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Agenda item

Agenda item

Customer Care Strategy

To consider the progress made against the actions within the Customer Care Strategy during 2022/23 and to endorse the action plan for 2023/24.


98.1          The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 119-138, set out the progress made against the actions within the Customer Care Strategy during 2022/23.  Members were asked to consider the report and to endorse the action plan for 2023/24.

98.2          The Customer Services Team Leader advised that some of the key points included the Customer Services team being the first point of contact for Licensing and Planning queries so they could answer frequently asked questions freeing up the specialist teams to deal with more complex enquiries; this had been working well and Licensing, in particular, were very happy with the results.  The Customer Services team had also been working with the Business Transformation team to enhance online services offered to customers e.g. bulky waste service.  In 2023/24, it was intended to look at a new telephone system for the authority as the current system did not work with other platforms such as Teams.  Customers were still being encouraged online where possible, freeing up staff to assist those who were not able to access services in that way.  When letters were sent out in bulk at particular times, this resulted in a high number of calls so it helped if people could self-serve, for instance, garden waste renewals had recently gone out so this was generating a lot of customer contact.  The Head of Corporate Services drew attention to Page No. 124 of the report and indicated there was a sentence missing in relation to the action around implementing improvements as a result of the residents’ satisfaction survey and he clarified that the residents’ satisfaction survey had been completed and a report had been presented to Council.  With regard to the telephone system, this was coming to the end of its life and would be a major project for the Business Transformation team over the next 12 months.  It was thought there was better technology available such as intuitive software which would assist the customer experience, for instance, using voice recognition to request a service or Officer rather than listening to a list of options.

98.3          A Member was pleased to note that the telephone system was being reviewed and he asked whether the Customer Services team was aware of what happened when they transferred calls to Officers and they did not pick up.  The Customer Services Team Leader advised that if they knew an Officer was unavailable they would not put the call through and if Officers did not answer they should have a voicemail stating where they were, when they would be back and who they could contact instead.  The Member expressed the view that the system was very clunky and some Officers had voicemails whilst others did not.  The Customer Services Team Leader indicated that Officers could be away from their desks and telephones for a number of reasons ranging from annual leave to being out on site or in a meeting.  If Customer Services could not get through, the only option was to take a message for the customer.  One of the main issues was that an Officer might update the Teams system to show they were not available but that was not linked to the telephone system.  The Head of Corporate Services indicated that, if Members were having problems contacting individual Officers, they should provide him with the relevant details and he could look into this further to try to resolve any issues.  The Customer Services Team Leader advised that the Business Transformation Team was working on something for the Planning department which would mean that, if the telephone was not answered, a message would be sent to the Planning Officer so they had to respond within a certain timescale and it would be flagged if they did not.  If that was successful then it could potentially be rolled out across the authority.

98.4          A Member was aware that some residents struggled with the Report It system, particularly the map, and so reverted to sending emails but it was often unclear what happened to them after they had been sent to Customer Services.  The Customer Services Team Leader explained there was a central Customer Services inbox and whoever was on reception that day was responsible for the administration; if Customer Services could deal with the query they would answer it, if not, they would send it on to the appropriate Officer and would let the customer know and provide contact details.  She agreed that the Report It system was not always clear and she undertook to speak to IT to see if anything could be done.

98.5          A Member asked whether the Advice and Information Centres (AICs) were promoted and if that could be improved in any way rather than closing them.  In response, the Customer Services Team Leader advised that attempts had been made to promote them but there had been very minimal take-up of the services provided which had included Benefits and Housing Officers being located in the AICs; the main requests now were for photocopying and blue bags.  During the pandemic, a lot of people had found alternative ways to communicate with the Council and Customer Services were only present at the AICs for two hours per week – the venue in Brockworth was open 9.00am-5.00pm and Customer Services did not need to be present to give out blue bags etc.

98.6          It was

RESOLVED           That the progress made against the actions within the Customer Care Strategy during 2022/23 be NOTED and the action plan for 2023/24 be ENDORSED.

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