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.
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 this link
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 areas will be well sign posted, clean, tidy and comfortable
Private interview facilities are available on request. 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
People when you need to speak to us, technology when you don’t
Councils across the country are facing unprecedented financial constraints; having to make difficult choices with limited resources. The challenge is to reduce costs whilst at the same time improving services to match ever more demanding customer expectations.
To meet this challenge Allerdale 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, Allerdale is pursuing digital by choice 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 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, with some things 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 increasing customer expectations of being able to access services online 24/7 present 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, services will be available to customers through our customer service centres
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.
Mange 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