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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/12/2005
Review of Customer Service - Progress Report



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to provide members with an update on the Customer Service Review which is being undertaken by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of its work programme. The Executive is invited to consider a request to provide funding for a customer survey of Waverley residents.

APPENDIX U
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 6TH DECEMBER 2005

REFERRED FROM CoRPORATE overview and scrutiny committee –
21ST November 2005
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Title:

REVIEW OF CUSTOMER SERVICE – PROGRESS REPORT
[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to provide members with an update on the Customer Service Review which is being undertaken by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of its work programme. The Executive is invited to consider a request to provide funding for a customer survey of Waverley residents.
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Environmental implications:

The review will take into account the environmental benefits of the various methods of providing customer service.

Social / community implications:

The review will take into account the social effects of the various methods of providing customer service with particular emphasis on socially excluded groups.

E-Government implications:

Part of the review will be to consider how e-Government initiatives contribute to customer service. In particular the review would evaluate and consider the case for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems as a means of improving customer service in Waverley.

Resource and legal implications:

The report proposes seeking authority to undertake a survey of Waverley residents to provide statistically valid information on the level of customer satisfaction over the range of the Council’s activities. The cost of the consultation would be approximately 8,000 and could be vired from the revenue provision of 10,000 for Council Tax Consultation, as this will not be carried out in 2005/06. There are no direct resource and legal implications associated with this report other than the officer time involved, however, any other costs associated with conducting the review that may arise would be met from the specific revenue provision of 1,000 to support the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s activities.



Background

1. At the last meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it was agreed that the customer service review would focus on addressing the following key questions:

i. What is the level of customer satisfaction for people contacting the Council? ii. What customer service standards and strategies are in place across the Council? iii. How do customers contact the Council for services and or information?

iv. What are acknowledged exponents of best practice in customer service doing in other authorities? v. What are members’ views/experiences of the effectiveness of Waverley’s customer relations?

vi. What would be the benefits in customer service delivery of introducing a CRM system?

vii. How can we improve service delivery and therefore customer relations?

Proposed Customer Survey

2. An essential part of the review of customer service is to receive feedback from residents on the level of customer satisfaction, preferred methods of contacting the Council, accessibility to services etc. The information elicited would help inform the process of planning and prioritising future service delivery including consideration of CRM solutions and would also support Corporate Strategy development and the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) process.

3. It is therefore proposed that the Executive gives approval to commission a representative and statistically valid postal survey of Waverley residents, at a cost not exceeding 8,000. The cost can be met by a virement of 8,000 from the revenue provision of 10,000 originally earmarked for a Council Tax Consultation exercise which will not now take place in the current year.

4. The results of the customer service survey will be reported in the first instance to the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of the information gathered during the review process.

Front-Line Staff Interviews

5. It was also agreed at the last meeting of the Committee that a Sub-Committee of members be established to conduct interviews with front-line customer-facing staff to obtain their views on the service provided to customers. The outcome of these interviews would be reported back to the Committee. It is proposed that the Sub-Committee would consist of four members, namely Mr M W Band, Mrs C Cockburn, Mr W M Marshall and Mr B G Shelley and, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, approval is now sought from the Executive to its establishment.


Mystery Shopper Exercise

6. In order to assess the standard of service provided to customers, the Committee has agreed to a Mystery Shopping exercise being undertaken by members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Members of the Committee who wish to volunteer as Mystery Shoppers have been asked to contact Roger Standing, Central Services Manager.

Customer Relationship Management

7. As previously reported, a member of the IDeA's Strategic Support Unit (SSU) has been allocated to provide advice and, potentially, free consultancy on the issue of CRM, as Waverley were unable to meet key e-Government ‘Priority Outcomes’ on this requirement. An initial meeting had taken place with the SSU at which they were very pragmatic about the approach to CRM and endorsed the aims of the committee's review and offered support and advice as the review progresses.

8. At its meeting on 21st November, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee was very supportive about the proposal to arrange a member/officer visit to Chorley Borough Council, Lancashire. The authority has recently been inspected by the Audit Commission as part of a Best Value Review for Customer Access and Focus and was assessed as having an excellent three star service with excellent prospects for improvement. Chorley operates a One-Stop Shop and is introducing a form of CRM using software which is used by Waverley as part of the Planning on-line Parsol Project. The authority is part of a Lancashire-wide shared telephone contact centre which opened in June 2005. The IDeA has suggested Chorley as an example of developing best practice in the area of customer service. Coincidentally your officers have also been speaking to Chorley’s CRM software providers and are interested in seeing the system in operation. Finally, like Waverley, the authority is in the process of considering Stock Transfer.

9. The Committee felt that the visit to Chorley would assist significantly with the information gathering process as part of the review and it was also agreed that it would be helpful for as many members as possible to be invited to attend, given the importance of the subject of the review and that the outcome would be essential to how Waverley moves forward. Members were also keen to visit an authority in the same situation as Waverley with regard to stock transfer. Recommendation

It is recommended that the Executive gives approval to

1. meeting the cost of the proposed customer survey, at a cost not exceeding 8,000, from the revenue provision of 10,000 allocated for a Council Tax survey;

2. the establishment of a Sub-Committee of four members, namely Mr M W Band, Mrs C Cockburn, Mr W M Marshall and Mr B G Shelley, for the purpose of conducting front-line staff interviews; and

3. a member/officer visit to Chorley Borough Council to be arranged, with as many members and substitutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive who wish to participate, being invited to attend.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Roger Standing Telephone: 01483 523221

E-mail: rstanding@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/exec/2005-06/189