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									Cabinet – 8 November 2007

Report of Acting Director of Customer Access

                                                        Part I - Item No. 4 (a)

                                                        Electoral Division affected:

Customer Access - Update

Contact for further information:
Gabby Nelson,(01772) 537303, Adult and Community Services

Executive Summary

This report outlines the progress made in developing the work of the four streams of
the Customer Access Strategy: Putting the Customer First, Face to Face, Telephony
and Self Service since the Cabinet meeting on 5 September 2006, which considered
the Audit Commission Performance Summary Report on Customer Access and the
Overview and Scrutiny report on Shared Services Contact Centre Review and the
Customer Access Strategy – A Governance Framework.


The Cabinet is recommended to note the report and to seek a further update in April


At the meeting of the Cabinet on 12 July 2007, a report from the Director of
Customer Access was received on the progress made in delivering the Customer
Access Strategy. The Cabinet noted the progress and sought a further update.

This report not only sets out the continued progress in implementing the Customer
Access Strategy but also sets it in the context of the full year‟s progress following the
reports presented to the Cabinet meeting of 5th September 2006. The reports were
the Audit Commission Performance Summary Report on Customer Access, the
Overview and Scrutiny Report – Shared Services Contact Centre Review
and the Customer Access Strategy – A Governance Framework.


During the discussions with District Councils which preceded the establishment of
the Shared Services Contact Centre, the key driving force behind the Vision was of
improved access for citizens to Council services and information across a number of
channels. In particular, the vision was that the Shared Services Contact Centre
would provide the following benefits:-.

   Increased convenience for the customer due to the introduction of streamlined
    telephone numbers for each Council.
   Access to a wider range of Council information and services.
   Easier access to the Council for customers.
   Improved service delivery for the customer.

As this was recognised as significant improvement in the services we provided to the
public of Lancashire, it was funded by an investment from the E-Government

The County Council also agreed a phased approach to joining up the telephony
services provided by the Customer Service Centre with a target that at the end of the
implementation period all initial telephone enquiries from the public would be
responded to by or through the Customer Service Centre. That target will be
achieved by 31 March 2008.

As the County Council‟s original vision recognised that there were a number of
channels for contact with the customer in addition to the telephone, a Customer
Access Strategy was developed. This was agreed formally by the Cabinet in
May 2006.

At the same time as the Customer Access Strategy was being developed, the
Lancashire Efficiency Initiative (LEI) was also emerging. This was documented
when the County Management Board (CMB) finalised its vision for the
Transformational Programme for Business Change at an Away Day on
5 February 2007 – (see Appendix A).

As can be seen, in addition to providing a strategic approach to the LEI, the
Transformational Programme for Business Change “puts customers at the heart of
our services by better integrating data, functions and people with the majority of
customer access to the Council being through the Website, the Red Rose Hub and
the new gateways”.

As part of this Transformational Programme, the Lancashire Efficiency Board agreed
that the framework for all future Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) reviews at
the County Council would be based on the SPRINT methodology. It also agreed the
immediate priorities for the Business Analyst team using this methodology. One of
these was a BPR review of “Highways Enquiries” and that review has started. The
objectives of the review are shown at Appendix B. It is proposed that this approach
will be applied to all major services where telephone enquiries are handled by the
Customer Service Centre.

Governance of the Implementation of the Customer Access Strategy

Following the consideration by the Cabinet of both the Audit Commission and
Overview and Scrutiny reports in September 2006, the governance arrangements for
implementing the Customer Access Strategy were changed.

In particular, the following groups were created:-

Cabinet Working Group on Customer Access – this is a cross-party working group
which is chaired by the Deputy Leader.
Customer Access Steering Group – the representatives on this group are all the
Executive Directors and it is chaired by the Executive Director of Adult and
Community Services.
Customer Access Strategy Delivery Team – this comprises the leads for each
Directorate on customer access together with the leads for the individual activity
streams. It is chaired by the Director of Customer Access.

The revised governance arrangements have been successful as is evidenced by the
progress on all four workstreams described below.

1. Putting the Customer First

A draft Customer Service Charter was developed in early 2007 and subjected to a
consultation exercise involving the public and staff. Responses were analysed and
presented to the Cabinet Working Group on Customer Access at its meeting on 19
June. In summary, the draft Charter was well received in principle by both public
and staff but some elements were seen as unworkable in practice and others raised
a number of significant organisational development issues. There were also
criticisms of the way the Charter was written, for example, too much jargon. A
number of recommendations were made to the Cabinet Working Group relating to
the future development of the Charter and the organisational processes necessary to
deliver the commitments effectively.

Since August the authority has had the assistance of Neil Cumberlidge from GONW
who has been working over a 2 month period on an updated Customer Charter. This
work has entailed meeting with directorate focus groups and revisiting the previous
work in this area but also looking at good practice elsewhere.

The key deliverables of this piece of work will be a revised Customer Charter and
companion staff handbook and also an implementation plan. A report is due to go to
County Management Board on 12 November.

2. Telephony Stream

(a) County Council Developments

The operation of services within the Customer Service Centre now falls into two
categories and these are described as generic services and the specialism of Social

  Care. The specialism covers both Adults and Children‟s social care services
  currently but in accordance with the Every Child Matters agenda it is expected that
  the future will bring a second specialism of children‟s.

  The last twelve months has seen significant growth in telephony services within the
  Customer Service Centre. To illustrate the extent of the growth the table below
  compares call statistics for the periods – April 06 to Sept 06 and April 07 to Sept 07.
  This is for generic services only but clearly illustrates the growth and increase in
  business which is currently a 92 percent increase compared with the same period
  last year.

                                April 2006 – Sept 2006        April 2007 – Sept 2007
  Calls answered                          116,897                       224,688
  Average wait time                     36 seconds                    28 seconds
  Average call duration                  2.48 mins                     3.16 mins
  % calls answered within                   73%                         75.41%
  20 seconds
  Average number of email                   431                           838
  and     online     contacts
  processed per week

  Full annual call volume statistics for current services or part year where applicable are as follows:

                        Call Volumes October 2006-September 2007
                                                     Calls        Calls                 Calls
                     Service                      Answered     Abandoned              Offered
Blue Badges                                         13281         1015                 14296
Childcare Information Service (from 27.06.07)        3373         256                   3629
Concessionary Travel (NoWCard)                      18983         2006                 20989
Corporate Vacancies (from 12.03.07)                  2635         230                   2865
Directory Enquiries                                  6958         1221                  8179
Lancashire Highways                                 67372         9777                 77149
Registration Service (from 08.01.07)                52968         5816                 58784
Safer Travel Line (ASBoB)                             356         129                    485
Schools Admissions                                    804         114                    918
School Transport                                     9019         786                   9805
Signposting                                        109698        14605                124303
TOTALS                                             285447        35955                321402

In addition a customer perception survey of the Customer Service Centre user-base
is being carried out from late October to establish the level of satisfaction with the
services being provided. This will be one of the key indicators that will be included in
a Customer Access dashboard which is being developed and will cover KPI‟s for all
aspects of customer access. It is intended to start publishing this dashboard on a
monthly basis commencing January 2008.

The staffing numbers have also grown over the last twelve months as services have
migrated. The current staffing numbers compared to the same time last year are as

                                     Nov 2006                      Nov 2007
Generic CSO‟s                 34 CSO‟s, 26.36 FTE           54 CSO‟s, 45.67 FTE
Social Care                             None                55 CSO‟s, 49.57 FTE
Total                                    34                 99 CSO‟s, 95.24 FTE

A significant development since September 2006 and currently the key priority for
the telephony stream is the integration of social care. As mentioned earlier this is
defined as a „specialism‟ and in itself has brought some major challenges.

The project involves bringing the customer care function of 21 local offices covering
all aspects of social care. The transfer began in January and by the end of October
twelve of the offices will have been transferred to the Customer Service Centre at
The Red Rose Hub representing just over fifty percent of the anticipated volumes
when fully migrated. The table below shows the steady increase in social care calls
as offices have migrated to the Customer Service Centre.

                 Mar 07         May 07         Jul 07         Sept 07        Oct 07
Calls            7,020          9,494          11,486         12,593         16,725

At the outset it was known that this particular project was leading edge. Various
benchmarking visits to authorities such as Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and
Salford and other intelligence gathered through speaking to various contacts clearly
demonstrated that whilst social care was cited as a service being delivered through a
centralised customer service centre, the reality is that this is at a very low level of
service integration. The experience has been one of continuous learning and the
operational model is under continuous review.

In both anticipation and in learning from current experience recruitment of a further
twenty social care CSO‟s has taken place with start dates for training of 22 October
and 5 November which will enable the remaining offices to be migrated.

An independent assessment of the social care operation at the CSC is currently
being undertaken and the results of this are due mid/late November. One of the key
outcomes from this review will be key performance measures appropriate to the
social care function.

The full list of services to be integrated by the end of March 2008 is as follows:

Blue Badges
Certificate Services
Childcare Information Services
Concessionary Travel – NoWcard
Corporate Vacancies
Directory Enquiries
General Enquiries
Interpretation and Translation Services
Lancashire Highways
Safer Travel Line
School Admissions
Schools Transport
Social Care
Waste Helpline

The current hours for handling telephone enquiries are 8am – 5pm for generic
services and 8.45am – 5pm for social care. During the summer an exercise was
conducted to test customer requirement for late opening hours. Due to the
uncomfortable 2006 peak on School Transport Enquiries it was decided to keep this
line open till 8pm for a 2-week window at the start of the 07/08 school year, with the
welcome message on this service duly amended to reflect the extended opening
hours. Call volumes were low each day during the extended hours with only a
handful of calls arriving each day – a total of 66 over the 2-week period. This
exercise served to prove that the CSC could readily adapt service closure times at
short notice to perhaps react to a specific event, however it failed to confirm the
economics of extended hours opening until 8pm. Further exercises will take place
during the winter e.g. should weather conditions affect enquiry levels to particular
services. However, this exercise coupled with examination of existing attempts to
contact the service out of hours has identified that there may be a business case for
extending hours until 6pm. Current staff contracts already exist to cover this period
and some staff already work until 6pm covering clerical duties. The business case for
this will be looked at along with the feasibility of Saturday morning opening. It is
expected that a business case will have been prepared by end of December.

(b) Partnership Developments

One of the findings of both the Audit Commission and the Overview and Scrutiny
Committee related to project management of the various streams of the customer
access strategy and in particular the contract with Northgate Information Systems
(NIS) to deliver the Shared Services Contact Centre project and objectives. Much
work has been undertaken over the last twelve months dealing with project
management, governance and contract management.

At the meeting of the Shared Service Partnership on 17 May 2007 members voted
unanimously for a statement of change to the contract with Northgate. The main
impact of the Statement of Change to the contract was that responsibility for
supplying and supporting the Data Centre, Data and Voice Networks and Desktop
Services to the Partnership has been transferred from Northgate Information
Systems to the County Council. This migration has been implemented successfully
and will produce a reduction in expenditure compared with the original contract of
£3.2 million over the remaining four years and eight months life of the contract.

In addition, as part of the Statement of Change to the contract, Partnership members
were given the option of using Northgate‟s Front Office CRM system rather than the
Onyx system included in the original contract. The implementation of Front Office by
the District Councils has commenced.

For the County Council, the Director of Customer Access and his staff carried out a
detailed evaluation of the Front Office option compared with the in-house ACORN
CRM system which is currently being used for all County Council services provided
from the Customer Service Centre (including Social Care). The results of the
evaluation were reported to the Customer Access Steering Group which has recently
decided to continue with the successful ACORN system and not to implement the
Front Office option. It needs to be stressed that this is a decision made in the best
interests of the County Council and its services being delivered through the customer
service centre and Front Office is clearly the best way forward for the District
partners and their services.

This decision does not affect the County Council‟s involvement in the Partnership.
We believe the Partnership is flourishing and we are committed to delivering the new
vision for the Partnership which was agreed at the meeting in May 2007. In
particular, the Partnership will benefit from :-

   a shared telephony platform with the ability to transfer calls through the shared

   the sharing of service information between partner organisations using an
    agreed data interchange format.

   the sharing of self service/web forms to enable services to be delivered on behalf
    of each other.

3. Face to Face Stream

The Varney report in December 2006 described the need for local authorities to
transform their services to provide a better service for citizens and a better deal for
taxpayers. It focussed on the need to change the channels through which services
are delivered and accessed. Wherever possible, citizens need to be encouraged and
supported to use the self service and telephony delivery streams. Those who are
unable, or unwilling to use the self service approach, need to be identified for a
targeted Face to Face service in order to provide them with the same consistency
and equality of access to services as received by those citizens who are willing and
able to use the Internet and/or telephone.

The findings of the Equality of Access research study were considered alongside
other supporting information. Together these confirmed that certain groups of
citizens are more likely to fall into the category that are unable, or perhaps unwilling,
to use the internet or the telephone to access services. These people can broadly be
split into the following five groups where a greater proportion of people may require a
face to face service :-

           Older people (65+)
           Disabled people
           BME citizens
           Rural communities
           Disadvantaged communities

The Face to Face approach will be developed in a way that complements the work of
the two more-established delivery streams (self service and telephony). It will also
ensure clear links into other corporate-wide strategies or agendas, including:

   the South Lancashire Area Review
   the Gateway Development
   Equality & Diversity
   the Locality agenda
   Community Cohesion

As previously reported a small project team has been established and has been
undertaking a research and development pilot to inform the future planning of this
delivery stream.

The pilot involves two experienced Customer Service Officers (CSO), using mobile
technology, visiting a variety of sites to determine the most appropriate venues and
to explore the most appropriate service delivery channels to enable us to
successfully target our delivery to those identified as requiring a Face to Face offer.
Their work is threefold and includes:

       CSO support, using mobile technology linked to the corporate county wide
       Research of need, using citizen focused questionnaires.

      Venue evaluation, using 360 degree questionnaires and exit interviews.

Venues have included libraries, children‟s centres, post offices, supermarkets,
District Councils‟ one stop shops and even citizen‟s homes.

It is important to emphasise that it is not the intention to develop the Face to Face
stream at the expense of the other more cost-effective access channels. Face to
Face delivery will only be provided where necessary and, even then, one of the main
measures of success will be how many people accessing Face to Face are
successfully encouraged, supported and trained to “change channel” and access
services via the web/telephone channels. Appendix C contains a case study that
explains just how this is being done for school admissions.

Using this approach the strategy will aim to identify and bridge any gaps between the
customer and the internet/telephony access routes.

To do this the Face to Face strategy will need to be flexible and responsive,
providing a different service offer level at different times of the year, in a variety of
venues, based on analysis of the research and need identified.

In addition to the “fieldwork” element of the pilot the Team are undertaking various
consultation exercises including:

      Locality Focus Groups (LFG)– presentations are being delivered to each
       group to ensure that key officers and councillors are informed of the proposals
       and encouraged to contribute their views and suggestions. Many successful
       leads have been obtained via this route and feedback has been extremely

      Lancashire Locals – it is intended to roll out the work we have undertaken with
       the LFGs to the Lancashire Locals to obtain wider involvement and input.

The Face to Face pilot is due to end in December 2007 and the findings will be
collated and analysed to inform the recommendations that will be included in the
strategy proposal that will be submitted to Cabinet in April 2008.

4. Self Service

The Self Service Stream continues its development and the implementation of the
agreed Web Strategy is driving activity. The Corporate Web and Intranet Strategy
Group (CWISG) carefully monitor this regularly and are in fact reviewing the strategy
itself to ensure it continues to support the delivery of the Customer Access Strategy.

CWISG has continued to implement the recommendations of the 2006 Audit
Commission Report along with the commitments made by the “Self Service” stream
in 2006. In order to do this the Website and Intranet have been included in the
Management Framework for Core ICT Systems along with additional ICT policies
which provide a corporate approach to all work undertaken for the web. These
include keeping the website up to date along with development standards to provide
                                                         - 10 -

a consistent experience for our citizens. The website has been audited to provide a
portfolio of our content. This will be kept topical through the use our emerging Quality
Framework which is intended to drive the website towards the “best in class
standards” as stated in the Self Service Stream commitments.

Usage of the internet continues to increase and this needs to be capitalised upon as
part of the channel optimisation targets for the Customer Access Strategy. The table
below illustrates this increased usage.

                                             Visitors By Month








                     Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun     Jul    Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

Development of the website has continued throughout the year. One significant
addition to the website has been the introduction of an electronic forms tool and the
website now has approximately 140 forms allowing citizens to transact online. This
self service facility does not only apply to citizens but in addition there are another 90
forms on the intranet for staff use and a further 40 deployed on the School‟s Portal
for transacting with

In addition to electronic forms there has also been significant progress on self
service with automatic integration to the Back Office process. Examples of these

Blue Badges
Schools Admissions
Children‟s Service Directory
FIND – Directory of Children‟s Service Providers
Incey – Resource Booking System for Childminders
                                         - 11 -

The next major development on the self service front relates to a citizens secure
portal. This has been named „Lancashire County Online‟ and will allow citizens to
register securely with the authority and carry out a number of identified transactions.
Initially this will be for online payments and applying for a job. This will be the
preferred method for all future transactional services deployed in the future.

Much work is continuing with our district partners looking at ways of ensuring that it
is easy to move between County Council and District Council websites for service

Feedback from customers is continually sought and used to help improve the web
strategy and development. Feedback sources include citizens‟ feedback from Life in
Lancashire, E-Mail Survey of the Website and from the LEI Wave 16 report. Since
June 2006 the County Council has used the independent Website Take-up Survey
provided by Society of IT Managers (Socitm). One in five visits to the County
Council's website are presented with a questionnaire and Socitm provides a monthly
analysis of the feedback from the questionnaires.


In summary it can be seen that substantial progress has been made in implementing
the Customer Access Strategy over the last twelve months, as is evidenced by :-

   Putting the Customer First
    A Customer Charter, together with the implementation plan, is being considered
    by CMB in November 2007.

   Telephone Contact
    Following a recent visit by a number of County Councillors to The Hub on
    14 September 2007, the feedback from one of the County Councillors was “The
    atmosphere is one of a very happy place to work and I am convinced great
    improvements have been made. I look forward to continued success until my
    next visit”. There has been a significant increase in the volume and variety of
    telephone contacts at The Hub.

   Face to Face
    In addition to the ongoing face to face contact with the public through Libraries,
    Customer Information Centres, Welfare Rights etc, a strategy for targeting this
    form of contact to those who need it will be produced by 31 March 2008.

   Self Service
    In addition to the 70% increase in visits to our Website in 2006/07, over 80%
    classified their visit as successful, ie they found the information they wanted and
    85% said they were likely to revisit the site.


Members are asked to note this report and seek a further update report in April 2008
                                       - 12 -





Alternative options to be considered

Implications: e.g. Financial, Legal, Personnel, Human Rights, Crime and Disorder
or Other


Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985
List of Background Papers

Paper                              Date                Contact/Directorate/Ext

Audit Commission –                 June 2006           Gabby Nelson, Adult and
Performance Summary Report                             Community Services
                                                       Directorate, Ext: 37303

Overview & Scrutiny – Shared       August 2006         Gabby Nelson, Adult and
Services Contact Centre Review                         Community Services
                                                       Directorate, Ext: 37303

Customer Access Strategy – A       September 2006      Gabby Nelson, Adult and
 Governance Framework                                  Community Services
                                                       Directorate, Ext: 37303

Equal Access Research Project      December 2006       Gabby Nelson, Adult and
                                                       Community Services
                                                       Directorate, Ext: 37303
Customer Access Cabinet Report     February 2007
Customer Access Cabinet Report     July 2007           Gabby Nelson, Adult and
                                                       Community Services
                                                       Directorate, Ext: 37303

Proposed Variations to Existing    May 2007            Shared Service
Contractual Arrangements                               Partnership

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