Raising the standards

Hi – I’ve been trying to get our broadband connection at home sorted out over the last few days.  While everyone I have spoken to at the company who does it has been very friendly, it has taken loads of phone calls and repeats of the issues to numerous people to finally get them to solve the problem.  It has been hugely frustrating and reminded me how important good customer service is.

One of the things that has continually impressed me since I came to Staffordshire is how helpful and customer focussed our staff are as individuals. One thing that I’m aware needs improving however is that the council’s organisation and processes hasn’t matched the willingness of staff to help.

The fact is that a lot of people who contact the county council don’t know who they should be dealing with to get help and support and quickly become “lost in the system”. This leads to frustration from our customers and gives them a poor view of the Council.

You will have seen from the new structure that the Council is adopting that I regard customer services and communications with the public as being pivotal to the way we work and it is one of the areas – in terms of improved processes that help, rather than hinder, our staff – that I am very keen to improve.

We introduced new Customer Care Standards earlier this year, but there is no point in having standards if our processes mean we can’t live up to them.

 http://www.intra.staffordshire.gov.uk/feedback/standards/

We are working on a number of initiatives. The recently introduced customer contact number – 0300 111 8000 – and a switchboard with more flexible operating hours was one of them.

Others will include the use of “mystery shoppers” to test not only how well we are performing but also how we can improve.  We also need to work closely with our partners in these areas – the public should not have to contact loads of different organisations if they have inter-related issues.  I want us to be a lot better at this than the broadband provider I had the pleasure (?) of dealing with.

 This neatly links to congratulations to Pension Services. Following a two day  assessment they have successfully completed the transition to Customer Service Excellence and retained their Charter Mark Accreditation.  That shows clear commitment to customers in an area that has redesigned its processes to be as customer friendly as possible.  Lets see if we can all be as good as them.

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