1 AYRSHIRE SHARED SERVICE JOINT COMMITTEE 1 MAY 2015 AYRSHIRE ROADS ALLIANCE CUSTOMER SERVICE STRATEGY Report by the Head of Roads Ayrshire Roads Alliance PURPOSE OF REPORT 1. The purpose of this report is to seek the approval of the Joint Committee regarding the proposed approach for delivering a high quality, responsive, accessible customer service. BACKGROUND AGENDA ITEM 5 2. East Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council have a continued commitment to strengthening customer service across all services, through the Community Plan and the Council Plan, plus other associated documents in order to recognise the importance of effective customer service. Both Councils recognise the external drivers for improved customer service, namely that there are a significant number of national initiatives that place emphasis on the importance of improved customer focus. In addition, the Scottish Government continues to set a challenging agenda for local authorities to deliver more effective and efficient public services; whilst a more discerning and demanding resident continues to seek improved and value for money services. 3. We are aware from the current Service Plan that the Ayrshire Roads Alliance has a number of key strengths, namely delivering a high quality efficient, effective and fully integrated roads and transportation service, along with economies of scales, and a greater degree of resilience than might otherwise be possible. However, we know from consultation, feedback and complaints that there are areas where we need to deliver significant improvement. 4. The way that we currently work means that we may have confusion amongst customers as to what services the Ayrshire Roads Alliance delivers; inconsistent standards of service; and a lack of focus on end to end service provision. 5. We are keen to ensure that we deliver quality services while also maximising the best use of our resources. This means delivering services right first time and ensuring accuracy in terms of understanding the customer s issues through refined processes and service improvement. 6. These combined challenges mean that the Ayrshire Roads Alliance needs to continually review how it delivers services and to place the customer at the heart of everything that we do. We have been making improvements to our customer services; however we are keen to adopt a more strategic approach to delivering further improvements.
2 PROPOSAL 7. Over the next three years, we aim to transform not just the way that customers access our services but also the services themselves. In doing this we will focus on the development of a culture that supports the effective delivery of customer services through empowered employees. In order to achieve this we will need to embed customer service more strongly within the values and culture of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. 8. A key element of our strategy will be to respond to priorities identified by our customers and to deliver them through a wide range of channels. To provide customers with clear information about the range of services available and the standards of service which they can expect. 9. The Strategy will establish a framework within which we can deliver East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire Council s corporate objectives. Although the detail may differ in what it means and what outcomes look like for specific sections we will have clear standards and principles to work towards, namely: High quality services that are easily accessible through a variety of channels; Responsive and knowledgeable staff; Professional and courteous staff; and Right first time 10. In addition a successful Strategy will contribute to effective use of resources through: improved information, highly motivated teams, simplified processes, streamlined service delivery and the reduced costs through getting it right first time. Customer Service will be the focus to enable joined up working both within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and with partners. We will benchmark against best practice and offer services with partners that will provide efficiency gains and enable best use of resources. 11. Although the Ayrshire Roads Alliance is a complex organisation, we acknowledge that our many different customers want to access high quality services that are delivered in an easy, accessible, timely and efficient manner. The Strategy will therefore aim to establish a clear, shared vision for Customer Service and will provide a framework within which individual sectional requirements can be delivered. 12. High Quality customer service supports the key values of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, including listening and being responsive. In implementing future service improvements we will demonstrate listening to our customers and improve how we engage and consult with them. 13. Our Customer Service Strategy will put the customer at the heart of services, designing and planning all services around their needs. This will require transformation and new thinking not only in the delivery of face to face customer service but also in how we deliver end to end processes with our back office support services. Future Process Mapping will focus on the experience of the customer and not just service outcomes. 14. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy will take notice of external and internal drivers. It will be delivered within the context of the
3 Ayrshire Roads Alliance Service Plan and will be closely aligned with the implementation of the Benefits Realisation Strategy & Plan. 15. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy will take due cognisance of existing Customer Service arrangements to encompass an overarching Strategy along with the development and implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. 16. The proposed Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy is attached in Appendix 1. COMMUNITY PLANNING/POLICY IMPLICATIONS 17. The Customer Service Strategy will assist in achieving the strategic aims of the Community Plan for East Ayrshire Council and the Council Plan for South Ayrshire Council. It should be noted that the former came into effect on 1 April LEGAL IMPLICATIONS 18. The Customer Service Strategy does not present any legal Implications at this juncture. HUMAN RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS 19. The Customer Service Strategy does not present any Human Resource Implications at this juncture. EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT 20. Our Customer Services Strategy will ensure that our workforce is representative of the community we serve, enabling staff to fully understand the needs of the customer and to offer an empathetic and informed service. 21. We recognise that our customers have different needs and requirements and we will endeavour to meet these. New and existing venues for face to face contact with the public will be compliant with Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and Equality Act (2010) requirements. 22. The development of the website and other sources of written information will be guided by the principle that they must be accessible to all. We will also focus on ensuring that we are socially inclusive and that our services are clearly signposted and accessible to hard to reach groups. FINANCIAL/RISK IMPLICATIONS 23. Customer Service Strategy will facilitate the existing scrutiny arrangements to manage and review the respective budgets provided by East Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council to the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, especially regarding delivery of best value.
4 RECOMMENDATIONS 24. It is recommended that the Joint Committee: i. Duly approves the Customer Service Strategy presented in this report; ii. Receive updates on the Customer Service Strategy; and iii. Otherwise, note the content of the report. Stewart Turner Head of Roads - Ayrshire Roads Alliance 16 April 2015 LIST OF APPENDICES Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy For further information on this report, please contact Stewart Turner, Head of Roads - Ayrshire Roads Alliance on , or at Implementation Officer: Alasdair A. Sneddon, Programme Manager - Ayrshire Roads Alliance on or at
5 APPENDIX ONE Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy Our Vision The Ayrshire Roads Alliance will deliver a high quality efficient, effective and fully integrated roads and transportation service which meets the needs and wishes of the people who use the roads infrastructure (incorporating paths, cycle ways, and public transport) within the geographical area of East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire. Our vision includes a number of enablers including: We will build on our strengths to improve on service delivery. We will invest in our existing infrastructure. We will make best use of our existing resources. We will take steps to improve our performance. We will engage with our communities. We will engage with the Scottish Government; local government; community councils; community groups; and the general public. Our Challenges A number of challenges face the Ayrshire Roads Alliance as we set out to meet our Vision. These include Financial pressures on service delivery which have a high profile and direct impact on the general public. Maintain services which are statutory or a Council priority which may lead to a decision on which services may no longer be able to be delivered. Maintain a risk based approach to service delivery. Maintain our assets in a fit for purpose condition. Increase income generation. Continue to meet customer expectation. Continue to communicate our message. Explore opportunities to increase technology to service delivery to maximise our service efficiencies. Manage available resources including finance, people and our assets Our Aims Our Vision will be delivered by incorporating the following Aims into our Service Plan: We will review and improve all our business systems/processes. We will build on partnership working. We will identify the future state for our service. We will map how we want to get to this position through our Action Plan and Benefits Dependency Network Diagram. We will identify an appropriate performance management structure to measure our journey.
6 What is Customer Service? Customer Service is not merely how frontline staff interacts with customers and neither is it merely customer relations. The goal of a High Quality Customer Service within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance is to satisfy or even delight the customer. The premise for Customer Services is twofold. The external focus places the customer at the centre of all business planning, providing responsive and accessible, high quality services. The internal focus is on developing the capability and capacity of staff to deliver the provision of an effective and efficient integrated roads service within a culture of continuous improvement. What do we mean by High Quality customer service? A High Quality customer service means providing services which consistently exceed the expectations of our customers. We will do this by: Being efficient and reliable - doing what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it Taking personal responsibility for resolving problems when they arise Being responsive and prompt Having staff with the knowledge relevant to the job Being courteous and listening to what customers tell us Consulting with our customers on the service we are providing Embedding a culture of continuous improvement To ensure that customers are helped at first point of contact, our staff will not only be trained in their own area of expertise but where similar services are provided by other sections within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance they will learn this information or alternatively know where to signpost customers. Who are Our Customers? Our Customers are any existing or potential individuals or businesses who use or experience the services provided by the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. The aim of this strategy is to assist in the delivery of improving customer service and the customer experience across the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. The services provided by the Ayrshire Roads Alliance are diverse and range from simple to complex; free to charge for; individual to specific groups, common to all, whilst some services are provided within regulatory and legislative frameworks. What do Our Customers want? Our customers want: High quality services that are easily accessible through a variety of channels; Responsive and knowledgeable staff; Professional and courteous staff; and Right first time. Beneath our vision is a simple premise. We will deliver a high quality customer service by developing high performing teams that will deliver continuous
7 improvement within the clearly defined Performance Scorecard operated by the Ayrshire Roads Alliance To enable this delivery it will be necessary to continually review the structure, processes, systems and culture of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. We will transform our services and how we deliver them by incorporating the voice of the customer and our employees. What are the benefits of delivering High Quality Customer Service? A high quality customer service will improve the experience of customers and improve quality across the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. Improved relationships between the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and customers will build trust and enhance reputation. Delivering right first time customer service and channelling the majority of our transactions through the web will support effective use of resources. Our staff morale and retention will improve as staff want to work for an Ayrshire Roads Alliance which delivers high quality customer service.. Our Vision for Customer Service Our vision is to transform the Ayrshire Roads Alliance from being a traditional service with centric authority, where services are designed around professional services to a leading fully integrated roads shared service recognised as an outstanding service organisation placing customers at the heart of everything of service delivery. We want to become a more proactive and responsive service through the better use of information and through our values: A transformation of the way citizens experience the service. Services will be delivered at the times that reflect the needs of customers and our services will be closer aligned to the neighbourhoods, giving greater responsiveness and accountability to local people. A renewed focus on service productivity. We will review our processes and staffing structures to ensure that they are lean and efficient. We will ensure our staff have the skills and technology to sustain or improve performance. Development of a mobile, integrated and responsive workforce. This is core to our business model we will integrate teams, invest in our people to ensure they have the skills to provide a flexible service and we will invest in mobile technology to allow greater mobile working and responsiveness to changing demands. The services will be provided for an affordable cost. The Detailed Business Case proposals release significant savings, as outlined in this Benefits Realisation Strategy and Plan. A targeted approach to outputs and outcomes. We will strengthen our performance management regime and will re-focus our performance targets to ensure that they are output and outcome driven.
8 Technology will act as a far greater driving force for the service than before. Investing in new technology is key to improving the productivity and efficiency of our workforce and reducing the environmental impact of our service. We want to embed Customer Service as a core competence of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance which means that every employee understands that they have a responsibility for ensuring that the delivery of Customer Service is seamless. Our strategic intent is to provide a consistent and accurate level of service across all channels and to direct customers to the most effective and appropriate channel for the service they require. As a principle, we will endeavour to resolve simple queries via self-service through the website or customer access points. More complex queries will be resolved through contact with service experts. Where we are today The Ayrshire Roads Alliance is committed to listening to our customers and to delivering a prompt and courteous response. We have recently reviewed our customer service process to make it more effective. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance customer service process commences with a customer enquiry from the following channels: Directly from the customer by letter, , telephone call or fault reporting via the Ayrshire Roads Alliance website; Councillor enquiry by letter, , telephone call or fault reporting via the Ayrshire Roads Alliance website; Via the nominated officer for South Ayrshire Council, who is Kevin Braidwood, Operations Manager and who is based at Burns House, Ayr. Via the nominated officer for East Ayrshire Council, who is Kevan Aitken, Network Manager and who is based at Johnnie Walker Bond, Kilmarnock. The next stage in the customer service process involves the Administration Team, where the customer enquiry is date stamped before a standard acknowledgement is issued to the customer. All customer enquiries are then logged into the Mail Tracker system before being classified as a Complaint or a General Enquiry/ Service Request. All complaints are processed in accordance with East Ayrshire Council s Complaints Procedure, summarised below. This procedure defines a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf. All general enquiries or service requests are distributed by the Administration Team to the relevant Service Manager or Co-ordinator within East Ayrshire or South Ayrshire to be addressed. The relevant Service Manager (or Co-ordinator) is then tasked with responding to the general enquiries or service requests within seven working days, and supplying a copy of the response to the Head of Service s Secretary so that the customer enquiry can be closed off on the aforementioned Mail Tracker system.
9 This also enables the Head of Service s Secretary to notify the relevant directorate within East Ayrshire or South Ayrshire that the customer enquiry has been closed off, replete with the response issued to the customer. In the event that the relevant Service Manager (or Co-ordinator) is unable to respond to the general enquiries or service requests within seven working days, then a holding response is issued to the customer advising of the reason for the delay and the anticipated date that a full response will be issued. A copy of the full response is supplied to the Head of Service s Secretary so that the customer enquiry can be closed off on the Mail Tracker system. This enables the Head of Service s Secretary to notify the relevant directorate within East Ayrshire or South Ayrshire that the customer enquiry has now been closed off, replete with the response issued to the customer. The current levels of performance in terms of responding to enquiries within the allotted timescale against a target of 80% are illustrated in Chart 1 below. Chart 1 Percentage of enquiries responded to within allotted timescale against target. Website The Ayrshire Roads Alliance has a website that provides access to Ayrshire Roads Alliance services 24 hours, seven days a week. Whilst we have received much positive comment about our website, we realise that it is not always easy for customers to access the information they require. We are also aware that we could further develop the range of services that we provide through our website. As a channel for customer service delivery web usage has not been maximised. Complaints Procedure A customer can make a complaint in writing, in person by telephone by or online, or by having someone complain on their behalf. East Ayrshire Council s Complaints Procedure provides two opportunities to resolve complaints internally: at stage 1 (frontline resolution) or stage 2 (Investigation) of the procedure.
10 Stage 1 (Frontline Resolution) Stage 1 (Frontline Resolution) will typically address issues that are straightforward and easily resolved, requiring little or no investigation. The main principle of frontline resolution is to seek early resolution, resolving complaints at the earliest opportunity and as close to the point of service delivery as possible. This may mean a face-to-face discussion with the customer, or asking an appropriate member of staff to deal directly with the complaint. In practice, frontline resolution means resolving the complaint at the first point of contact with the customer, either by the member of staff receiving the complaint or other identified staff. In either case, the complaint may be resolved by providing an on-the-spot apology where appropriate, or explaining why the issue occurred and, where possible, what will be done to stop this happening again. Frontline resolution must be completed within five working days either resolving the matter or explaining that their complaint is to be investigated. If the complaint requires investigation, then it may be necessary to gather more information from other services to resolve the complaint at this stage. On such occasions that an investigation is required, a holding response will be issued to the customer within five working days advising of the reason for the delay and the anticipated date that a full response will be issued. A complaint will be escalated from Frontline Resolution to Investigation when: frontline resolution was tried but the customer remains dissatisfied and requests an investigation into the complaint. This may be immediately on communicating the decision at the frontline stage or could be some time later; the customer refuses to take part in the frontline resolution process; and the issues raised are complex and require detailed investigation. Stage 2 (Investigation) Stage 2 (Investigation) will typically address issues that: have not been resolved at the frontline; are particularly complex; or will require a detailed investigation. These complaints may already have been considered at the frontline resolution stage, or they may have been identified from the start as needing immediate investigation. An investigation aims to establish all the facts relevant to the points made in the complaint and to give the customer a full, objective and proportionate response that represents the final position of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance will be clear from the start of the investigation stage on the nature of the investigation to ensure that both the customer and the service understand the investigation s scope. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance recognise that it may be helpful to discuss and confirm these points with the customer at the outset, to establish why they are dissatisfied and whether the outcome they are looking for sounds realistic. In discussing the complaint with the customer, the Ayrshire Roads Alliance will consider three key questions: What specifically is the customer s complaint or complaints? What does the customer want to achieve by complaining? Are the customer s expectations realistic and achievable?
11 It may be that the customer expects more than the Ayrshire Roads Alliance can provide. On such occasions, the Ayrshire Roads Alliance will make this clear to the customer as soon as possible. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance will also clarify what additional information will be needed to investigate the compliant. The customer may need to provide more evidence to help the Ayrshire Roads Alliance reach a decision. Details of the complaint will be recorded on the East Ayrshire Council corporate system for recording complaints. Where appropriate, this will be done as a continuation of frontline resolution. The details will be updated when the investigation ends. If the complaint proceeds to Stage Two and further investigation follows, all case notes, files and associated information will be passed to the officer responsible for the investigation. The customer can expect an acknowledgement of receiving their complaint for investigation within three working days. The customer will be provided with the decision following the investigation as soon as possible, but within twenty working days of receiving the complaint for investigation, unless there is a clear and justifiable reason for extending this timescale. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance will notify the customer with the outcome of the investigation, in writing or by their preferred method of contact. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance response will address all of the areas that we are responsible for and explain the reasons for our decision. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance will also notify the customer of: their right to ask Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider the complaint; the time limit for doing so; and how to contact the SPSO. Where we want to be over the next three years Organisation We wish to deliver high quality services that are responsive, accessible, efficient and effective. If we are to deliver real benefits to our customers and maximise efficient use of resources we will adopt an integrated and seamless approach to service delivery and also deliver a consistent level of service across all channels. This will entail creating an Ayrshire Roads Alliance that believes in a customer first culture where services are developed around the customer and not Ayrshire Roads Alliance structures. The Benefits Realisation Strategy and Plan has already started the development of a firm foundation for the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, through the modernisation of support services and implementing a new working structure for new working practices. The shift in emphasis of placing the customer at the heart of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance has already begun to transform external facing services. Below are the areas and improvements that we will deliver over the next two years.
12 Partnership Working in partnership we can provide community leadership through service delivery and enhance the customer experience with joined up and integrated service provision. This will mean that it is necessary to work within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance to establish the most appropriate utilisation of resources, property, and assets to provide seamless and accessible service provision. Better Engagement Underpinning this vision we need better engagement and consultation with our customers. We need to ensure that we understand who our customers are, what services they need and want and how and when they want to access these services. If we understand our customers, we can work within the fully integrated roads shared service and other partners to prepare the panoply of services that a customer can access through a single service channel. If we understand customer requirements we can enable technology to support this delivery. New Processes We need to develop end to end processes that focus on the needs of the customer and reduce administrative practices that add little value to our customers and our staff. We will develop processes that support and reflect the needs of customers and not arbitrary targets or performance measures. We will continually re-engineer our processes to reduce service failure and avoid contact that is avoidable. New Behaviours We need to create a culture that supports the delivery of a high quality customer service within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and our partners. The quality of our staff will determine the quality of our customer service. We need to recruit the right people with the right attitudes and behaviours, and then develop their skills to deliver continually improved services. Performance Management We need to develop a balanced approach to performance management that will measure customer satisfaction, staff satisfaction, service delivery and value for money. We will always be mindful of the use of resources and adopt a rigorous business case approach to our investments. The primary driver for investment in customer services will be to improve the quality and accessibility of services we provide to our customers. Economies of scale and efficiencies will be delivered as the entire Ayrshire Roads Alliance becomes more customer focused and services are developed around the customer.
13 High Performing Teams In the wider context, we will embed a philosophy of good customer care across all parts of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and develop a culture of high quality customer service delivered through high performing teams. We recognise that a fundamental tenet of this is to empower and engage our staff in the design and provision of services. Customer Service will become a core competence of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. We will ensure that our Customer Service Strategy is aligned to our forthcoming Organisational Review, announced to Joint Committee on 1 st May 2015 under the Benefits Realisation Strategy and Plan. Customer care will form part of the job descriptions of all our staff and we will reinforce the message of customer service as part of our Corporate Induction. All Employees of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance will be clear that they are responsible for contributing to the delivery of a seamless Customer Service on behalf of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. Customer Care training and development programme will be developed and rolled out, initially to all frontline staff. This will be achieved in harmony with the Community Plan, Organisational Development Strategy, Transformation Strategy and complaints handling process within East Ayrshire Council. Customer Service will be integrated into the Service Planning process and into the objectives of individuals and teams. In the wider context, we will develop a culture of High Quality customer care delivered through high performing teams. We recognise that a fundamental tenet of this is to empower and engage our staff in the design and provision of services. Process Improvement Process mapping and changing the way that we work across the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and with our partners is core to the delivery of this strategy. We will develop a deeper understanding of service delivery from the service user and redesign end to end processes to deliver effective service across sections and partner Ayrshire Roads Alliances. Through process mapping, we will be able to release resources from routine administrative services. Professional staff will be released from administrative duties to focus on the core business. Customer Insight Local partnerships must understand who their existing or potential customers are, what their requirements are and where they are located. Accessing and utilising this information is fundamental to meet the increasing expectations of customer service from a discerning public. Our aim as the Ayrshire Roads Alliance will be to develop a vision for how we will deploy customer insight to improve service delivery in addition to evidencing the selection of improvement targets and priorities.
14 Conclusion How will we get there? To deliver our vision for Customer Service, there is a fundamental requirement to create a culture where customers are placed at the centre of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and to change the way that people work, the way that services are delivered and the way that the Ayrshire Roads Alliance interacts with its customers. Customer service will need to become a core competence of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance. In order to do this, we need to provide clear leadership and governance arrangements to drive the strategy from the top and provide a shared vision that everyone can work towards. The right culture can only be developed when it is sponsored from the top and delivered through a clear governance structure. Senior and middle managers within the Ayrshire Roads Alliance will need to buy into the concept of customer focus and adopt the necessary attitudes and behaviours. Our senior managers will need to lead by example, and conduct focus groups with staff to build the customer service culture and constantly work with their employees for ways to improve the service. The Ayrshire Roads Alliance Customer Service Strategy will feed into our annual Service Plan. There will be four clear stages to this cycle: Consultation with Customers and Staff Clear Performance Standards that are visible and transparent Management and evaluation of performance against these standards Service Improvement through process redesign In implementing this successfully, we will be recognised as a centre of best practice for customer service through regular performance monitoring, measurement and benchmarking.
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