Agenda item

Question to the Leader from Councillor Michal Siewniak


“Since becoming a councillor, I have been contacting the Council Officers, pretty much on a daily basis. Most of the time, Officers respond quickly, and with relevant information, which is great as it enables me, and my fellow Cllrs, to get back to my resident with an update and manage their expectations.


I understand that during the pandemic, many of us had an opportunity to work from home. The hybrid model is important as it also gives us an opportunity to strike the right work-life balance. However, due to these exceptional circumstances, many of our more vulnerable residents have struggled to get hold of Council and at times, Council Officers.


As a Council, I know that we want to "champion" residents' engagement and ensure that we always put our community first. It is absolutely critical. With this in mind, I would like to ask the following question. What is the Council tangibly doing to ensure an excellent access to our services, on and off-site? I also wonder whether the 'service level agreement' for responding to councillor's and residents queries, has been implemented?




The Leader asked Councillor T.Mitchinson (Executive Member, Leisure and Community), to answer:-


Thank you, Councillor Siewniak for your question.


As many of the members know already, we are carrying out a council-wide review of customer service as our contact centre and reception will be brought in-house at the end of the Sopra Steria contract in December this year.  This will also be developed into a brand new Customer Service Strategy, which will set out our commitments to residents and members.  The setting of SLA will be very much part of this strategy.


We are all committed to putting customers at the centre of what we do and one of the first actions we have undertaken is to create a new Assistant Director post with dedicated responsibilities of customers and transformation.  The new postholder has already carried out a number of staff workshops to review the current systems and policies.  Our next stage is to engage with members in the coming weeks as part of the development of the new Customer Service Strategy and agreeing new SLAs will be part of this.


We are fully aware that some of our customers will still want to talk to us via telephone.  We have recently rolled out an integration between Microsoft teams and our phone system, along with a review of our call groups which should assist officers with customer contact on and off site. Further improvements are being made to our phone messaging for our busier teams, including Repairs, Council Tax and Benefits, which will allow customers to understand their position in a call queue. 


We are also continuing to roll out our new customer contact system, Jadu and promote customers contacting us online where possible. Jadu has the capability for customers to receive clear acknowledgements and timescales for a response, giving the customer confidence that their query is being dealt with. We will also be shortly trailing an online booking appointment system for the planning team, which if successful, will be rolled out for other services.     


We look forward to working on the Customer Service Strategy with you, but in the meantime, if members are not receiving a response on your queries in a timely manner, can I please ask you to contact the relevant Head of Service and / or Portfolio holder?”