To provide members with a brief overview of Customer Services. It specifically considers the operation of the services over the last financial year ending March 2023 and identifies emerging trends of operation comparing this with the operation over the previous 3-5 years.
Before inviting the report to be presented the Chair thanked the Customer Services Manager and her team for the tour that had been provided for some members today it had been gratefully received. The Customer Services Manager confirmed that the report provided members with an overview of the customer services performance in 2022/23 and it identified merging operational trends compared to the previous 3 – 5 years. She confirmed that since October 2022 a security team had been implemented at both the Civic Centre and Bognor Regis Town Hall for the safety of staff and customers, as well as providing security services they also provide our customers with a triage service. When surveyed customers had fedback that they were happy to speak and interact with the security staff and understood why they were in place. Since April 2023 to August 2023, they have handled a total of 3137 customer interactions. She confirmed that over 6500 webchats had been handled this year almost double what had been handled for the last period. As documented in the report, reporting on data was easily managed in house and allowed for better internal management. One trend highlighted from the data was a decrease in telephone calls received, she explained that this was due to a change in contact pattern from customers and further detail was provided at paragraph 4.3. She also highlighted that appendix 5 showed a decrease in customers who visited the council’s reception areas, this was believed to be due to customers using the councils’ online services.
The Chair then invited comments from members where further comments regarding the customer services tour where heard, it was commented by one member that they were amazed at the fantastic job completed by the team, it was acknowledged that this role was varied and not always easy and there was a concern for the mental well-being of staff given the variety of issues that they deal with. Comments regarding staffing of the team were also raised, where it was noted that the team were already 1 staff member down with 2 more retiring in the new year and should recruitment for these positions not be well underway by now. This was also echoed by other members who had been in attendance on the tour where it was stated that as the team who were front facing, they should be afforded the highest priority for recruitment. It was also recommended that future tours for members be organised and all members should attend. Further discussion was had regarding the need for the security team to be in place and the Chair stated that he had previously raised concerns about the need for the team, however he confirmed that after attending the tour he now understood fully why the team was needed and in place. Discussion then turned to the cost of employing an external company to provide this service and would it be more cost effective for the council to recruit its own security team. A query ... view the full minutes text for item 301