Agenda item

Annual Assurance Report on Arrangements In Relation To Customer Contact and Satisfaction

To consider a report by the Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare which  presents the annual update on customer contact and satisfaction levels with customer services delivered through Customer Access on behalf of the Council.



(Report attached)





The Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare submitted a report which presented the annual update on customer contact and satisfaction levels

delivered through Customer Access on behalf of the Council.


Addressing the report the Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare reported that in March 2020 significant changes were made to enable the council to respond to the Covid pandemic. Members were informed that

workplaces were closed, some services suspended, whilst others were

delivered with less face to face contact and within Covid secure working practises, 97% of the contact centre worked from home. Work took place to develop a new phone line to address customers’ Covid support needs, and staff were retrained and deployed from other areas of the council to take calls, and respond to need. In the face to face service new methods of delivery were established including phone appointments, and click and collect library arrangements.


·  In total, 790,591 calls were answered this year, an 8.5% increase from last year (729,302).


·  The number of abandoned calls fell significantly in the last year from 208,988 to 113,186; an improvement of approx. 45%. This was due to the improvement in call wait times.


·  The Covid line handled a total of 28,500 calls between 23rd March – 31st August and LWSS handled 24573 calls over the same period (12394 relating to food and 12179 relating to finance).


·  Over 7,000 Befriending calls were made by Library Service.


Members sought clarification on the telephone lines for Waste Services and Highways querying if these services could by contacted via telephone.


Members were informed that non-priority phone lines had been closed which included Waste, Highways (non-emergency), large item collections, and environmental action but all were still contactable via the Contact Centre main switchboard (golden number) and the website.


Members welcomed the improvements around call wait times and suggested it would be helpful to see the distribution of calls by wait time.


It was suggested that such information would be difficult and complicated to provide as the level of demand changes throughout the week. Officers confirmed that further enquiries would be made.


Members noted and welcomed the increase in web usage. Referring to the completion of on-lines forms (C360) Members queried if the progress of these forms could be tracked.


Members were informed that an in-house tracking system was currently being developed, once complete customers would be able to track their own requests.


Commenting on call waiting times for Council Tax and Housing Benefits, it  was noted that waiting times were often in excess of 10 minutes, Members suggested lengthy waiting times may be difficult for customers who may be calling from work during their break time.


The Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare acknowledged there was significant demand for some services (Housing Services issues could only be dealt with via telephone for example) but overall there had been an fall in call waiting times. In the next 12 months it is intended to introduce a text message service which will be available 9.00am to 5.00pm and could further reduce call waiting times.


With reference to complaints, in particular complaints to the Ombudsman, Members queried, as a percentage, how often was a complaint upheld.


Members were informed that on average approximately 20% of complaints would be upheld by the Ombudsman. It was agreed that further information on this will be provided to Members.




(i)    That the contents of the report be noted


(ii)    To support the work outlined to develop the approach further


(iii)    To recognise the developments outlined which will further   enhance customers’ experiences


(iv)    To receive an assessment of the council wide changes, as they   relate to customer satisfaction with customer services, in next year’s report


Supporting documents: