To receive an update on the customer contact strategy, including performance on telephone response rates in the Customer Services Contact Centre.
The Chief Officer: Customer Services gave a presentation and made the following points:
· The customer contact strategy was first adopted in 2003, more recently the 2011-2014 strategy had been extended to 2016. A channel shift strategy had been adopted as it presented the most cost effective means of contact with the public. The savings gained from website use as opposed to face to face or telephone contact were considerable.
· Key performance indicators included 92% of calls were answered within 20 seconds, abandoned call rates were under five percent and customer satisfaction was over 75%.
· The Council’s website had experienced 6.3million views in the last year, providing strong evidence that this was the method that customers preferred to contact the Council in most instances. The Chief Officer had responded to this by reducing Customer Service staff and increasing website staff, who were now well established in the overall team.
· The benefits of the CRM system included that customers could manage their own accounts and track progress themselves. It enabled a customised service, provided visibility and reduced avoidable contact. 7,500 customers had now set up an account.
· At present the CRM system could accommodate customer online accounts, allow integration with Highway services and Capita to take payments. In addition, diary bookings.
· The next tranche of services to be integrated into the CRM system were Registrars, Electoral, Council Tax, Licensing, Pest Control, Environmental Health and the E+ card.
· The Chief Officer reported that it was crucial to understand customer journeys and to structure the website around that. Website redevelopment would be continual and respond to customer preferences and developments in technology.
The Chairman commended the improvements which had been achieved. In response to members’ queries, the Chief Officer made the following points:
· The Chief Officer reported that a major project had recently been undertaken across the Council to map data flows of anyone taking payments, to ensure there was an understanding of exactly where encrypted data was being held. Suppliers including Capita had assured officers that data was being held within the EU and was very securely held. In addition, Capita would be imminently upgrading their level of security of encrypted data and a recent internal audit report had concluded there was ‘significant assurance’ over the security of web transactions. Members requested that the Chief Officer provide a brief explanation of what each level of security meant.
· The Chief Officer reported that whilst there were peaks and troughs throughout the year in the workload of the customer services team, it was not efficient to staff to peak levels and as a result staffing was maintained at an average level. Changes in weather and school admissions often led to peaks to customer contact. Peaks were managed by carefully managing staff leave and ensuring that staff worked to strict rules. It took six months to train customer services staff, given the wide range of calls they would be expected to deal with and as a result temporary staff could not be deployed.
· A call back service was hoped to be used in the future, to be offered to customers who were waiting more than 30 seconds, it was recognised that this would need to be managed and implemented carefully.
The Executive Member and Chairman thanked the Chief Officer: Customer Services for her informative presentation and was pleased to see the close working relationship between customer services and ICT services.