Deputy Leader Ref No. DL03
Customer Access - Face to Face Service Delivery
Report by: Executive Director Customer Services Electoral Divisions:
and Head of Customer Services
Much work has been done to understand patterns of customer demand and in
analysing what services are available from different locations in West Sussex. This
work has included services offered in conjunction with partner organisations such as
district and borough councils.
Whilst it is cheaper for customers to access services via the telephone or the
internet, there are many customers for whom face to face will remain the most
appropriate way of accessing Council Services.
One of the overarching design principles of FSR is ‘no wrong door’: not sending
customers elsewhere to access a service if they visit one of our offices.
It is therefore proposed that the County Council establishes a number of “Customer
In addition, it is proposed that there should be a number of Customer Service
Centres distributed across West Sussex that will provide customers with the
opportunity to conduct straightforward “once and done” services and the facilities
for more complex service delivery. Customer Service Centres will typically be larger,
strategically located, multi-service locations where the Council already offers one or
more services such as County Hall, County Hall North and Durban House.
Criteria and design principles for deciding where these service points will be located
and what they will do are set out later in this report. Decisions will only be taken
after further customer information and consultation in accordance with those
1. To confirm the criteria and design principles (detailed in the report) for the
establishment of customer access points to enable access to all County
Council services from the first location tried and for a number of Customer
Service Centres in strategic locations across the County.
2. To authorise the Executive Director Customers in consultation with the
Cabinet member to determine the location and functions of the access points
and service centres in accordance with the criteria and design principles.
West Sussex County Council is one of the few Councils in England and Wales that
has been accredited by the Cabinet Office with the ‘Customer Service Excellence’
standard for both its face to face Help Points (delivered jointly with districts,
boroughs and some parishes) and its telephone contact centre. Maintaining this
quality of service and protecting this accreditation are critically important for the
At the moment, it is recognised that excellence is not always systemic – it often
depends on the goodwill and professionalism of staff, not always on the structures,
processes, systems and information of the County Council and its partners.
The Council is continuing to invest in the development of the Contact Centre and
the Website in order to meet commitments to improving service. This is part of a
strategy designed to encourage and direct customers to access services via the
least expensive channels and hence offer best value. However, for some customers,
access to services via these channels may not be appropriate. We must therefore
ensure that customers are treated fairly and are offered a consistent quality of
service irrespective of which channel they choose.
“We will improve the ways we engage with the whole range of
customers and communities in West Sussex and endeavour to
provide excellent value for money services that deliver for
people, when and where they want and need them.
We will give front line staff the authority and ability to deal
with your queries and problems there and then. In improving
our focus on customers we will cut out duplication and overlap,
streamlining ourselves as an organisation so that we can
continue to offer better services.”
Leader’s Foreword to the County Strategy 2009 – 2013
It is clear that the establishment of improved face to face service delivery entirely
supports the delivery of improving services and access to services “when and where
they want and need them”. The provision of empowered customer service
professionals at first point of contact and working in a joined up way with service
professionals will provide first time resolution and provide access to service
professionals in a timely manner.
Whilst we may wish to encourage and, where possible, direct customers to ever–
cheaper channels we must retain an element of choice and ensure that the quality
of services across all of these channels is consistent, mitigating the risk of service
disparity –and the so-called “digital divide”.
Building on the approach that there is no “wrong door” for the customer we must
also ensure that, where customers receive services face-to-face’ the facilities, staff
and technology are available to support service provision.
The selection and location of such facilities will be undertaken on a systematic basis
taking into consideration the following:
(i) level and type of customer demand
(ii) demographics of surrounding area (including current arrangements for
(iii) availability and cost of providing “fit for purpose” facilities.
(iv) appetite of partners to co-locate
(v) the opportunity to rationalise the existing property portfolio.
Work undertaken in FSR, supplemented by data and analysis by the Council’s
Insight Team, has already mapped out the current property portfolio and overlaid
those facilities where customers receive services and demographic information
including such parameters as population, areas of deprivation etc.
3. Proposals – criteria and principles
The future design of face to face service provision will build on the existing facilities
such as Libraries, Help Points and large accommodation centres such as County Hall
and the proposal is that a range of Customer Service Access points will be
These will provide:
A clearly identified Service Desk Area
Trained customer services staff, processes and technology to support
simple “once and done” service delivery
Information, advice and guidance for customers who want information
on any public service in West Sussex
Free access to a book-able PC for self-service
Telephone access to pre-configured numbers
In addition, it is proposed that a number of multi-service Customer Service
Centres are established. Initial locations are:
Chichester - County Hall
Horsham - County Hall North,
Bognor Regis - Durban House
Crawley - Crawley Library
East Grinstead - Library & Children & Family Centre
Worthing - tbc (Options include Centenary House
and Worthing Library)
Customer Service Centres should:
Be in locations that meet the needs of the community, and where
people may already expect to go
Be located where there is easy access for all including those with
Be clearly branded with opening hours and services available
Provide access to interpretation/translation facilities
Display and disseminate information in different formats
Handle simple “once and done” enquiries and a range of more complex
service requests (which require professional or specialist judgement)
Deliver a range of core services (e.g. social care) either through book-
able shared spaces or co-located partner services.
Consultation has been undertaken with Cabinet, County Council staff, District and
Borough representatives and customers in East Grinstead Library & Children &
Family Centre and Library customers.
The intention is to consult more extensively with local residents as local options are
5. Resources Implications and Value for Money
The County Council already owns a site license for the principal system required to
support this approach (Lagan). This means that the establishment of Customer
Access Points will require the low level of investment required to train existing staff
and to deploy existing technology.
The establishment of each Customer Service Centre will require a full business
case. The business case will require identification, allocation and management of
all resources required to establish and operate the service (including options for
Business case development will also consider benchmarking with existing Council
and partner service provision and those provided more widely by comparable
6. Risk Management Implications
There are a number of risks that need to be managed:
(i) the degree of change required to ensure that all Council and Partner
Services are delivered in a joined up manner at first point of contact
and that this is consistent across all locations. (The customer doesn’t
need to know necessarily who is delivering the service).
(ii) the capability of technology (particularly data and information
systems) to provide the Customer Access Points and Customer Service
Centres with accurate and timely information.
7. Customer Focus Appraisal
A full customer focused appraisal is in development and will inform the
decisions on the future location and functions of the access points and
8. Crime and Disorder Act Implications
9. Human Rights Act Implications
Diane Ashby Simon Daisley
Executive Director for Customers Services Head of Customer Services
Contact: Simon Daisley, Head of Customer Services, Ext. 82689