To receive an update from the Director of Resources on the ongoing transformation of customer contact.
Those present for this item were:
Cllr D Coupar – Executive Member
Polly Cook – Chief officer Sustainable Energy and Air Quality
Sonia Macdonald – Head of Shared Services
Andrew Byrom – Head of Cloud and Platforms
Polly Cook introduced the item setting out the progress of the programme of transformation within the contact centre since the last report to the Scrutiny Board in February 2022. She highlighted that the report provided to members included an overview of work volumes and performance in the contact centre.
Key areas of interest included customer satisfaction, staffing levels, digital improvements, and the anticipated benefits of a Council Tax automation project.
The Scrutiny Board explored the outcomes of an improved digital offer for residents who wish to self-serve online. The use of new online forms in areas such as refuse, reduce calls to the contact centre and release capacity within the team. It is hoped this will help reduce overall waiting times.
The Board was informed that significant benefits are also being realised from the introduction of online forms for registrar services and to capture information required from landlords in relation to a third-party change of address.
An update was provided about progress with a project to automate several council tax processes to reduce calls to the contact centre.
The Board noted the need for the contact centre to be agile enough to respond to spikes in demand relating to factors outside of the Council’s control – for example, a recent increase in cases relating to welfare support.
The Chair asked that it be noted that the Board welcomed the openness with which performance has been discussed since 2021, and he reiterated the support of members for the transformation programme.
Assurances were sought about the way in which calls are handled which highlight an adult safeguarding concern. Polly confirmed that calls relating to Adult Social Care are treated as a high priority and should be answered in 2 minutes. She also informed members that the staff handling those calls are highly trained and have direct routes into the service.
Polly Cook was asked to circulate a summary of call volumes and waiting times for Adult Social Care for the period April – August 2022, via the Principal Scrutiny Advisor.
Concern was expressed about the potential time taken to relay messages about the refuse service via the contact centre to the operatives who can take action to collect missed bins.
In response, officers noted that where services are using legacy systems not all functions can be integrated. Further improvements will follow as systems are updated.
The Scrutiny Board queried whether it is possible to trace whether a case has been resolved, particularly where a legacy system is in place.
Members recommended that further consideration be given as to how evidence of customer satisfaction can be produced in the context of the increased use of online forms.
Officers updated the Board on work with the Communications and Marketing Team on the corporate approach to mass communications issued by the Council. It is anticipated that clearer, more accessible communication could reduce avoidable contact coming into the contact centre.
Cllr Coupar reiterated that there is a focus on increasing digital self-service options for customers. However, she assured Board members the option to call the contact centre would also remain in place.
Board members sought assurances that elected members would retain a priority contact system to assist with case work. Cllr Coupar noted that dedicated member inboxes should be in place for all services.
Members discussed staffing levels in the contact centre given the recruitment freeze announced in response to the current budget challenge.
The Board considered the development of Chatbot technology, PowerApps and the procurement of a cloud-based phone system. It was confirmed that future rollouts would all be compatible with mobile technology.
Members sought and received reassurance that IDS regard the contact centre transformation as an organisational priority.
Members agreed that:
- The report be noted.
- Polly Cook / Sonia Macdonald to share chart summarising call volumes and waiting times for Adult Social Care in the period April – August 2022.
Cllr France-Mir left the meeting at the end of this item.