Time for councils to invest in customer service
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.