Scrutiny Committee to discuss Communications (Telephone and Website) and clarify their intentions before a formal report is received, a review is undertaken or some other course of action is to be followed.
Following a written request from the committee, the Head of Customer and Neighbourhood Services and the Customer Communications & Engagement Lead attended the meeting on 13 September 2018 to discuss the performance of the Council’s Communications, answer members’ queries, and find out how the committee would like to progress with the issue.
Contact Centre – The Head of Customer & Neighbourhood Services informed members that in addition to there being a 12% average vacancy rate in the contact centre, When we compare Q1 2017 and Q1 2018 customer contact then there had been a 49% increase in calls, 14% increase in emails and 93% increase in web enquiries. The number of customers visiting our 3 reception centres has also increased by 5% this period. Although the department had an agreed headcount of 45 FTE staff, when taking into account vacancies, annual leave, sickness and training it left approx. 19 FTE staff to deal with all customer contact calls, online transactions and social media interactions and this staff shortage had contributed to delays.
Members queried why there was a high staff turnover in the Customer Contact Centre, and were informed that this was an entry level job which meant that there was often movement to different jobs within the Council. Due to the high staff turnover, the Council had recently held an open day at which they handed out job packs to interested parties with the intention of over-recruiting and backfilling posts.
Members suggested that the department should have more than 45 FTE, whether that was on a permanent or a temporary basis, especially considering the anticipated additional impact with the Universal Credit roll out on 26 September 2018.
The Cabinet Member for People and Performance, Councillor Merry, informed members that she had been working closely with officers and the leader of the Council to address these problems and make improving the Customer Contact Centre a priority. There were currently alternatives which were being discussed, such as reconsidering how many FTE staff the Customer Contact Centre needed, having group training sessions, and creating a bank of staff to backfill posts.
Members commented that they had received feedback from the public praising the reception staff for their patience and helpfulness.
Website – The Customer Communications & Engagement Leadinformed members that comments from previous Scrutiny Committee meetings were taken into consideration, and there was a huge amount of work taking place to improve the Council’s website accessibility and usability including:
· Improved search function on the website
Officers recognised that the channel shift was not as progressed as they had anticipated at this stage; however they were working on identifying problems and responding to feedback and hoped that continued improvements being made to the website would encourage more users to go online.
Members noted the excellent response time for social media.
1. That members noted the update provided by officers regarding communications; and
Demonstrating the Scrutiny Committee’s capacity to invite any senior officer to attend before it to explain in relation to matters within their remit, the committee had requested that the Head of Customer & Neighbourhood Services and the Customer Communications & Engagement Lead attend the meeting on 13 September 2018 to discuss the performance of the Council’s communications.