Time for councils to invest in customer service

Time for councils to invest in customer service

Published on: September 23, 2011
Author: Epticablog
News that Rochdale Council is proposing to cut £10 million of the services it provides, including a £3.1 million reduction in what it spends on customer service demonstrate the pressures that public sector are under. The council is looking to save £64 million by 2015, forcing it to make tough and often unpopular choices. Rochdale is not alone, as councils up and down the UK look to cut budgets to balance the books in the current economic situation.

As councils adopt new models it is obviously right that they scrutinise everything about their operations, and customer service should be included in this. However in challenging times, customer service mustn’t be cut altogether as it provides a public face for the council to the majority of citizens.

It can be done in a smarter, and often cheaper manner – here are four ideas for councils to consider:

Use the web

Make sure your website has all the basic information that people are likely to access and provide web self-service systems to allow people to ask basic questions and find the answers they are looking for, without calling the customer service centre.

Get closer to your citizens

Put your agents where they are easily accessible – such as in public buildings like libraries and have regular drop-in sessions for face to face contact. For many people this is the simplest way of getting answers to their questions, so make sure you cater for it.

Be joined up

Given the scope of services councils offer, people can end up being passed between different departments. While this may sometimes be inevitable, don’t make them repeat themselves multiple times – have the systems in place so that their case history moves with them.

Use social media

Now more than ever councils need to engage with their local population. Social media delivers a cost-effective way of reaching your audience, particularly the young, so make sure it is part of your customer service strategy.  Unfortunately budget cuts are inevitable and departments such as customer service are likely to be hit – however by focusing on different ways to deliver service, councils can still engage with citizens and provide the answers to their questions.

Tags: citizen, Consulting, council, Customer Service, Public sector, Rochdale, Social media
Categories: Contact Center, Customer Service, Multichannel Customer Service, Self-service

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