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Customer service standards

When you contact us, by whatever method, we will:

  • be polite, friendly and helpful
  • treat you fairly and respectfully
  • greet you promptly and deal efficiently with your enquiries
  • tell you how we can help you, how long it will take and how we will keep you informed
  • try to get things right first time, and put them right if they go wrong
  • respect your privacy
  • listen to your ideas, and use your feedback to improve our services
  • We will use plain English, avoid the use of jargon, and explain any complex or technical terms.

When you contact us on-line or by email

We will acknowledge that we have received your on-line enquiry or any email messages sent to published departmental addresses, and we will aim to reply fully within two working days.

If we are experiencing high workloads, or your enquiry requires more detailed research before it can be fully answered, we will give an indication of when you can expect to hear from us and will include a contact telephone number to use if your enquiry is urgent.

Emails sent to individual officers will be replied to within two working days, or if the officer is unavailable an out of office message will advise when they will be available and provide an alternative contact to use if your enquiry is urgent.

Social media

When you contact us through social media like Twitter or Facebook, our responses to post, comments and direct messages will depend on the individual service. Even if we do not reply, we are listening and will act on or pass on your comments as appropriate.

In most cases, it will be better to contact us directly through a myAllerdale account, which you can quickly and easily set-up from the myAllerdale page.

Written Correspondence

Many of the Council staff now work remotely. This means that written correspondence delivered to Allerdale House is opened by our on-site document management team, scanned it into our electronic system and distributed to the person or department most appropriate to answer your enquiry, we aim to respond to you within two working days of receiving your letter.

Letters marked private and confidential will not be opened at Allerdale House but instead will be posted to the intended recipient and we will aim to respond to you within 10 working days of receiving your letter.

When you telephone us

Calls to published numbers

We aim to answer calls to our published numbers within 45 seconds. At busy times your call may be placed in a queue. If the waiting time exceeds 45 seconds we will offer a free call-back so that you don’t have to wait in the queue.

We will give a name if asked, and if we need to transfer the call we will tell you who we are transferring you to and check that they are available before putting the call through.

Calls to individuals

We aim to answer calls to individual officer extensions within 20 seconds.

If the line is engaged, or the officer not available, you will be able to leave a voicemail message. We will check our messages daily and messages will be updated regularly advising you when we will be available. We will respond to your voicemail messages before close of business on the next working day, or if we are out of the office, within 24 hours of our return.

Reception facilities

Reception areas will be well sign posted, clean, tidy, safe and comfortable.

Visits to Cumberland Council reception areas are by appointment only and appointments can be made by calling 0300 373 3730, Customers will discuss their enquiry with one of our advisors who will arrange a convenient time and day for the meeting, they will also advise the customer on what to expect and what, if any documentation needs to be bought to the appointment.  

Reception staff will have specialist training; they will be welcoming and approachable and will deal with our visitors' enquiries as soon as possible.

Visits to customer's home or property

We will make an appointment and let you know if we are delayed. We will clearly explain our reasons for visiting and on arrival we will show an identification card. Wherever possible, we will let you know what follow-up action you can expect.

What we ask of you

To help us deliver the best service we can, we ask that all customers:

  • Are courteous and respectful towards us
  • Provide any information we need as soon as possible
  • Let us know if you need a service to be provided in a different way to meet your individual needs.

Help us to improve our service

We welcome your comments on the service we provide. We will use them to help us to improve our service.

If you would like to make a suggestion of improvement, you can complete our online form

If you think something has gone wrong, we need to know so that we can put it right. There is a formal Complaints procedure that is easy to use.

Our Customer Access Strategy

The strategy aims to deliver the things that are important to our customers:-

  • Safe, secure, accessible and easy to use services
  • Services that do what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it
  • Reduced costs and value for money services
  • Quality service

Councils across the country are facing unprecedented financial constraints; having to make difficult choices with limited resources. The cost of living crisis has increased the challenge faced by local authorities as they move to match ever more demanding customer expectations, the move to digital, reducing costs and above all delivery of quality services. 

To meet this challenge Cumberland Council is committed to delivering an ambitious service transformation programme 

Government has adopted a digital by default approach to service and has delivered successful transformation improving customer service and reducing costs, the DVLA being a real example of this success, Cumberland is pursuing a policy of digital first through this customer access strategy. 

The strategy builds on our drive for continued improvement in customer service through better access to Council information and services. It defines how, in transforming service delivery, we will provide excellent services for our customers and deliver value for money to the taxpayer. 

The customer access strategy will be underpinned by the Allerdale Information Management strategy outlining the types of information collated by the council, what it is used for and how it is managed securely. 

The key message of the strategy is:

People when you need to talk to us, technology when you don’t 

he strategy aims to deliver the things that are important to our customers: - 

  • Accessible and easy to use services 
  • Services that do what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it 
  • Reduced costs and value for money services 
  • Quality service 

With the wide range of services provided by the Council, customers will not necessarily always want to use the same access channels to contact us. The channel used will often vary depending on the type of enquiry, some things can be reported on-line without the need to speak to us, and others will be more complex and need a conversation. 

One of the aims of the strategy is to provide customers with choice when they contact the Council, and that choice is simply to be able to match the increasing expectations our customers have of being able to access services online 24/7. This presents a great opportunity to deliver services effectively, however we must ensure that we continue to meet the needs of those people who do not yet have access to the internet, or prefer to have a conversation with us. 

Recognising that not all customers will be able to self-serve, there will be opportunities for assisted access to self-service channels and where these options are not possible, or not appropriate, telephone conversations and face to face appointments will be available to our customers at locations across the district. 

In developing the ways in which customers access our services we will use customer insight to inform our understanding of customer needs and contact preferences, and we will recognise that these preferences may change dependant on the type of enquiry, interaction or transaction. 

No matter how customers choose to interact with us the service provided will be consistent and in line with our published corporate customer service standards. 

Our staff will be available, and equipped with the skills and knowledge they need, to be able to deliver an effective customer focused service where we get things right first time. 

To deliver the strategy there are a set of guiding principles around the way we provide access to the services and information from the Council. 

To make sure the customer remains at the heart of our business.

Ensure a consistent and positive customer experience, getting it right first time, irrespective of the choice of contact channel.

Develop customer insight to understand what our customers want including monitoring customer usage, preferences, satisfaction levels and the cost to serve, then using that information to improve service delivery and concentrate resources to the greatest need.

Reduce the need for customers to contact us by eliminating unnecessary contact, and when customers do need to speak to us, actively encourage use of the most appropriate channel whilst continuing to maintain choice for all services.

Manage demand – design our processes and customer journeys to manage the need, and therefore the demand, for our services to support the second principle.

Partnership working – we will look to avoid duplication of effort by working with partners to deliver services more effectively across the district.

Council Strategy design

Cumberland Council

On 1 April 2023 local government in Cumbria changed, with Cumberland Council providing all your council services.  

Don't worry though, your bins will be emptied as normal, and you'll still be able to speak to the same team about any enquiries to do with things like council tax, benefits, planning or any other service.

Find out more about the changes.

Keep up to date by finding and following the new council on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. 

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