Customer Service Excellence Standards

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1 Customer Service Excellence Standards

2 EAST HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL and HAVANT BOROUGH COUNCIL Customer Service Excellence Standards Every member of staff should be Customer Service Professionals The partnership five point pledge: Caring is the foundation of our commitment to fulfil a personal responsibility to deliver Customer Service Excellence We strive to anticipate our customers' needs and provide a personalised, reliable service and continuously aspire to take ownership for customer satisfaction We take pride in our work and seek to continually improve our customers' experience We treat our customers with dignity and respect and look to demonstrate a high regard for their points of view and listen to what they have to say We work as a team to deliver Customer Service Excellence in all that we do. How we relate to our many and diverse customers is a crucial part of our overall service delivery. A positive customer experience is an important part of how we aspire to our mission statements to improve people s lives [EHDC] and make our environment cleaner safer and more prosperous [HBC]. Customer Insight is a very important process of knowing what our customers priorities are rather than presuming. Knowing what our customer actually want means that we deliver a service that suits their needs rather than expecting the customer to adapt to the business needs of the partnership. Designing a service to fit our customer using insight and linking to all services the council provides will review and shape processes making sure we are providing excellent and efficient services that suit our customers needs. Not to focus on saving money at the expense of a positive customer experience but to develop services that are fit for purpose, reduce waste, duplication, repeated customer contact, by getting it right first time.

3 The standards: Is about everybody in the organisation not just front line staff States: Public Service organisations need to be customer focused Recognises: Customer needs are the starting point for designing, delivering and evaluating service Identifies: Key drivers to improve the quality of the services we deliver to our customers How do the new standards fit together? Customer Insight The culture of the organisations Information and access Delivery (do we do what we say we will do and how do we measure that?) Timeliness, quality of service, and training Customer Insight Develop a profile of your main customer groups and their characteristics and how they wish to be communicated with. Segmentation this is your customer base within that is different groups so what are they? And what are their characteristics that make them different? How do you tailor your service to these different groups? Understand their needs/ understand how your customers are grouped They could be grouped in different ways. Have a strategy to keep this updated, and make sure we don t miss what their needs are. Show how you have responded to the hard to reach groups/ overlooked groups? How do you reach out to those that don t want to access your service (teenagers?). How have you engaged and consulted customers? Show how your services have improved, it s important that we show the way we did it and how they met the needs of the customer

4 Customer Insight: Past, Present, Future (PPF) Knowing your customer Knowing all your customer needs, PPF Strategically building your service around their needs Sharing your knowledge Customer Journey Mapping: Its about the entire experience beginning to end Ensuring consistency of service Sharing customer information where necessary Follow up Special needs Staff must be aware that some customers have particular or special needs. For example, they may have a disability or illness that affects communication, English may not be their first language, or there may be cultural factors that need to be taken into account. Staff must help people with special needs to receive a good service from the council for example, by presenting information in an alternative format, such as large print or verbally, or by helping a customer complete an application form. A special service for people who need to communicate with us via a translator is available via Language Line, an easy-to-use service to which the council subscribes. More information on using Language Line is available on the intranet, the Customer Service Centre s, or on the posters in the interview rooms.

5 Visitors The Customer Service Centre has a range of service standards for how we interact with visitors at both authorities. These include greeting visitors within 5 minutes, and always providing friendly, helpful, complete and accurate information. When arranging meetings with people from outside of the councils, inform the Customer Service Centre s so that all passes and paperwork will be completed on time and customers feel welcome as their arrival was expected. All visitors who access secured areas of both authorities must be signed in and wear a visitor s badge at all times. When a pre-arranged visitor arrives, the Customer Service Centre s will inform the relevant member of staff, who will personally collect and greet the visitor and escort him/her to the meeting. CSC staff will not escort visitors around the building. Members of staff who meet visitors or use the Reception/ Plaza areas will be dressed appropriately to give a positive and professional impression. Telephones Phone calls should be answered within three rings. A ringing telephone should be answered even if its not your phone, take a message with good contact details for your colleague to return the call when they are back in the office. External calls must be answered including the following: Good morning/afternoon. East Hampshire District Council/ Havant Borough Council John Smith or X Service. External phone calls take priority over internal conversations. When a staff member is not available, phone calls should first be picked up by another team member, particularly if the number is for a front line customer service; voic is a last resort. Staff must take ownership of calls. This means, making sure some positive action takes place. For example, making sure that the other extension can deal with the issue before transferring it, if transferring is necessary.

6 Voic Applications to use voic must be approved by the Executive Head of Service for officers with a genuine need i.e. if no other team member is available. Existing voic users must re-apply by to their Executive Head of Service for approval, who will then inform the Customer Manager by . Voic messages must be updated daily with the following phrase: You have reached the voic of John Smith in East Hampshire District Council s/ Havant Borough Council s XX team on Monday, 4th September. I am sorry that I am not available right now. Please leave a message and I will get back to you when I return. For planned absences, phones should be diverted to another available officer. If no one else can deal with callers during the absences, the following voic message may be used: You have reached the voic of John Smith at East Hampshire District Council/ Havant Borough Council. I am sorry that I will not be available until Monday, 19th September. Dial xxx to speak to someone else in the X team, or leave a message and I will get back to you when I return. Voic messages must be returned as soon as possible. They can be retrieved externally. Please ensure that you have the right instructions for your handset and make yourself familiar, if unsure then contact the CSC and they will advise you accordingly

7 Written communications Responses to all written communications from customers (letters, s, faxes, etc.) should be sent as soon as possible and, in any case, within 3 working days. Customers who use expect a faster initial response, so an acknowledgement should be sent within 1 working day. If a full reply cannot be sent within 3 working days, an acknowledgement must be sent within those 3 working days, and then a full reply within 10 working days from the date of receiving the customer s communication. If, for a serious reason, a full reply cannot be sent within that timeframe, the customer must be kept informed. These standards do not apply to junk mail, but note that Freedom of Information Act requests may sometimes look like junk mail as they may be in the form of a standard letter sent to many organisations. The corporate font for letters is Arial 12 point. Letters and s must use the relevant corporate signature style. Written communications must be as jargon-free as possible and in plain, straightforward language. If technical or legal phrases need to be used they must be explained clearly. Plain language training can be arranged through the Customer Manager. Standard letters must be checked for plain language and personalised as far as possible. Information on how to check letters with the Plain Language Commission is available from Written communications must be polite and should be positive and constructive as far as possible. Consider how the communication will be received by the customer, whether it will result in further unnecessary correspondence and whether this can be prevented by providing more complete information in a positive tone. Do not make excuses or blame another person or organisation; present an honest and positive image of the Council. Apologise if necessary. Please follow the link to Tips on Letter writing All written communications should be re-read before sending. Have you explained 1) what you are doing, 2) how you are doing it, 3) what is your conclusion, add any supporting documents and check for clarity, spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG). and Word spell-checks may be used, but note that these are not fool proof. Templates can be accessed by going to

8 External s should be as formal and professional as letters. Avoid words in capital letters or bold letters as this is often understood to indicate anger or shouting. Note that any (internal or external) may be disclosed publicly in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act. Faxes must be typed, not hand-written, and accompanied by a completed cover sheet according to the corporate standard. When away from the office for more than one day, incoming s must be either diverted to or collected by a colleague so that the appropriate acknowledgement may be sent and action taken. If out-of-office assistant is used then you must advise the sender that you may not be able to reply to their and give an alternative contact with full contact details. You should ensure that you have a return date so that the sender is aware when you are due to be back and may be able to respond to a non urgent request. Your out-of-office message must not alert the sender that you maybe away from home so consider a message that is simple and tells the sender you are away from your desk. If you are responding to a request for information regarding FOI, EIR or Data Protection then you must contact the legal team for more in depth information, or follow the link We will have 20 working days in which to give a full response. We will write to you to: acknowledge your request say whether a fee is required to provide the information requested ask for more details if required let you know of any reason your request may be refused or if any of the information you have requested falls under exemptions give a timescale for completing your request if that information cannot be provided immediatly or if a third party must be consulted Where information can be disclosed, we will normally provide you with a copy of the information or a summary, or let you inspect our records. If we do not hold the information requested, we may be able to transfer your request to another public authority that does.

9 Environmental Information If the information you request relates to the environment, it will be handled in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Social Networks We will reply to a comment on Face book and or Twitter within 24 hours; however it is more likely that we will need to respond to the customers comments directly so we would ask the customer to message us with an address so we can respond to them personally. The message would read I will contact you directly to respond to your concern' within 24 hours, and then revert to normal SLA's (Service Level Agreements) to get back to the customer. Complaints The council s current complaints process is summarised by the following standards on the website: We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three days We will aim to resolve the majority of complaints within ten days We will advise you of progress if we need to exceed this time We will take appropriate action to put the matter right We will apologise if there has been a failure in service provision We will assure you that we will take steps to make sure that our failure does not happen again. Best practice when investigating complaints will be to follow the PEACE model: Planning and preparation Engage and explain Account Closure Evaluation. When writing your response or when discussing with the complainant these will be good points to factor into your interview or formal reply. The process includes escalation within the council and to the Local Government Ombudsman.

10 The comments IT system has been modified to accommodate Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act requests. The Customer Access Group will train new members of staff in using the comments system. The system must be used across the partnership for: All comments and complaints about how the Council has delivered services or responded to service requests Requests for information that cannot be dealt with straight away or require escalation to another staff member in these cases the appropriate FOI/EIR/DP part of the online form must be completed. The system is not used for requests for service that are monitored in other ways, e.g. notifications of missed bins. Monitoring These corporate Customer Excellence standards will be maintained and monitored as follows: The call logger will be set to generate appropriate reports for service managers The voic automatic system divert will be removed Voic greeting messages will be periodically checked by the Customer Manager and or Customer Service Centre Team Leaders; breaches of the standards will be reported to the staff member concerned in the first instance, and to the Service Manager and the corporate Customer Manager in the second instance. If three complaints are received about voic misuse, voic will be suspended and the Executive Head of Service will be informed for them to decide on re-approval The Customer Access Group will check standard letters for plain language The Customer Access Group will plan a programme of mystery shopper exercises to check adherence to letter and standards JMT and Executive Service Heads will stress the importance of using the corporate comments system and the Customer Access Group will monitor its use The corporate comments system will generate regular, quarterly reports that will be reported to JMT Results on our performance will be published regularly, for example in our annual Performance Plan, quarterly monitoring information and Partners/Serving You magazines

11 The corporate Customer Manager will have overall responsibility for monitoring the standards and, with the Customer Access Group, will review them periodically. Training These corporate Customer Excellence standards will be reached and maintained through training as follows: Skills audits on telephony standards Face-to-Face Respect Training (Caron Ransom) How to handle complaints How to use the customer complaints system, and how to notice trends that can lead to service improvements Customer Care would you want to be served by you? The training will be monitored and measured in your appraisals and one-to-one s.

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