the organisation on critical customer expectations o Ensure feedback and Performance data is used effectively and constructively o Communicate service achievement celebrate and reward success. Enabled by consistent processes and working practices, including C.I. Enabled by consistent application of appropriate technology e.g. CRM, Telephony Enabled by consistent knowledge infrastructure e.g. Website The Telephone A New Customer Contact Centre Early in 2004, BT consultants were commissioned to undertake a review of the current call centre function within the council. Their subsequent report 6 highlighted a number of strategic improvements that were needed to update and upgrade the service into a modern customer contact centre. This strategy will provide a framework for the new contact centre to operate in and to position it in relation to the other channels used by customers to access our services. The telephone is still a popular channel by which our citizens contact the council. Whilst much time, effort and money had been spend developing both the face-to-face channels and the 6 B T Call centre report April 2004.

7 council website, both to great effect, in contrast little resource has been invested in the call centre. The centre currently operates on the council s main Philips telephone system, which has been in operation for over 10 years. Whilst several years ago attempts were made to improve its functionality, it is not a specialist call centre system and does not meet many of the basic operational requirements that are needed to run and manage an effective modern operation of this kind and scale. The BT report highlighted some key improvements that need to be made with the call centre environment to bring it up to the standard that customers now expect, and that the website and face to face channels have already achieved. These issues have been pulled together into a 40-point action plan (attached as appendix 1) that will provide the blue print for this improvement. Central to this plan is the introduction of specialist call centre telephone technology that will underpin the core operation. This equipment is subject to a 500,000 capital bid 7. As well as provide improved operator functionality, the system will provide improved management information and support for virtual call centre operation. Supporting virtual call centre operation is key because the BT report has recommended that the Council moves away from the single number one call does it all approach and in its place introduces a new Customer Contact Centre, supplemented by a small, limited number of specialist back office centres, which will be seamlessly integrated. This change will also necessitate splitting the telephone switchboard function off from the Contact Centre. Depending on the customer s requirements they will either be dealt with by the new Customer Contact Centre, or they will be able to speak directly to back office specialists by ringing a golden number. It is expected that enquiries for services such as Planning, Social Services, Children s Services and Housing Benefits will fall into this category, as will Business First. It also planned to extend the opening hours of the new contact centre. But to do this within the existing staffing levels, front line customer first officers will also have to act as contact centre agents during peak times. To operate an effective and consistent service across this kind of distributed set-up requires a system capable of operating in different locations and sites across the borough, capable of accommodating local variations to service delivery, yet maintaining a single management and performance capability. This project will help deliver step improvement in the levels of service delivery via the telephone, in a similar scale to improvement achieved following investment in the website and face to face channels. Business First Since 1997 the organisation has concentrated its efforts on improving its customer services for the general public. The Economic Development Unit Best Value Inspection Report 8 identified improvements that were required in terms of access to business support and development services for all stakeholders, including potential users - across the Council and for all partnerships, including the organisational separation between economic development and regeneration; Whilst we have established and continue to develop a number of corporate delivery channels for the citizen, we have not developed similar coordinated services for local businesses. 7 Capital bid endorsed by Cllr Wilkinson and submitted October Economic Development Unit Best Value Inspection May 2002.

8 This strategy looks to resolve these differences in approach by recommending the introduction of a more focused and managed corporate approach to dealing with businesses Business First. Improving the way we deal with businesses will require a slightly different approach to that adopted for the citizen. The importance of providing face-to-face channels for service delivery are likely to be less important to this group of customers than effective telephone and Internet based services. That aside, the principles of well trained staff in customer care, service levels and charters, and an underpinning performance management system are equally as important to satisfying businesses are they are to keeping citizens happy. 5. Supportive Technologies Delivering successful customer services across the entire organisation will require technology to support staff and enable the resolution of customer enquiries at the first point of contact. All channels, where practical, should share the same technology solutions. The aim is to create an architecture that supports front line service delivery and that is integrated with the back office systems. Building Blocks There are a series of infrastructure components and corporate technology standards that are identified in the IT Strategy 9, which are required to support the vision. These include: Contact Management / CRM systems Knowledge Management systems Document Image Processing / Document Management systems Staff Portal Call Centre Telephone system Web Site and Intranet Contact Management/ CRM The existing Customer First Software, that provides basic CRM functionality is currently being re-written by the in-house development team. This new Contact Management solution, which has an expected go live date in 1 st quarter 2005 will provide functionality for the recording and tracking of citizens and business enquiries across all delivery channels. In addition to the core contact management and tracking functionality, the following additional features will also be available: Channel integration/ Presentation layer Will provide customised views for different groups of users and channels (e.g. Customer First front end, Contact Centre Front end, back office front end) Simple workflow and process management tools to route work items to users responsible for completing them. Reporting to enable data to be extracted from the system and presented and manipulated in different views as specified by the users. Integration Based on volumes of transactions the CRM system will initially fully integrate with the new Confirm refuse system, Complaints system, Symology highways system and Pericles Housing benefits with others being scheduled later in the year. To be effective both front and back office staff must use and update the CRM system. Only by doing this, can the system then successfully track and report on customer transactions, and produce meaningful customer histories and performance data. 9 I.T. Strategy Presented to ET in October 2004

9 Knowledge Management Systems Knowledge Management tools are necessary to provide access to information required to respond to enquiries quickly and accurately, while minimising training times. They include: Internet/intranet based information repository that provides a single source of up to date, accurate information about the council and its partner services. (e.g. A to Z of Services) On-line contacts directory Electronic Forums to provide information exchange and discussion. Whilst many of these functions are already well established within the organisation, an opportunity to further develop and improve in this key area has arisen. The e-innovation project funded by the ODPM, will enable Tameside to work with the LSP and specifically, New Charter Housing and Tameside College to develop and further exploit this kind of technology. Document Image Processing and Document Management Systems The use of as the corporate Document Management (DM) and Document Image processing (DIP) system will allow documents to be scanned, stored electronically and then made available across all mediated delivery channels. Contact Centre Telephony Requirements A system capable of supporting functionality including Automated Call Distribution (ACD), Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), Interactive Voice Response (IVR) as well as call recording is required. It will need to function across service areas and geographical locations, providing a single umbrella technology to support all service delivery via the telephone. 6. Common Processes Hand off Points Effective hand-off points are critical to the functioning of all areas dealing with customer enquiries and service requests. Clearly defined hand-off points will ensure the transfer of work between the front and back office is effective and a clear distinction between front office and back office responsibilities is made. There are three primary hand-off methods. These are: One & Done These enquiries can be resolved at the first point of contact and no further escalations are required. This will apply to the vast majority of enquiries from both face-to-face, Internet and telephone channels. The level of interaction between the front and back office is one of the following: o No interaction e.g. All information was provided through the Intranet/ Internet. o Front Office has the back office system installed on their desktop e.g. Pericles. o Front Office has access to the back office system via the CRM system which is integrated into the back office system e.g. Refuse Fire and Forget The enquiry cannot be resolved at the first point of contact, and requires escalation to a specialist in the subject area. The enquiry is passed over to the appropriate back office, no further action is required by the front office, and from their point of view the enquiry is complete. Customer Advocate The enquiry cannot be resolved at the first point of contact, and requires escalation to a specialist in the subject area. The enquiry is passed over to the appropriate back office. The enquiry is still tracked by the front office, which monitors progress, ensuring it is completed within satisfactory timescales, and keeps the customer informed. The enquiry is not considered complete by the front office until the completely resolved.

10 For each transaction being dealt with by the mediated channels, the method and point of hand-off must be determined within the agreed common process. This was highlighted as a key issue within the recommendations of the BT Call Centre review. 7. People Skills and Staff Training The only way to protect investment in the kinds of technology required to support the effective delivery of a customer facing service is to ensure adequate investment in staff training has been factored in. This does not simply mean important training on the use of systems such as CRM. It is also vital that resources are invested into improving people s soft skills such as customer care. It also requires the development a working environment that encourages staff to take ownership of problems and become empowered to resolve them. It is therefore important that we embark on a systematic customer care training programme for all front line staff. As a minimum, each staff member should attain the ICS Bronze standard, with Team Leaders and Managers going for Silver and or Gold. This will help to protect the investment and will help to ensure the people perspective of this strategy delivers. Each of the mediated delivery channels will have Customer Service Standards, and Service Charters in place, which sets out how customers can expect to be treated, and the levels of service that customers can expect when using that channel. Examples for Customer First, Call Centre and Libraries are attached as appendix 2 and Branding and Marketing Whilst Customer First, In Touch Tameside and the council s website have already strong recognisable branding, with corporate uniforms, colours and a common look and feel the different names can be confusing to customer. It is therefore important that this situation is reviewed to bring all the service delivery channels into a common theme and branding style. Through marketing it is important that the public understands how the new Customer Contact Centre differs from a traditional call centre, and appreciates the improved levels of service it will deliver. It will also be an opportunity to include the Business First Initiative into the common branding family. 9. Recommendations current branding and marketing for all aspects and channels of the customer contacts service with view to producing a single common theme. Develop the Business First concept, working within the council and its partners to deliver single points of contact for business customers Subject to a successful capital bid, replace the existing call centre with a modern, distributed customer contact service in line with the recommendations from the BT review. Introduce a comprehensive and systematic training program to up-skill all front line staff with appropriate customer care skills. Adopt corporate use of the Customer Relationship Management software in all dealings with the public and business.

11 Appendix 1- Call Centre improvement action plan Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome Dec 04 CCIP1 Develop contact and channel strategy CCIP1.1 CCIP1.2 CCIP1.3 CCIP1.4 CCIP1.5 Identify and secure capital and revenue funding for project. Develop marketing campaign around channel strategy. Obtain high level officer and political support for new approach to customer contact centres and specialist contact centres. Build on existing work to introduce a common customer satisfaction survey and mystery shopping across all channels. ICT structure required to deliver the model. Tim Rainey Nicola Smith Tim Rainey Tim Rainey Nicola Smith Document clearly setting out the Vision for dealing with all types of contact to the council. Including tel, face to face, Internet, SMS, and written. Ensure finances for the roll out of improvement plan are in place. Raise awareness and expectations of service delivery options via different channels. Tim Rainey Ensure corporate backing for the project and commitment from within back office services to resource and manage to required levels. Identify clear baseline as to existing levels of service and satisfaction, then use to monitor progress as project rolls out. Tim Rainey Ensure ICT structure will support all contact channels and telephony system. QUARTERLY REVIEW Mar 04 Jun 04 Sept 05

12 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome Dec 04 CCIP2 Introduce a dedicated switchboard function. Split the switchboard function away from the main Call Centre function. CCIP2.1 Develop service design. Clearly identify the purpose of the service and the expectations of its levels of delivery. CCIP2.2 Proc Tech CCIP2.3 HR CCIP2.4 Marketing CCIP2.5 Marketing CCIP2.6 Proc Tech CCIP3 CCIP3.1 Marketing Identify and purchase suitable equipment for operators. Identify staffing levels required and recruit appropriate staff into post. Market new service on existing 8355 number. ongoing support for internal telephone directory enquiries ( dial 0) Introduce Music on hold, and queue messages whilst calls on hold. Introduce dedicated Customer Contact Centre. Agree new name and new tel. Number for service. Frank O Neil Installation of dedicated operator consoles supporting the specific switchboard function. Properly resourced and suitably skilled operator team. Ensure internal and external customers aware of changes to service. Reduce internal traffic to switchboard for low value calls. Frank O Neill Tim Rainey Tim Rainey Reduce incidents of customers hanging up whilst waiting to be transferred/put through. Suitably resourced and skilled customer contact centre with a clear purpose. Identify a strong product branding for the new service. QUARTERLY REVIEW Mar 04 June 04 Sept 05

13 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome Dec 04 CCIP3.2 Agree and secure 10 x golden A pool of readily numbers for high volume and Frank O Neill recognisable numbers to be specialist use services. used as suitable services CCIP3.3 Proc Tech CCIP3.4 Tech CCIP3.5 Proc Tech CCIP3.6 Proc Tech CCIP3.7 Proc Tech CCIP3.8 CCIP3.9 Identify and procure call centre telephone system to support day to day operation of main centre, virtual call centre functionality (Local to TAC and remote) and specialist centres. Develop and implement CRM software to support call centre function and provide statistics. Introduce call recording and monitoring system. Introduce Music on hold, and queue messages whilst calls on hold. Introduce skill based call routing. Develop service design for each individual service. Draw up SLAs and clearly define the front/back office split. Frank O Neill Nicola Smith Frank O Neill Frank O Neill as identified. Dedicated call centre system supporting new ways of working and providing management statistics and PI s. Single CRM system supporting all mediated access channels. Ability to record and re-play calls for training and QA. Reduce incidents of customers hanging up whilst waiting to be transferred/put through. Improve call resolution rates by directing calls to most appropriate/skilled agent. Clearly identify the purpose of the service and the expectations of its level of delivery. Clearly identify the level of service delivery for each design model. QUARTERLY REVIEW Mar 04 June 04 Sept 05

14 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome June 04 CCIP3.10 Marketing Tim Rainey CCIP3.11 Culture CCIP3.12 CCIP3.13 Culture CCIP3.14 Culture CCIP4 Culture Develop a successful Marketing Campaign to raise awareness of the new service using new Contact Centre number and Golden numbers as appropriate. Investigate Increasing Call Centre opening hours outside normal office hours. staffing levels and work times including the use of virtual agents from Customer First. Investigate potential impact and usage of pro-active calling from Contact Centre. Investigate staff rotation within contact centre and customer first. Improve culture, environment and competency within the call centre, Emergency Control and Switchboard Ensure internal and external customers aware of changes to service. Provide a service that is available outside normal hours and thus more convenient to customers. Match staffing levels to incoming call volumes and provide additional resources to cover extended opening hours. The service can be used promote council services and chase outstanding debt, truants etc. esp out of normal hours. Increase staff awareness and competency across different channels, leading to a more flexible work force capable of meeting demand in different disciplines. Improved customer care, improved relationships with back office and happier workforce. QUARTERLY REVIEW Sep 04 Dec 04 Mar 05

15 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome June 04 CCIP4.1 Carry out staff motivation Identify and baseline survey across all elements of current levels of staff the service. satisfaction. CCIP4.2 CCIP4.3 CCIP4.4 CCIP4.5 CCIP5 CCIP5.1 Develop customer champion/liaison roles with key back offices. Develop team and inter-team building. staff and manager competencies. Introduce reward and recognition scheme. Identify best practice already in use across organisation and Develop operational model for Specialist Contact Centres. current specialist centres and identify potential new areas. Improve communications and working practices with key back office functions Improve moral and effectiveness in individual areas and between CF, switchboard, contact centre and emergency control. Identify strengths and weaknesses in existing establishment and link to development, training, mentoring and competency program. Value staff and increase motivation levels. Linda Kemp Production of clear Service design and clarify relationship with main contact centre. Produce plan where centres using Golden numbers are required. QUARTERLY REVIEW Sep 04 Dec 04 Mar 05

16 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome June 04 CCIP5.2 Investigate appropriate call Implement telephone, CRM centre technology to support Frank O Neill and other supporting function and links with main Nicola Smith technologies including call centre. recording, mgmt statistics and music on hold into CCIP5.3 CCIP6 CCIP6.1 CCIP6.2 Tech Implement appropriate use of ACD and Golden Numbers. Incorporate existing Emergency Control function into the Contact Centre Family of services Move existing Service from Community Support into Community and IT Services Investigate appropriate call centre technology to support function and links with main centre. Frank O Neill Tim Rainey Tim Rainey Frank O Neill Nicola Smith specialist centres. Ensure customer experience of contacting the council is not over complex. To provide a seamless contact service with 24 hour support. Bring Emergency Control into same management structure as existing Call Centre and Customer First services. Implement telephone, CRM and other supporting technologies including call recording, mgmt statistics and music on hold into specialist centres. QUARTERLY REVIEW Sep 04 Dec 04 Mar 05

17 Ref. Action By When Key Officer Risk Planned Outcome June 04 CCIP6.3 Culture Investigate staff rotation within contact centre and Emergency Control Increase staff awareness and competency across different channels, leading to a more flexible work force capable of meeting demand in different disciplines and increasing ability of Emergency Control staff to deliver added value services. CCIP6.4 Develop service design. Clearly identify the purpose of the service and the expectations of its level of delivery. QUARTERLY REVIEW Sep 04 Dec 04 Mar 05

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