Customer Service Improvement Strategy

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1 Customer and Community Scrutiny Committee Report Report of Head of Business Systems Author: Steve Wragge-Morley Tel: Lead Councillor responsible: Councillor Stephen Mansbridge Tel: Date: 14 May 2013 Customer Service Improvement Strategy Recommendation That the Committee considers and critically evaluates the proposed Customer Service Improvement Strategy and the associated support documents and submits their comments for consideration at the Executive on 29 May. Reason(s) for Recommendation: To ensure that the views of the Committee are represented in any decision on the adoption and delivery of the proposed Customer Service Improvement Strategy. 1. Purpose of Report 1.1 This report introduces the Customer Service Improvement Strategy and asks the Customer and Community Scrutiny Committee to evaluate the proposed Customer Service Improvement Strategy. The report shows the strategy is a corporate implementation with significant implications for customer facing services across the Council. A number of questions are raised in the body of the report to assist the committee in their evaluation. The adoption of the strategy is a key decision for the Council. 2. Strategic Priorities 2.1 The Customer Service Improvement Strategy supports several strategic priorities including Excellence and Value for money, providing efficient, cost-effective and relevant quality public services. The strategy has three specific targets that reflect this priority: to give the best possible standard of service to develop the most efficient, customer oriented services to deliver the best value for money to our customers. 2.2 The strategy business case shows significant on-going savings. 2.3 The strategy supports many of our key delivery targets, in particular the following: achieve Customer Service Excellence recognition for the whole Council (we achieved this in 2011, but the strategy shows how we will maintain it). 1

2 transform provision of our services through the Better Place, Better Council programme. keep Council Tax rises below inflation through balanced budgets. 3. Background and Overview 3.1 In October 2010, the Executive gave approval to establish a Customer Service Centre. This centre would manage most telephone, face-to-face and electronic contacts across public facing services. As the centre is now established and developing, we identified the need to create a Customer Service Improvement Strategy to steer further development of customer services across the Council and guide the use of this service. 3.2 Appended to this report are five documents: the Customer Service Improvement Strategy, a business case, a conceptual plan for Millmead reception, a summary delivery plan and an equalities impact screening. The following sections provide information on these documents. 4. Customer Service Improvement Strategy 4.1 This strategy will help ensure that we deliver consistently excellent customer service across all our services. This means we will put people first when we design and deliver services. To achieve this, we will make customer service a corporate provision, enabling improved and consistent customer service that is inclusive, easy to access, high quality, cost effective and makes best use of modern technology. 4.2 The strategy will deliver the following outcomes: easy public access to quality customer services consistent, high quality customer services across the Council a fully functional corporate customer service centre simple and inclusive access to customer services, improved by best use of technology customer services shifted 1 to the most appropriate and cost effective service channels 2 a clear view of the quality and volume of customer service cost savings achieved for customer service across the Council professionals empowered to support all levels of customer service working with partners to provide seamless services. 1 Channel shift results from moving a process from one service channel, for example face-to-face to a different service channel such as telephony or web services. A saving is made where service is automated, becomes self-service or reduces the number of contacts. 2 Service channels or contact channels are simply the method used to interact with the Council such as face-to-face, telephone or web. 2

3 4.3 The strategy: guides the delivery of consistently excellent customer service across all services describes the transformation of customer services over the next two to three years and the benefits to customers and services includes information about the quality, value and volume of service we deliver describes the deployment of automated services and supporting systems and the return on investment we expect as a result. 4.4 The strategy proposes the further development of the corporate customer service centre (CSC), based at Millmead, to provide the majority of customer contact for services. Alongside this work, it proposes rearrangement and improvement of Millmead reception (see appended concept plan). The changes to reception link to proposals to improve meeting spaces on the ground floor of Millmead, the Civic Suite and delivery arrangements. Our partners located at Millmead will also benefit from improved reception facilities. 4.5 The strategy describes six themes for customer service improvement delivered through the identified action areas. Culture changing the way we work. Engaging with customers providing wide access while encouraging efficiency. Information Management keeping information safe but available. Service Delivery designing the best processes and measuring our success. Digital Services making the best use of technology. Service Continuity ensuring services are always available. 4.6 The strategy explains how we will change our currently discrete services to our customers to a single customer focussed service. We also describe how we will deliver a wide range of services seamlessly through multiple service channels. Achieving this corporate strategy requires collaboration and support by all services and their leadership. 4.7 The strategy describes the systems we will deploy to support customer service. These focus around a customer relationship management (CRM) system to hold customer information and details of our transactions with customers. This system will also provide reporting on activity. 4.8 Question Does the strategy adequately make the case to radically change our customer service model to a multi-channel corporate service? 5. Business case 5.1 The business case describes the strategy s benefits to the Council. It discusses three areas from which benefits will come. 3

4 a) A corporate service we will use the customer service centre to resolve the majority of customer services. We will improve processes and reduce contact to improve the quality of service. b) Channel shift we will maximise our use of the most efficient channels for transactional services. We will provide our customers with greater choice, availability and accessibility to our services. c) Automation we will use technology to support customer services and channel shift, enabling staff to work efficiently. 5.2 The business case provides information on the volume of customer contact, and the cost and return on investment of delivering the strategy. The investment required includes a combination of invest-to-save and IT Renewals funding. This will bring the one-off expenditure to 375,000 with annual savings rising to around 500,000 from 2015/16, resulting from moving transactions to cheaper contact channels and subsequent staff savings. 5.3 Question does the business case provide sufficient evidence that the financial model is robust? 5.4 Question does the business case provide confidence that the strategy will deliver both service and financial benefits to the public? 6. Delivery Plan Overview 6.1 The action areas identified under the six themes for customer service improvement will deliver the strategy. The delivery plan overview describes, at a high level, the work we will undertake. We are developing a more detailed plan with many more specific actions linking into other programmes of work, such as the ICT Strategy, web development and information management plans. The detailed plan will guide the delivery of the strategy. 6.2 The overview shows the following planned work to deliver the strategy. Communications plan we will provide clear and targeted communications so we all understand the purpose, outcomes and work involved in delivering the strategy. Develop systems we will provide improved business systems to support customer service. Accommodation we will provide an accessible, safe and good quality environment for our customers and visitors at Millmead. Information management we will manage information securely and enable access to improve our customer service. Integration describes how we will take to integrate services into the Customer Service Centre. Working with partners we will work with our colleagues across public service to provide better customer services. Service continuity we will reduce risks and plan to keep customer services available. 4

5 6.3 Question is it clear from the delivery plan overview how we will successfully implement the strategy? 7. Millmead reception concept plan 7.1 The appended concept plan shows the facilities we are planning for an improved public reception at Millmead House. The plan shows how we are dedicating areas of the ground floor at Millmead to customer service and meeting spaces. The provision for customers includes an improved reception and waiting area, new interview rooms for private discussions, service pods where staff can assist customers in a more open environment, information displays, self-service facilities and staff accommodation for the customer service centre. We will create a modern environment dedicated to customer service. We are also including accessible meeting rooms and an improved delivery arrangement to improve public safety. We will provide good signage, easy to use facilities and improved access. We have separated staff and public access for the first time at Millmead. The plan is not a final design, but is included to better illustrate the proposal. 7.2 Question is it clear that the proposed facilities at Millmead will justify the expenditure and provide an improved service? 8. Equality Impact Screening 8.1 We have completed an equalities impact screening for the Customer Service Improvement Strategy. There are no identified differential or adverse impacts arising from adopting the strategy. We have identified improvements in access to services both through the remodelled reception with better facilities and signage. Putting our public meeting spaces on the ground floor will improve disabled access. Similarly, the better design of processes and customer services reducing complexity and the number of contacts required to receive a service, will make it easier for all customers to receive our services. We will make best use of modern technology to provide out of hours access to some services via our web services or telephony systems and this will improve access to the public. 8.2 Question does the strategy genuinely improve equality for our customers and minimise negative impacts on different groups of customers? 9. Financial Implications 9.1 The investment required includes a combination of invest to save and IT Renewals funding. We are seeking an additional expenditure of 150,000, funded from invest to save, to make changes to Millmead reception. The availability of this funding is subject to contributions to the invest-to-save fund as part of 2012/13 closing. This will bring the one-off expenditure to 375,000 with annual savings rising to around 500,000 from 2015/16 resulting from moving transactions to cheaper contact channels and subsequent staff savings. 10. Legal Implications 10.1 There are no legal implications to this proposal. It is noted that any procurement activity arising from the changes to the reception area will be undertaken in accordance with the Council s Procurement Procedure Rules. 5

6 11. Human Resource Implications 11.1 The implementation of the Customer Service Improvement Strategy will generate an estimated reduction of around 20 FTE staff across the services. This will result from a combination of automation, self-service, channel shift, process improvements and staff utilisation changes. Staffing costs are the major part of the cost of most customer services and this reduction provides the identified savings. It equates to less than two full time equivalent staff per service. It is not possible at this stage to identify how this affects individuals or services as the process will evolve as we integrate services into the Customer Service Centre. We will undertake appropriate communications and consultations with staff and follow the agreed human resources processes throughout the work to develop the Customer Service Centre. The changes will occur over the next two to three years Question does the strategy show that we can provide a better service with fewer staff? 12. Conclusion 12.1 The proposed Customer Service Improvement Strategy will lead the improvement of customer service across the Council s services over the next three years. The strategy: places our customers first in our design of service delivery brings together council services into a corporate customer service centre to benefit our customers supports best practice in customer service and is in line with other public services makes best use of technology, automation and supports future change in service delivery is aligned with the Council s strategic objectives delivers significant savings This strategy is for our customers. We will use it to deliver customer service excellence and good value. 13. Background Papers 13.1 Executive report Development of a Customer Service Centre - 21 October Appendices Appendix 1. The Customer Service Improvement Strategy Appendix 2. Customer Service Improvement Strategy Business Case Appendix 3. Delivery plan overview Appendix 4. Millmead reception concept plan Appendix 5. Equality Impact Screening 30/4/13 6

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