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					Customer Service Standards (v3)

Draft document for review with customers and staff



Devon County Council
July 2005



V3 incorporates comments from Customer Service Champions and colleagues.
Who our customers are and how we want to
treat them                                                                                          Introduction


Devon County Council is wholeheartedly committed to placing customers at the heart
of everything it does.

If you contact us for any reason, or are affected by anything we do, you are one of our customers.
People are not an interruption of our work; they are the purpose of it.

Customers, like our staff, are not cold statistics. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and
respect. In all our dealings with the public, we must put ourselves in the customer's place and
think how we would wish to be treated.

We will keep our promises to you. For example, if we've agreed to contact you on a particular day,
we will do that. If this turns out to be impossible because circumstances have changed, we will
contact you beforehand and agree a new date with you.

Like all other local authorities, we have to operate within legislative, policy and financial
constraints. This means that we may not always be able to deliver exactly what you want.
We do, however, promise to be fair, honest and open.
We will always explain the reasons behind any decision.

Our service standards below set out the levels of service that we aim to
deliver.

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Customer Service Standards v3                     Page 2                             Private & Confidential
What are customer service standards?
                                                                                                 Introduction

A written definition of the standards the County Council aims to offer customers, however they
choose to contact us and whatever the nature of their request.


In the short term, they define:
Consistency    of service for all customers
Fair   and equal access to services for all customers
Service    that is focussed on what is important to customers
Clarity   about what is expected from our staff
A   measurable service


In the medium term, they may form the basis on which the County Council publishes externally
its commitment to and achievement of service standard objectives.




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Customer Service Standards v3                      Page 3                        Private & Confidential
                                                                                      Introduction



   Guiding principles
   1.   DCC service standards use the ODPM definition of resolution at the first point of contact, that
        is: ‘service interactions concluded at the initial point of contact, without the need for further
        action or mediation on the part of the person instigating the interaction’
   2.   A contact is owned by the person that initially receives the contact, until it is resolved or
        someone else agrees to own the contact
   3.   All written communications will adhere to plain English principles as defined by Plain English
        Campaign
   4.   All outbound and telephone contacts will signpost customers to the correct place to contact if
        they wish to contact the Authority again
   5.   Customers will not be solely dependent on one person’s availability to access the Authority.
   6.   The first and last name of individual staff will be used in all personal contacts unless the
        member of staff judges their personal safety is at risk in a specific situation. Any such cases
        should be reported to the individual’s line manager
   7.   Access to services for customers who do not read / speak English will be by translation
        services.
   8.   Response times relate to core hours / days, ie 9-5 weekdays, excluding bank holidays,
        except for the Contact Centre, Social Services Emergency Duty Team and the Environment
        Control Room
   9.   Contacts are excluded from the customer service standards if they are known to be
        unsolicited approaches from external suppliers offering products or services to the Authority

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                                                                                                  Telephone standards

             Telephone standards

                       For all telephone calls during core hours                Plus for Contact Centre during its opening hours

                       % of calls abandoned < 5%                                > 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds
                       % of calls receiving engaged tone < 1%                   Response times for SMS text messaging and
                       If person not available, message taken to agreed          Minicom to be confirmed.
                        standards. Call back time offered with a 4-hour
Public access to
                        slot (ie Monday afternoon, Thursday morning).
DCC
                       Voicemail checked at least every 4 hours during
                        working hours.
                       Alternative contact details on every voicemail
                        message.

                       Calls either resolved at first point of contact, or      80% of calls resolved by Contact Centre during
Speed of               Customer advised of next steps and a timeframe            first call, from the customer’s point of view
resolution             Service standards for resolution by transaction
                        type?

                       Standard greeting                                        Standard call close, confirming customer
                       Open call with name and service, use first and            understanding and asking if there is anything else
Clear, positive,                                                                  we can help them with
                        last name during call
consistent
                       Positive words and tone, no jargon, acronyms
language
                       Describe other departments as our XYZ team or
                        my XYZ colleague

                       Provide full contact details for future contact          In early stages, advisers to make a follow-up call
Clear signposting      All written communications sent out to show               to the appropriate team to ensure that what was
                        correct name and phone number prominently                 promised has been done


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Customer Service Standards v3                                Page 5                                      Private & Confidential
                                                                                                 Telephone standards

           Telephone standards

                      For all telephone calls during core hours                Plus for Contact Centre during its opening hours

                      All contacts can be handled on the telephone,            Manage customer to appropriate channel and
                       unless there is a legal or agreed procedural              offer other channels (not necessarily same
                       exception that requires written documentation to          channel for inbound and outbound contact)
Appropriate to         be produced                                              Provide suitable channels for customers who are
customer needs        If transferring to voicemail, check with customer         visually and hearing impaired
                       that they want to be transferred and give the            Go at right speed for customer, checking
                       destination direct dial number for future use             understanding if necessary
                                                                                Call guiding / leading as appropriate

                      If transferring call, explain to customer what will      Wrap time
                       happen during transfer and give the destination          Number of calls handled
                       direct dial number for future use                        Outcomes – eg, % resolved during first call
Efficiency and
                      Announce all transfers, giving caller’s name, the        Accuracy of handoffs to Service areas – when and
accuracy               purpose of the call and any references                    where to hand off, full and accurate data capture
                      Only transfer call if you’re certain it’s to the
                       correct destination

                   Important indicators to be confirmed by customers,           Call monitoring to include sample customer
                      may include:                                               feedback
                      Customer found it easy to get through to
                       someone who could help them
Customer              Customer felt that the person listened to them
satisfaction           and understood their requirements
                      Customer received right information first time
                      Customer understood what would happen next
                       (if not resolved first time)
                      We kept any promises we made to the customer
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Customer Service Standards v3                                Page 6                                    Private & Confidential
                                                                 Telephone standards


Telephone message-taking standards

  Before taking a message, the person receiving the call
  should check whether they are able to help the caller. If the
  call requires the specific attention of a named individual, the
  following must be recorded:
       •   The name and telephone number of the caller
       •   The name of their organisation if relevant
       •   A summary of the reason for their call and a note of previous
           contact about this issue
       •   The date and time they called
       •   The action the message taker has agreed with the caller
       •   The name and extension of the message taker




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                                                                                                    Written standards

            Web standards

Public access to DCC             %   of population within 3 miles of a computer.
                                 Download     and response times for homepage.
                                 Availability   of website and online services.
                                 Page    impressions (ie pages that are viewed)
                                 Unique    users

Speed of resolution              Customers   advised of service-specific standards when they have completed an
                                 online transaction


Clear, positive, consistent      Adhere    to LAWS usability guidelines
language                         Plain   English principles

Appropriate to customer needs    Transaction    fall-out rate
                                          •Overall
                                          •Those related to website marketing strategy
                                 Number     of online services developed with users

Clear signposting                Provide   full contact details for each DCC service (BV157)
                                 Provide   a service-based mailbox for each service
                                 Provide   appropriate links to all Council Services (in ESD toolkit)

Efficiency and accuracy          Number     of contacts through web channel
                                 Online   transactions completed

Customer satisfaction            New   vs returning users
                                 Customer  verification and testing – accessibility, usability, functionality and overall
                                 user experience


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 Customer Service Standards v3                             Page 8                                        Private & Confidential
                                                                                                       Written standards

            E-mail standards

Public access to DCC                   response within 1 working day to resolve query or, if this is not possible, to
                                 Initial

                                 acknowledge it and give target for substantive response
                                 In-boxes     that are published externally to be checked at least daily (half-daily?)

Speed of resolution              80%    of e-mails resolved within 1 working day
                                 100%      of e-mails resolved within 5 working days
                                    < 20% of e-mails that DCC sends result in a follow-up from the customer

Clear, positive, consistent      Salutation  for every e-mail, where customer has used a salutation, use the same one
language                         in reply, otherwise use “Dear…”
                                 Open      e-mail with “Thank you for…”
                                 Positive     words and tone, no jargon, acronyms
                                 Plain     English principles

Appropriate to customer needs    Use   customer name as they have– eg Jane, or Jane Smith, or Mrs Smith
                                 For external e-mails, delete any internal redirections of the e-mail so only relevant
                                 information is included

Clear signposting                Usee-mail signatures standards – your first and last name, department and phone
                                 number
                                 Do not invite customer to reply to your personal address, but to the group in box for
                                 your service.

Efficiency and accuracy          Use   templates where appropriate
                                 Do   not send personal information externally
                                 Where      appropriate, include a link to Devon or partner website

Customer satisfaction            TBC




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 Customer Service Standards v3                             Page 9                                        Private & Confidential
                                                                                                     Written standards

            Fax standards


Public access to DCC                   response within 1 working day to resolve query or, if this is not possible, to
                                 Initial

                                 acknowledge it and give target for substantive response
                                 Fax   machines to be checked at least daily (half-daily?)


Speed of resolution              80%   of faxes resolved within 1 working day
                                 100%      of faxes resolved within 5 working days

Clear, positive, consistent      Positive     words and tone, no jargon, acronyms
language                         Plain     English principles



Appropriate to customer needs    Use   customer name as they have– eg Jane, or Jane Smith, or Mrs Smith
                                 Reply     to a fax with a fax, unless customer asks you to respond by another channel


Clear signposting                Use   a cover sheet with sender’s and recipient’s name, phone and fax number
                                 Offer     options for future contact – fax, e-mail, phone number


Efficiency and accuracy          Do not send personal information externally, unless by exception (see Directorate
                                 guidelines)


Customer satisfaction            TBC




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 Customer Service Standards v3                            Page 10                                      Private & Confidential
                                                                                                 Written standards

            Letter standards

Public access to DCC                   response within 5 working days to resolve query or, if this is not possible, to
                                 Initial

                                 acknowledge it and give target for substantive response
                                 Letters    to be read and prioritised every working day


Speed of resolution              80%    of letters resolved within 5 working day
                                 100%      of letters resolved within 10 working days


Clear, positive, consistent      Open      letter with “Thank you for your letter…”
language                         Positive     words and tone, no jargon, acronyms
                                 Plain     English principles

Appropriate to customer needs    Use   customer name as they have– eg Jane, or Jane Smith, or Mrs Smith
                                 Use words and phrases suitable for customer – mirror the ones they have used if
                                 appropriate


Clear signposting                Give    your full name and direct dial telephone number
                                 Offer     alternative sources of information, eg website


Efficiency and accuracy          Use   templates, standard letters and paragraphs where appropriate


Customer satisfaction            TBC




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 Customer Service Standards v3                            Page 11                                   Private & Confidential
                                                                                   Written standards



Plain English principles

  1.   Keep average sentence length short –15-20 words (about a line and a half of normal A4
       page)
  2.   Prefer active verbs “we offer a free bus pass” rather than “a free bus pass is offered by
       us”
  3.   Use “you” and “we”
  4.   Choose words appropriate for the recipient – you can judge this by how they write and the
       words they use
  5.   Don’t be afraid to give instructions – “please send the form..” rather than “it would be
       helpful if you could send the form…”
  6.   Avoid nominalisations – use “complete, verify, justify” rather than “completion, verification,
       justification”
  7.   Use positive language – “please call us so that we can renew your book” rather than “if
       you don’t call us, you will start to build up a fine”
  8.   Use lists where appropriate – normally for 3 or more items
  9.   Avoid capital letters for whole words – use bold for emphasis


  To find out more, see http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/plainenglishguide.html

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