Improving Customer Service
1. It is increasingly important to make services available to the public electronically, meeting the customer’s expectation to be able to interact whenever, wherever and however they want.
2. Central government has asked local authorities to set out how they intend to do this in an Implementing Electronic Government Statement (IEG).
3. The 12 local authorities in Surrey are committed to the seamless delivery of services through the new media as they develop, and have undertaken to produce a joint statement to demonstrate this, and set out how it can be achieved.
4. Our collective statement covers the following areas:
· Our vision for a seamless Surrey
· Our key statements of co-operation (how we will work together)
· Key milestones for success
· How we will manage the transition
5. Each local authority has produced it's own IEG Statement containing the following detail:
· A list of all services provided by the authority, developed as an implementation timetable, detailing when the services will be available electronically, with practical examples
· A statement of their current position, i.e. what percentage of services are currently available electronically
· An action plan outlining the key infrastructure milestones
· A skills analysis and risk assessment
Our Vision for a seamless Surrey
6. Our Vision is for high quality, responsive electronic delivery of services in Surrey:
By 2005, to make our services available via all access media, giving the customer the flexibility to make contact with us in a way, at a location and at a time convenient to them.
This will be achieved through:
For our Staff
By 2005, to ensure that the information necessary to provide information, resolve customer queries at the first point of contact, or to make an accurate referral, is made available to front line staff regardless of location or media. In addition, to ensure this information is available to support Members.
With our Partners
Underpinning our commitment to electronic access is the drive to deliver services in partnership with other organisations. It is important for the customer to be able to access public services seamlessly. This means that associated services are joined up and available through one point of contact.
Statements of Co-operation
8. There are several basic statements of intent that the 12 local authorities have agreed in order to achieve the seamless delivery of services across the public sector, namely:
· Working in partnership
· Shared delivery
· Life episodes and customer focused approach
· Providing recognition and assurance
· Customer analysis
· Shared customer standards and training
Working in Partnership
10. The county-wide team which has the responsibility of ensuring that Surrey local authorities present a seamless front end to the customer is the Information Age Champions Group (IAC). This team is responsible to the Surrey Chief Executive's Group, and has developed a joint workplan for achieving the Government's target of full electronic delivery by 2005.
11. The IAC is comprised of 1 champion from each of the authorities. It in turn commissions work from the Surrey Information Technology Managers Group and the Surrey Information Managers Group, both of which contain representatives from each local authority. These key groups ensure a collective approach to improving customer service across organisational boundaries.
12. In addition to this key relationship, each authority’s IEG statement will detail their links with specific partners in their geographic area.
13. To be truly seamless every authority's public access points (over the counter, web or contact centre) need to be able to resolve a customer’s query, or accurately refer that query should a more specialist input be required. Once the infrastructure is in place, each authority undertakes to perform transactions or provide information on behalf of any other.
14. In addition to joining up the 'front door' to our organisations, the IAC are also committed to promote flexible working practices for staff. Each authority supports flexible working and where appropriate, has a policy (for example, on working from home). In addition, each has agreed to develop this to allow staff from all local authorities to share workspace where appropriate and available. This will link into Surrey County Council's Workstyle programme.
Life Episodes and Customer Focused Approach
15. Each authority will present information that places the focus on the customer, as well as on the particular service or delivery channel. This will be achieved by adopting a common life episode approach, based on UKOnline's lead. In addition, where appropriate, information will be presented to the customer on a localised basis.
Providing Recognition and Assurance
16. The customer needs to be assured of the quality and authenticity of information. Their recognition of where to get information on, and access to, the full range of public services needs to reflect not only the range of services on offer, but also the locality to which the customer belongs. A common high level branding of access channels will be combined with a clear accountability for the service provided.
17. The 12 authorities will work collaboratively to determine key customer groups and their current and future access patterns. In addition, we will collectively utilise current engagement structures (for example People Panels) and work together to commission specific customer research projects.
Shared Customer Standards and Training
18. Common customer care standards are too ambitious a step at this time. There is agreement that we should work towards achieving these, but begin with an overarching 'statement of intent for the customer', and move on to sharing standards between contact centres and face to face access points.
19. A joint approach to customer care training will be undertaken with shared training events and a collectively supported qualification for front line staff, to recognise their role in representing the organisation, and to demonstrate the authorities commitment to their continued development.
Key Milestones for Success
20. This comprises of 2 Stages:
· Publish a joint IEG Statement, demonstrating a practical commitment to seamless service for the customer, and publish individual statements for each authority outlining detailed plans for making services available electronically.
· Using the detailed work in each individual IEG, identify joint projects and a collective workplan to achieve seamless service delivery through all available media.
21. Current successes that will form the foundation of stage 2 include the Surrey Portal which is developing seamless access on-line, and an extranet, linking all 12 authorities, sharing information for customer facing staff and support staff.
22. In developing a collective workplan, we have focused on customer access and developing an information infrastructure.
23. How the customer contacts us, and how we contact the customer, either proactively, or reactively, is the foundation to our seamless delivery. The following are the major pieces of work identified by the IAC as being necessary to achieving this goal:
· To identify common customer groups and the potential to market specific services through specific new media to these groups.
· To use this information to develop a multi channel access strategy, channelling customers to specific access media, incorporating a marketing approach.
· To further develop joint public access points (over the counter, kiosk etc) with agreed branding, and to identify partnering opportunities with, for example, the Post Office, Health, the Police, retailers.
Developing the Information Infrastructure
26. The following are the major pieces of work identified by the IAC as being necessary to achieving this goal:
· The implementation of an agreed information content structure, with agreed standards. The result being access to information and services for the customer through a variety of functional and geographical routes including life episodes.
· Integration with UKonline
· Action plans to develop the extranet and portal, and links to other portals covering the Surrey community
· In addition, the 2010 group (Surrey Public Sector Chief Executives) is looking to extend this work further by implementing secure links between Surrey public sector organisations, developing the portal to cover all their organisations and to explore joint application areas (for example shared electronic recruitment facilities)
27. Work identified by the IAC falls into the following areas:
· Strategic development
· Promoting wider access to services
· Joint online service availability
· Joint infrastructure
· Joint back office application areas
· New style of working
28. Areas of work around these major milestones are outlined in Annex 1. Annex 2 outlines our process for determining joint priorities and Annex 3 places these priorities within an ‘urgent / important’ matrix.
Managing the Transition Process
27. The process for developing a seamless delivery of local authority services to Surrey citizens will be managed by the IAC. All work plans will be owned by the IAC, and approved by the Surrey Chief Executives.
28. Each authority has an internal champion and / or team focused on electronic service delivery.
29. In addition, there are a number of cross organisation teams contributing to the modernising local government agenda, including;
· GIS Users Group
· Front Line Forum
· Land and Property Gazatteer Group
· IT Managers Group
· Surrey Personnel Officers Group
· Surrey Public Relations Officers Group
· Surrey Treasurers
Performance Monitoring Framework
30. In order to ensure that work is on track a performance framework will be developed.
31. Performance will essentially be managed through the IAC group. Their activities will be monitored by the Surrey Chief Executive’s Group. Overall success can be measured against the e-service Best Value Performance Indicator BVPI 157.
32. The following analysis has taken place to determine the main skills requirement for this activity. Further work needs to take place to detail how the 12 authorities intend to cover any current gaps.
33. A high level risk analysis covering the work of the Information Age Champions in delivering seamless access to public services within Surrey is attached as Annex 4.
Sharing best practice
34. The members of the IAC Group are listed below. They would be happy to discuss any aspect of their work further with colleagues from other authorities.
Steve Davies, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Paddock, Guildford Borough Council, email@example.com
David Cooke, Mole Valley District Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Graham Cook, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, email@example.com
Nigel Watson, Runnymede Borough Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Harding, Spelthorne Borough Council, email@example.com
Nigel Hannam, Surrey County Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clive Allen, Surrey Heath Borough Council, email@example.com
Stuart Mitchenall, Tandridge District Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Standing, Waverley Borough Council, email@example.com
Geoff Young, Woking Borough Council, firstname.lastname@example.org