Agenda item

Customer Experience Strategy (Key Decision)

Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities and HR to consider the Council’s position in updating and developing a Customer Experience Strategy that meets the current and future needs of our customers, visitors and businesses.

Decision:

Decision:

 

1.     That Cabinet approves the Customer Experience Strategy.

2.     That Cabinet commissions the consultation for proposed changes to the Stamford and Market Deeping area offices.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

1.    The report of the Cabinet Member for Communities and HR on the Council’s Customer Experience Strategy.

2.    The strategy is a vital part of the transformation of the Council and sets out how the Council will deliver services in the future.

3.    There is a need to create a modern, flexible customer experience, offering choice and delivering convenience to all customers, businesses and visitors. Services must maximise the use of all channels available and improve hours of accessibility by promoting self-service for all transactions. This will make it easy to do business with SKDC whilst actively supporting those most vulnerable. 

4.    Cabinet recognises that approximately 15 percent of the community need non-digital support including face to face and telephone contact.

5.    Comments of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee

 

Other options considered and rejected:

 

The consequence of the Cabinet not approving the strategy impacts on the Council’s ability to effectively improve the customer experience.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Communities and HR presented a report which had been considered widely by Members and by the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  Constructive comments and suggestions had been incorporated where appropriate.  He referred to the anticipated budgetary saving of £81k in 2020/21 which could be achieved as a result of delivering the service in the new ways proposed.  The report set out a shift in the way the Council communicated with people which was a vital part of the transformation of the Council.  There was a need to create a modern, flexible customer experience which offered choice and delivered convenience to customers, businesses and visitors. Services needed to maximise the use of all channels available and improve hours of accessibility by promoting self-service for all transactions.  He recognised that approximately 15 percent of the district did not have digital skills and gave assurance that face to face and telephone support would remain available for the most vulnerable. 

 

The Cabinet Member explained that North (Grantham) and South (Bourne) hubs would be created in the district providing digital services, payment kiosks, face to face support, enhanced access to web forms and signposting alongside the library services.  There would be consultation on the removal of permanent face to face provision in Stamford and Market Deeping.  It was considered that both sites managed transactions that could be facilitated through alternative solutions including an appointments system.

 

A non-Cabinet Member spoke on the proposals and was concerned that the decision had been made to close Stamford and the Deepings before the consultation and she felt that all the details were not available that affected the future service for the communities most affected.  The Member referred to potential difficulties faced by service users and particularly those connected with the Blind Society.  She said that public transport across the district did not help the situation for being able to travel to one of the towns where the face to face service was available. She also felt uncomfortable with the term customers as it implied there was a choice of where to go for services, when residents of the district had no choice but to use the District Council. 

 

The Leader responded that the Council aimed to serve all people of the district and provide the best quality service possible.  The transformation arrangements were part an important part of improvements to move the Council forward.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities and HR responded on the term customer and suggested this could be client but felt the policy recognised the whole community.   He endorsed and reiterated the position of those who needed a more personalised service such as telephone conversations or face to face interactivity.  There would be a request service for a home visit and appointments could be made by anyone who felt they needed this service.  He mentioned that due to the potential for savings and a more modern approach to service delivery, the Council had to be resourceful in balancing the benefit of savings whilst still providing a good customer service. 

The Chairman of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee supported the strategy and felt that making all Council services more digitally available was what the majority preferred.  He felt this was already the norm in booking doctor appointments and dealing with tax returns. He reiterated the need to ensure that those who could not use the technology were provided for.

 

The non-Cabinet Member who spoke previously understood that change could not be stopped and the strategy would be approved but still felt that conducting the consultation after approving the strategy was badly timed.

 

The recommendations in the report were proposed, seconded and AGREED:

 

1.      That Cabinet approves the Customer Experience Strategy.

2.      That Cabinet commissions the consultation for proposed changes to the Stamford and Market Deeping area offices.

Supporting documents: