3. Our Improvement Plan Building the Customer Relationship Expanding the One Stop Shop Approach 8

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1 Scarborough Borough Council APPENDIX 1 Transforming our Customer Experience 1 July 2009

2 Contents Section Pages 1. Introduction 4 2. Where are we now? Customer Service Standards 2.2. Access to Services 3. Our Improvement Plan 6 4. Building the Customer Relationship 7 5. Expanding the One Stop Shop Approach 8 6. Improving access to services and channel choice 9 7. Increasing partnership working Getting the best from new Technology Training and developing our People Appendix 1 Customer Charter Appendix 2 Our Contact Details, Opening Hours and Service Standards

3 TRANSFORMING OUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN SCARBOROUGH BOROUGH 1

4 1. Introduction Our Vision is to achieve the renaissance of the North Yorkshire Coast by 2020 and this is supported by our Mission to enhance the quality of life for those living in, working in, or visiting the borough, by providing value for money services, consulting people and putting them first. Our Vision and Mission are underpinned by our Corporate Plan, Delivering Success. Within this plan are 5 key aims and 5 values: Our key aims: Developing safer and stronger communities Building prosperous communities Creating healthy and vibrant communities Creating quality environments Improving the Council Our values: Looking after the well-being of the Borough Putting Customers First Treating People fairly Valuing colleagues Conducting business with honesty and integrity This document identifies our approach to transforming Customer Services to support the delivery of our key aims and priorities. 2

5 2. Where are we now? 2.1. Customer Service Standards There are pockets of service excellence within the Council but overall a considerable culture change is required to deliver a consistently improved Customer experience that meets our aspirations and Corporate Plan. When we receive comments or complaints these are not always answered in a timely manner, and often what starts as a simple issue escalates to a complaint. A review of responses to Customers show they are often grammatically poor, inflammatory, and full of jargon or read as excuses rather than a statement of fact. Requests for service are logged but action can be delayed without keeping the Customer informed resulting in avoidable contacts, as the Customer attempts to get progress reports, resulting in a poor Customer experience and dissatisfaction with the service. Some service areas are reluctant to speak to Customers or call them back resulting in the Customer remaining with Customer First, while other Customers wait to get through. This can also result in avoidable contacts as the Customer has to contact the Council a number of times. This scenario is replicated when dealing with internal Customers, promises not kept, s not actioned or answered and calls not returned. Our Elected Members have recently highlighted the problems they experience through lack of response to queries Access to Services Current face to face access is with Customer First shops in Eastfield, Filey, Scarborough and Whitby where there is a good choice for Customers but opening times are limited with the earliest opening time 0830 and latest closing time Our Customer first Contact Centre is also available during the same hours with contact by a single number Customer feedback suggests at least one late night and Saturday morning opening would be welcomed. We understand that quality services need to be delivered in ways and times that are convenient to Customers rather than the traditional patterns of service delivery during office hours. In addition we offer no face to face access points in smaller rural communities. Our 24/7 channel choice is limited to and a modest self service offering via our website but not by telephone. 3

6 3. Our Improvement Plan In order to build on our pockets of service excellence, embed these across the whole council and engage with our Customers we will do the following: Build the Customer relationship Expand the One Stop Shop approach Improve access to services and channel choice Increase partnership working to streamline access to key public services Maximise use of appropriate technology Train and develop our people to deliver service excellence Implementing new technologies, improving and expanding access times to services, increasing access channels and training our people to equip them with the right skills all come at a cost. However, there are considerable efficiency gains to offset this investment and achieve cashable savings by getting it right first time, reducing avoidable contacts to a minimum and increasing Customer satisfaction. This will also impact positively on our people reducing absence and turnover rates and most important of all ensure our people are empowered and motivated to provide a truly memorable experience for our Customers, delivering best in class satisfaction levels with Council services. We know that on average the cost of delivering a face to face service costs 12, an assisted telephone service 4.50 and self service via the web or telephone 0.17p. So we will develop a greater self service capability to enable us to actively encourage Customers to move to accessing services through more cost effective channels, reducing our costs of delivery and increasing our 24/7 offering. 4

7 4. Building the Customer Relationship Research shows that provision of identified service standards ensures both Customers and our people have a clear understanding of what is expected from a service and that this is a key factor for improving Customer satisfaction. Clear well publicised service standards help to build trust between the Council and its Customers. Therefore we will publish our Customer Charter (Appendix 1) and display it prominently in all our Customer first shops and on our website. Alongside our Charter will be 3 key information leaflets: Where, when and how to contact us and our service standards the promises we are making to our Customers (Appendix 2) Let us Know encouraging Customers to engage with us through compliments, comments and complaints A Customer First satisfaction survey This core information will be consistently branded and displayed to ensure easy recognition by Customers. In addition we will display our Just Ask posters which will extend our promise to giving as a minimum response a commitment to accurately signpost Customers to all our North Yorkshire partner services. We are currently in the process of procuring a system that will enable Customers to routinely tell us how they rate our service delivery, whenever and wherever they contact us. Customers will have a choice as to how and when they fill in the satisfaction questionnaires including a touch screen facility in Customer First offices. This will deliver us vital management information not least to readily identify areas where contact was avoidable, enabling us to put in place action plans to rectify and improve service delivery. When we receive feedback from Customers we will consider what they are saying, act appropriately and regularly publish a you said, we did communication, highlighting where we have used feedback to change and improve. By using feedback in this way Customer experience will be a driver for evidence based decision making, putting customers needs and preferences at the heart of our service delivery. Our Customer Insight Forum will provide this focus on Customers by coordinating all Customer feedback and cascading it to service areas to guide their business planning process. To achieve this every service area will have a nominated person (Head of Service, Service Unit Manager or nominated delegate) who will provide a Customer Champion role, ensuring excellent Customer Service is not just a frontline responsibility. Finally, we will look to taking part in the Institute of Customer Service, National Customer Service Week from 5 th 11 th October. 5

8 5. Expanding our One Stop Shop Approach In order to achieve this we need to identify services that we can deliver from Customer First enabling Customer enquiries to be answered by a single person, in a single call, without referral. We have a programme of implementation for expanding the services available in this one stop shop approach. We will be migrating services into Customer First starting with those services that have high call volumes. The migration process will involve reviewing each service delivery journey and streamlining it to avoid double handling or duplication, automating tasks and integrating IT systems. Wherever possible we will also be building the self service provision of these services to provide access to services on a 24/7 basis. The Customer First team will work with the service to fully understand what is to be migrated, how and when this will happen, what training will be required and information needed to successfully deal with calls at first point of contact. Another step to build the understanding of the service in Customer First is for Customer First Advisors to take Service Specific Qualifications (SSQ s). This comprises initial training and assessment and ongoing refresher courses that equip a member of the Customer First team to deliver a specialised service. This involves the Advisors working within the service to pick up the required expertise. An SSQ pilot, working with the Housing Options team, is currently underway and we have 2 Customer First Advisors working with the Housing Options team. An SSQ is sponsored by the service within which the specialised skills originate. The sponsoring service provides a definition of the knowledge required, training for people wishing to take the qualification and a method of measuring whether applicants have acquired the necessary skills. They will also set the minimum time advisors should spend on related work to maintain skill levels and familiarity with cases. Further SSQ s will be defined and started later this year. For each service migrated into Customer First we will develop a Service Level Agreement to ensure clarity of ownership, responsibility and what will be delivered by each party. One of the keys to success is the introduction of the new Northgate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System. This gives us an opportunity to provide easy to follow scripts for the Customer First Advisors, enabling them to take on board a wider range of services. It improves our Customer Complaint handling process and provides a wealth of management information. With more and more services coming in to Customer First it is impossible for everyone to be expert in every area, this is one of the advantages of SSQ s. All Advisors will be able to handle a wider range of less complex calls but the skill will to be find ways of routing calls to the service specific experts as first choice. This is a challenge technology can help us with and will be covered under the Maximising Use of Appropriate Technology chapter. 6

9 6. Improving Access to Services and Channel Choice At most locations and by the telephone, access to services is 0830 x 1700 Monday to Friday (0930 one day a week at each location to allow for training and excludes Eastfield that does not open every day or as long). The recent amalgamation of Customer First into Filey TIC has resulted in us offering an extended service within the Town, longer hours and no lunchtime closure. A business case was recently signed off for a Resource Management System. Once this is implemented we will be able to do what / if analysis to assess the impact in terms of people numbers to extend our service. The Resource Management System will also enable more efficient resource planning to match staffing resources with identified peaks and troughs of service demand. We will ask our Customers what hours of business they would prefer. Current feedback suggests extended hours one evening per week and Saturday mornings would help meet Customer needs and preferences. Our Customers can contact us by or a web form 24/7. Our self service capability is limited and there is a vast opportunity to create capacity and deliver cashable efficiencies through channel shift. Our web offering will be expanded as described in the chapter Expanding our One Stop Shop Approach above but the website needs a new look and feel to be successful and attract more Customers to self serve. Customers need to be able to find information and service forms easily in a minimal number of clicks. Technology also exists where you can ask an Advisor for help and support live when completing online transactions. This technology will also be investigated. There is also potential to provide self service over the telephone for those Customers who prefer. A number of Councils have successfully implemented this technology and we will be talking with them. We are currently discussing with Philips, our telephony supplier, the possibility of Customers leaving a message with a contact number to call back the next working day. Another consideration is home working out of hours that could prove a cheaper and more viable option to support extended telephone opening hours. 7

10 7. Increasing Partnership working We are in talks with the Library service about using their mobile Library service to provide a Customer First function in more rural areas. In addition, we can train Library employees, on how to use our self service capability. They will then assist Customers who do not have regular access to the internet on how to access and use our self service forms. We are also talking to the Police about them reporting to Customer First anything they observe that needs the Council s attention. We can then aim to action and rectify issues without the need for Customers to contact us. We have built a good relationship with Fire and Rescue and they regularly attend our Customer First Centres. We have strong links with Filey Children s Centre and working on joint projects along with attending informal discussion sessions with parents to gain feedback on our services and how they would like to see them develop in the future. This also helps build the trust relationship with our Customers. We will continue to build new relationships and strengthen those we already have. The key advantages are reducing avoidable contacts, reaching out and engaging with our communities and gaining valuable Customer feedback to help make informed decisions. We will seek to benchmark our services with best in class organisations and strive for external accreditation with the Customer Contact Association (CCA). 8

11 8. Maximising use of Appropriate Technology We have recently introduced a call recording system that will significantly help in the training and development of our people as well as safeguard our people from false accusations. As previously discussed we are currently implementing a new CRM system and have a business case awaiting sign off for a resource management system. A business case for a Customer satisfaction tracker is in the process of being written. The other technology we should consider is an Intelligent Call Routing System. Research has shown for many years that Customers do not like press 1, press 2, etc call steering systems. Natural language call steering, far preferred by Customers, is now a mature and reliable product. This uses key words and phrases to determine the Customer needs and has an accuracy level as high as a human switchboard operator. The introduction of automation agents has a number of advantages for us: Calls are intelligently routed to the Advisor best equipped to deal with the call, vital as we move more and more services to Customer First, avoiding Customer frustration and delay Switchboard calls do not need to go to an advisor, they can go straight to the person or department the Customer wishes to speak with A messaging service, linked to the CRM can be offered out of hours and a choice to leave a message and be called back if we have a large queue Self service capability for a Customer to complete transactions automatically over the telephone Give out information messages We are currently assessing the Market and will be meeting with a number of potential suppliers. 9

12 9. Training and Developing our People In order to successfully move to a Customer centric organisation, all our people need to be equipped with the appropriate Customer service skills. We have Complaint handling training scheduled for October for the Customer Champions within the services, the PA s and all Service Unit Managers and above. We are also developing Customer service training for all our people. Our target is to prove 98% of our people with Customer service training by March This will include making Customer service training part of our induction process for new employees. Our people out in the community will receive specific training on how to handle Customers that approach them in the street, particularly conflict situations. They will also be encouraged to be our eyes and ears, not ignoring what needs to be fixed but actively addressing it themselves or reporting to Customer First and feeding back what they hear from our Customers. The training will reduce avoidable contacts, motivate our people and vastly improve overall satisfaction with our services. A separate document gives more detail. Within Customer First we have 3 people trained in sign language and this is to be strengthened by a further 4 people being trained over the next 12 months. In addition, we will look at what skills our people have, sign language, Braille and linguistic skills, compile a register to be able to help our Customers further and save on expensive translation services. 10

13 Annex 1 Customer Charter Our Promise: When we offer a service we will do whatever it takes to deliver it We will deliver what Customers really value When you ring during working hours there will always be an option to speak to a person If the person you speak to cannot help it will be their top priority to find someone who can All correspondence will be acknowledged and a full reply sent within 10 working days You will always be dealt with courteously and respectfully Service delivery will be driven by insight not by pre-conceptions we will listen and really understand We will create a difference change what our Customers say about us We will fix the basics Our People will: Be helpful and treat you with respect Be fair and objective with all our Customers Be sensitive to special needs Be well trained and able to respond to your enquiries Listen carefully in order to understand and respond to your needs Treat all information received in the strictest confidence Try to deal with your enquiry first time Give you an explanation of our actions Ensure you are advised of all relevant timescales We ask you: To be polite and courteous to our team as we will not tolerate any aggressive or abusive behavior Please take our leaflet below that gives all our contact details, opening hours and our service standards. Also please Let Us Know what you think about our services by completing our questionnaires. 11

14 Annex 2 Our Contact Details, Opening Hours and Service Standards Face to Face Visits: You can visit us at any of the following locations: Eastfield, High Street, Within the Library, YO11 3LL o Open 1000 x 1230 and 1300 x 1600 on Monday, Tuesday and Friday o Open 1000 x 1230 on Thursday Filey, John Street, YO14 9DQ o Open 0930 x 1700 on Monday to Friday Scarborough Customer First Centre, St.Nicholas Street, YO11 2HG o Open 0830 x 1700 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday o Open 0930 x 1700 on Wednesday to allow for training Whitby, 10, Skinner Street, YO21 3AD o Open 0830 x 1700 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday o Open 0930 x 1700 on Thursday to allow for training Please note opening days and times will vary during public holidays but these will be displayed in our Customer First Centres a minimum of 2 weeks in advance. Our Standards: Our Customer First professionals will wear a name badge You will be greeted in a courteous and welcoming manner You will be served quickly - you will not have to wait more than 5 minutes to be seen at reception or cash desk and 10 minutes to see one of our Customer First professionals You will be offered use of a private interview room to speak to us in confidence If your appointment is delayed by more than 10 minutes we will give you an explanation Printed information will be readily available and in different formats When you Telephone our Contact Centre: Calls to our telephone contact centre will be answered by our trained Customer First professionals between 0830 and 1700 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and between 0930 and 1700 on Wednesday to allow for training. Just call We also have the following specialist lines: Council Tax and Business Rates, , Monday to Friday 0930 x 1700 Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit, , Monday to Friday 0845 x

15 In an emergency, outside the above hours, you can contact the Council on for the following services: Cleansing and Refuse Dog Warden Environmental Health Officer Highways, Works and Street Cleansing Homelessness Housing Officer Mobile Warden Control Other callers will have the opportunity to leave a message on the main contact centre number and we will return your call on the next working day. Please note opening days and times will vary during public holidays but these will be displayed in our Customer First Centres a minimum of 2 weeks in advance. Telephone Response: Our Contact Centre Standards: You will receive an immediate confirmation welcome message identifying our organisation We will aim to answer your call within 20 seconds You will be greeted in a courteous and welcoming manner Customer First professionals will give their name and department when they answer your call We will try to answer your query first time without referral If we have to refer your call we will: o Introduce your call to ensure we are transferring you to the correct person o Pass on relevant information to avoid you having to repeat yourself o Offer to ring you back to avoid keeping you on hold for long periods If a transferred call reaches a voice mailbox we will o Check to see if the message explains when the person will be back in the office / available o Explain the situation and ask if you would like to leave an answer phone message If we are unable to answer your call promptly we will offer you the option to leave a voice message and contact number and ring you back within one working day When you write to us: Our main office address for correspondence is: Scarborough Borough Council Town Hall St. Nicholas Street Scarborough North Yorkshire YO11 2HG Letters Our Standards: 13

16 Your letters will be promptly acknowledged within 3 working days You will receive a full reply within 10 working days Our reply will be helpful, informative and set out in plain English If the subject is complex we will keep you informed of the progress and give you a full reply within 20 working days Our letters will give the name and direct telephone number of the person dealing with your enquiry Our letters will be provided in Braille, larger text or a different language if requested Our Standards: All s will be acknowledged within 3 working days Our reply will give the name, department and direct telephone number of the person dealing with your enquiry You will receive a reply in full within 10 working days Our reply will be helpful, informative and set out in plan English You will receive a full reply within 10 working days If the subject is complex we will keep you informed of the progress and give you a full reply within 20 working days Our Website: Our website address is Web Access Our Standards: Our website will be available for use 24 hours a day seven days a week Where it is necessary to carry out planned work which will result in the site not being available, then at least one working day s notice will be given You will be able to change the text size on the website easily if you need to read information in very large print You will be given the opportunity to comment on the accessibility and usefulness whenever you access our website If you are not able to access the web from home facilities are available in some Libraries. Feedback Compliments, Comments and Complaints How do I make a compliment, comment or complaint to the Council? You can contact us by any of the following: Tell the team member you are dealing with Face to face at any of our Customer First Centres Telephone us on us at Complete the on-line Let us Know form on our website at Fill in one of our Let us Know leaflets available in all Customer First Centres 14

17 Write to our Customer Services Manager at Scarborough Borough Council, Town Hall, St. Nicholas Street, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2HG Whichever method you choose, we will take your compliment, comment or complaint seriously and respond appropriately. If you have a comment about services, we will pass this on to the service concerned and give you a response within ten working days. If you have a complaint about a service or member of our team and you cannot resolve this with the person you are dealing with, Let us Know. We will pass the complaint on to the appropriate service and they will respond. What kind of response will I get to a complaint? If we got things wrong we will explain the circumstances to you, correct the failure, if we can, and apologise in writing. What if I am unhappy with the response I get? If you are not satisfied you can appeal and have your complaint re-investigated. This will be carried out by a Board comprising our Strategic Director, Head of Service and complaint handler. If you cannot settle your Complaint with the Council you have the right to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. However, they will not act unless you have attempted to resolve matters direct with the Council first. Complaints Our Standards: We will send you an acknowledgement to your complaint within 3 working days This acknowledgement will provide you with a unique reference number for your complaint It will give you the name and contact number of the person dealing with your complaint We will give you a detailed response within 10 working days If the subject is complex we will keep you informed of the progress and give you a full reply within 20 working days If you are unhappy with our decision you may make an appeal to have your complaint re-investigated Anything you say will be treated in confidence and will not disadvantage you in the future 15

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