APPENDIX B SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO THE CORPORATE CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS Introduction The following provides a brief summary of the standards contained within 2007 version of the Corporate Customer Service Standards in comparison with the previous version of the document. Explanations for the changes are also included. The Corporate Customer Contact Standards underpin the Customer Access priority and contribute to improved use of resources and performance. The previous Corporate Customer Contact Standards were released in June 2006 and have been in place since then. It is clear that many officers and members do not know of the standards and there is a need to re-launch the standards to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them with regards to providing quality customer service in a consistent manner. It is also important that we provide our customers with information to enable them to understand what to expect from us. Some of the current standards have not been or cannot be measured. It is imperative that the performance of the staff is monitored so that we can be sure that the standards are being adhered to. This enables us to rectify service which is not being provided correctly (e.g. by providing training, providing additional information to front-line staff etc.), to ensure consistency across each of our service points and between the front line and back office teams and to benchmark performance with other councils. It also provides vital information that will contribute to the options appraisal for customer services to be conducted during 2008. The following provides a brief summary of the standards contained within the attached document and how they have changed from the previous version. Explanations for the changes are also included. Telephone Answering Current standard : Aim to answer telephone calls within 5 rings (13 seconds) New standard : 90% of telephone calls to be answered within 20 seconds Reason for change : Firstly we need to apply a percentage measure to the number of calls being answered within the set time frame to enable us to comment on performance. Current statistics show that the council has difficulty even with a 20 second answer target. 13 seconds is not a particular best practice standard so it is difficult to see why it was chosen in 2006. Other councils operate with a 20 second measure and it seems sensible to revert to this, ensure we actually answer the calls and then improve, to either a higher percentage answered or lower the time frame, in subsequent years. This will be measured by using the statistics available on the telephone systems in use. Current standard : Where voice mail is used, respond to messages left within 24 hours. New standard : No change. Although we are recommending much less use of voice mail across the organisation, where it is used the standard should remain in place to avoid officers leaving messages for long periods of time. This will be measured by undertaking “mystery shopper” exercises. The use of voice mail is to be restricted to special case activities only. Customers do not like leaving messages as we know that calls are abandoned while our outgoing message is being relayed. These calls often result in a further contact with the council to “speak to a person” or to follow up on the voice mail message so distorts the statistics by making demand seem higher than it really is. Our aim is to provide a person at the first point of contact, even if that person only takes a message, so that we can start to gather more reliable evidence of requirements. Written communication standards (letters and faxes) Current standard: Where a written response is required, provide it within 20 working days of receipt. New standard : Where a written response is required, provide it within 15 working days of receipt for 90% of cases. Reason for change: 4 weeks is considered an unacceptable delay to provide an answer to a query. Most best practice cites 10 days as being a more appropriate standard to set but a step of 10 days less is likely to be impossible to achieve in one go. We have also added a percentage target so we can gauge how well we are doing. This will be measured by using the Contact Management System (CMS) or other similar systems in use in various service areas. We will also cease the practice of acknowledging all written correspondence and put the time into dealing with the query, unless the response is likely to take in excess of the 15 days. This will lead to a small efficiency saving (printing, paper, postage) equating to approximately £750 per annum. It is intended that we will achieve the 15 day target during 2007/08 and will look to drop to 10 days at the next review of this document. Please note – requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (2005) will continue to be responded to within 20 working days, as is the legal requirement. These are measured via the CMS. Current standard: This is a new addition. New standard : Provide documents in other formats within 10 days of the request for 100% of requests. This standard has been added to reflect the need for the council to provide a high quality customer service to a diverse customer base. This will be measured by recording the requests for such information and the speed of the response on the CMS. Electronic and web standards (new category) Current standard: This is a new addition New standard : All generic email boxes will have automatic responses set up to acknowledge receipt of communication immediately. This standard has been added to ensure that we, like many other public facing organisations, provide an automatic and immediate response to electronically generated enquiries. This will be measured by sending random emails to corporate mailboxes and checking the response. Current standard: A full response to the enquiry should be provided within 20 working days of receipt. New standard : A full response to the enquiry or request should be provided within 5 working days of receipt for 90% of contacts. Reason for change: Partly as mentioned above within written communications. However, it is suggested that electronic communications be responded to in a much quicker space of time and we will respond electronically rather than in written format as often happens now. We need to encourage those customers who can and wish to use electronic means of contact to do so. If we do not respond as quickly as other organisations can do the method will fall into disuse. It is much more cost effective for the council to deal with electronic enquiries and we should encourage them as much as possible by being prompt with our responses. This will have to be measured by keeping logs of such contacts until such time that we are able to link the email system with the CMS. Face to face contacts Current standard : Start dealing with an enquiry within 5 minutes of a customer’s arrival at the reception desk. New standard : No change made. 5 minutes to respond to a customer’s initial enquiry is deemed best practice and should remain in place. It is measured by keeping logs at face to face contact points. Current standard : When visiting customers or for appointments make sure you are within 5 minutes of the agreed time. New standard : No change made. This standard remains in place and will be measured by “mystery shopper” checks with customers and by customer satisfaction questionnaires. Current standard : This is a new addition. New standard : Resolve 60% of customer enquiries at the first point of contact. This standard is added to reflect the vision for customer service at Waveney to be able to deal quickly, efficiently and consistently with customer queries and to provide a much wider service at the customer service centres. This will be measured by keeping logs of customer contacts initially and by changing CMS during the course of 2008. Accessibility This is a new section of standards which have been added for this year and reflect the council’s need to provide services to a diverse range of customers with different needs and abilities. New standard : All of our customer facing locations will be Disability Discrimination Act 2004 compliant. This is required by law and we already have to measure it. It should form a part of the suite of statistical information gathered by Customer Services. It is acknowledged that some of our customer facing locations are not compliant and we will need to review those locations during 2008. New standard : Where requested, documents in alternative formats will be issued within 10 days of the request being made for 100% of requests. This standard is described under Written Communication standards above and is included in this section of the document for completeness. New standard : Our web site will be compatible with ‘AA’ accessibility standards. This is a requirement of all public service web sites and all councils will be measured on compliance. We need to work closely with the web team to ensure that this is achieved and to understand exactly what will be measured. Complaints, Compliments and Comments Current standard : Copies of the corporate complaints procedure brochure should be available to customers from any of our offices. New standard : Copies of the corporate complaints procedure brochure will always be available to customers from any of our offices, via the web-site and on request. The wording has been changed to reflect the different ways that the customer can get a copy of the brochure. This will be measured at offices by random checks during the year. Current standard : All complaints will be responded to within 20 working days of their receipt. New standard : All complaints will be responded to within 15 working days of their receipt. Timing changed to reflect the amended standard for written correspondence. As all complaints have to be contained within the brochure we have not provided a separate standard for electronically received notifications. It is, however, the intention to provide the form via the web-site during the year and we will then measure responses in accordance with the electronic communication standards. Current standard : This is a new addition New standard : All compliments and comments will be acknowledged within 3 working days of their receipt. This has been added for completeness. We currently acknowledge all written correspondence within 3 working days but, for the new standards, have removed this requirement for general correspondence that needs a response. We should, however, acknowledge the effort that a customer has put in to providing a compliment or other feedback.