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Customer Service Peer Review : How it can help and improve your customer service. 7 th June, 2006 Siobhan Coughlan Principal Consultant, IDeA. The Background. Customer Service Background. Front line services, organised departmentally for specific service areas Multiple contact points

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Customer service peer review how it can help and improve your customer service l.jpg

Customer Service Peer Review:How it can help and improve your customer service.

7th June, 2006

Siobhan Coughlan

Principal Consultant, IDeA

Customer service background l.jpg
Customer Service Background

  • Front line services, organised departmentally for specific service areas

  • Multiple contact points

  • Different opening hours

  • Different telephony, IT, information management systems

  • Different training & development opportunities for staff, (different uniforms)

  • Different feedback and response timescales

And the real customer experience l.jpg

Cartoon kindly provided by

…and the real customer experience?

Mrs Harris10 King StreetNone of your business

This is the Finance Dept. Name? Addressand date of birth?

This is Environment. Name? Addressand date of birth?

This is the Housing Dept. Name? Address?and date of birth?




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Modernising Government agenda

Local Government Act 2000,

Set a challenge for local authorities to look at:

  • Organisation & availability of services (LGOL programme)

  • Consultation with services users (Choice Agenda)

  • Best Value (Gershon Agenda)

  • Political structures, roles & responsibilities, scrutiny, (open & accountable)

  • Local Area Agreements (localism)

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e-Government agenda

  • LGOL programme central government investment over 5 years to all LA’s (funding in excess of £750 m)

  • BVPI 157target (electronic delivery of services)

  • Annual IEG statements

  • Priority Service Outcomes – targeting both key service areas (schools, environment, payments, benefits, etc) and use of technology (access channels, CRM, information management, etc.)

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The LA response?

  • Typically a technology driven programme of improvements (c/o IT department?)

  • Set up customer contact centres (extended opening hours, range of services, different channels)

  • Dedicated training programme & new career opportunities for staff on the frontline

  • Review of customer contact points

  • Re-organisation of services into front & back office (BPR)

  • Interactive websites (enabling self service for information & some transactions)

  • Created yet another service silo?

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……and the benefits?

  • Increased customer satisfaction levels (Reputation project)

  • Reduced lost/abandoned calls

  • Better understanding of customers – i.e.’Customer Intelligence’

  • Increased customer self-service via e-transactions on website, over the phone, etc.

  • Increased staff satisfaction levels, flexitime, better working environment, better equipment, etc.,

  • Cultural shift which now is more aware of the ‘customer’ rather than just providing the standard service

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Beyond 2005

  • CPA 2005 – specific reference to customer focus

  • Local Government Reputation project (perception versus reality?)

  • Efficiency Agenda (Gershon) return on investment

  • Choice agenda – local priorities determined with customers

  • Lyons Inquiry – greater local choice & freedom from central prescription & uniformity

  • Transformational Government - design citizen-centric services to ensure effectiveness of delivery

  • Varney Review – transforming services across the public sector

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CPA 2005, the harder test

  • Assessing the councils’ engagement with service users and wider communities and that such engagement makes a difference in practice.

  • Strengthening corporate assessments, i.e. the quality and robustness of councils’ own customer surveys, citizens’ panels and other consultation methods.

  • KLOE- User focus and diversity, a core element of the corporate assessment, from the key lines of enquiry (ambition through to achievement).

  • Findings on user focus and diversity will influence each theme score and therefore contribute to the overall corporate assessment score.

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Lyons Inquiry

  • Lyon’s Inquiry – choice & engagement with the community (final report in December 2006)

  • ‘National prosperity, local choice and civic engagement: a new partnership between central and local government for the 21st century’, Interim Report May ‘06

  • Greater choice not more central control

  • Recognition of local variation in need, preferences and provision

  • Local government – need for stronger leadership, closer engagement with residents, effective partnerships with other public sectors partners & businesses

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Children’s Act 2004

  • Response to Climbie Review

  • Establishment of Children’s Trusts – Director of Children’s Services & Lead member for Children’s Services

  • Re-organisation of services around a specific customer group

  • Closer working across traditional silo’s and with external partners

  • Better management and sharing information (supported by IT) to ensure a single customer view

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The Choice Agenda

Increasing empowerment for local people by:

  • Letting them shape local service delivery to meet local priorities

  • Using understanding of locale to shape how services are organised and delivered

  • Improving their access to information on how services are performing

  • Offering avenues for redress

  • Personalising services for individuals & groups

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Transformational Government 2005

‘Technology alone does not transform government, but government cannot transform to meet modern citizens’ expectations without it….’

The design of citizen-centric services to ensure effectiveness of delivery to the customer, achieve policy goals, and to release savings by reducing duplication and streamlining processes.

The Transformational Local Government discussion paper

  • Engaging with citizens and communities

  • Reshaping service delivery

  • Making it happen (resource planning & managing)

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The Varney Review

  • Review commissioned by the Treasury (budget 2006)

  • Sir David Varney to advise on opportunities for transforming the delivery of public services, will feed into Comprehensive Spending Review 2007

  • Main focus on efficiency gains & improving the customer experience in Improving the customer interface & Improving customer information management

  • Review due to deliver an interim report to the Chancellor in July and to be completed in Autumn 2006

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Customer Service as a means to an end

A key driver to help deliver a range of national agenda:

  • Improving access to services & information – across different channels

  • Acting as the first point of contact – ensuring consistency of customer experience

  • Joining up services across departments – more customer centric service

  • Helping redesign services (front & back office)

  • Improving quality of response – longer opening hours, use of CRM, self- service, shaping expectations, specific training, etc

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LGIP Peer Review Model

  • Established model (Corporate Peer Review)

  • ‘Critical friends’, not an inspection

  • Identifying and celebrating ‘good practice’

  • Highlighting areas for focus & development

  • Team of peers, i.e. practitioners not inspectors

  • Benchmark that mirrors area of focus for CPA

  • Tried and tested

  • Family of Peer Reviews, e.g. Efficiency, Procurement, Libraries, etc

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The Customer Service Peer Review

  • A cross cutting review of how a council is putting the customer at the heart of their services,

  • How the council is consulting and engaging customers

  • How services are delivered across different channels and in partnership with other organisations

  • What standards and performance measures are used

  • How staff are engaged, trained and supported to deliver services

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The objective of the Review

  • To constructively challenge an authority’s approach to and strategy for customer service

  • To assess if customer service is a focus throughout the authority (back office as well as customer-facing)

  • To assess the customer’s experience when they contact the council

  • To assess the consistency of the customer’s experience across all channels of contact

  • To assess the extent to which an authority is meeting the needs of its customers

  • To provide feedback, highlighting areas of ‘good practice’ as well as areas for development

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The Process of a Review

Council agrees to peer review

Peer Review Team Recruited

Self Assessment (against benchmark)

Documentation gathered

Mystery shopping exercise conducted

On-site Review


Report submitted/agreed/published

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The Review Team

  • 3 Officer Peers and a Review Manager

  • Option to add other expert or member if required

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Review Team Skills

  • Understanding of customer focus in public sector

  • Understanding of public sector customer groups and preferences

  • Understanding the opportunities technology can create

  • Providing challenge

  • Working with others

  • Organisational and political sensitivity

  • Developing people and organisations

  • Communicating and planning

  • Flexibility and stamina!

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Development of the CSPR

  • Researched good practice in customer service (private & public sector)

  • Reviewed all relevant documentation (e.g NeSDS, CPA 2005)

  • Established an officer reference group to scrutinise the benchmark

  • Recruited pilot authorities

  • Officer peers recruited for the review team for pilots

  • Review of benchmark and guidance post pilots

  • Recruiting pool of authorities for first tranche of reviews and to provide peers

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The Benchmark – key areas of focus

  • Leadership & Governance

  • Understanding & engagement of customers

  • Corporate approach to customer access

  • HR & organisational development

  • Programme management

  • ICT and IM strategies

  • Accommodation / property strategy

  • Service redesign

  • Communications strategy

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The pilots

3 Pilot Reviews,

  • To check the process

  • To test the benchmark

  • To check the skills mix of the team

    Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, 24th-26thJanuary

    High Peak Borough Council, 20th-22nd February

    LB Islington, 8th-10th March

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Feedback from the Pilots

’Good customer service should be at the top of a chief executive’s agenda. It is important to have a clear understanding about what the real customer experience feels like and a vision of what it could be to drive ongoing improvement.”

Caroline Tapster, Chief Executive, Hertfordshire County Council

‘This had given us a lot of food for thought around all aspects of how we move forward and how we link with corporate and community strategic aims’.

Mike Stroud, Deputy Town Clerk and Chief Executive, RBKC

‘’The process was a tremendous personal development opportunity. It has energised me and I’ve come back with lots of ideas about things I can do here’

Pat Harding, Director of Customer Service, Cambridge CC

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Supporting the Customer Service Agenda

Developing a Community of Practice:

  • Establish a credible reference group on customer services issues for local government (shape & influence policy & standards)

  • Online collaboration environment– share knowledge, learning, key documents, discussion forum, e-network,

  • Events – national & regional, workshops & conferences (e.g. CSPR launch conference, Varney Review workshop)