READING Council is embarking on a four-year programme to transform how it interacts with its residents, putting customers at the heart of everything it does.
Whether a local resident, business or partner, a new Customer Experience Strategy will give customers the option of connecting with the Council how and when they want to. The Council wants every single contact to be better, faster and simpler.
Over the last few years, Reading Borough Council has already made huge strides in how it interacts with customers and organisations. These include an increase in online transactional services, text messaging services and a ‘right first time’ approach across key areas.
There were 863,000 website visitors last year, 19,000 online accounts and 340,000 completed online forms. The Contact Centre team already holds Customer Contact Association (CCA) and Customer Service Excellence (CSE) awards. The new strategy however, will bring the quality of customer contact to a brand new level.
There remain many customer service functions across the Council that do not sit in the Customer Contact Centre. In some instances, this can create delays, inconsistency and confusion by adding unnecessary steps, which often results in customers having to follow up their original queries. For example, services outside of the Customer Contact Centre often operate to different service standards, with different opening times and multiple telephone numbers. This can create confusion for residents. The ‘customer’s journey’ with teams outside of the Contact Centre is similarly not measured in the same way.
Reading Borough Council now intends to address the fragmented approach by moving and managing high volume, transactional and assessment services under one team and at the same time improving self-serve options, adopting best practise digital innovation, so that they become the primary channel for simple and straightforward interactions. This approach allows the council to prioritise and maintain the necessary resources for those residents who may need additional specialist or one to one support.
The new Customer Experience Strategy is a four year programme of work, starting this year after it was approved at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee last month. Key milestones in year one will include moving to one telephone number, putting in place a new customer culture programme and implementing new core service standards. The Council will look at every ‘touch point’ with customers and streamline the customer journey to ensure the experience is consistent, positive and that the service is aligned to changing customer expectations and digital innovation.
Ellie Emberson, Lead Councillor for Corporate and Consumer Services at Reading Borough Council, said:
“For a number of years now the Council has been getting better at putting the customer at the heart of what we do. We already hold customer excellence awards for the services we provide, but we want to do even more and this new strategy will deliver a new quality of customer service altogether.
“By bringing transactional functions together into one team, while at the same time making it even easier for residents to self- serve, we can focus resources on helping and advising residents who require more specialist support and advice.
“Our vision is to achieve the best possible experience for our customers, whoever they are and whenever they deal with us. We want every single contact to be better, faster and simpler and this Customer Experience Strategy will help us achieve that.”
Reading Borough Council’s Customer Experience Strategy can be read in full at: https://www.reading.gov.uk/article/10404/Customer-care