Customer plans under the spotlight

Plans to drive improvement in the experience customers have of using the Council’s services will be in the spotlight at the Cabinet meeting on 13 November.

The Council commissioned the Local Government Association to conduct a Peer Challenge in July. A team of eight senior figures from other councils as well as private and voluntary sectors spent three days in the city looking at how services were delivered. They met over 220 people, visited key sites and even went out on a local bus to listen to local people’s views

Councillor Sally Haydon, Cabinet Member for Customer Focus and Community Safety for Plymouth, said: “Our corporate plan, adopted in June emphasised the need to get services right and for us to be a city where everyone plays their part. We are determined to improve and part of this is being open to challenge. We shared with the LGA team the work we had done to date but asked them to come down, meet who they want and then tell us their views.

“The feedback we had from the LGA team was that they were really impressed with the passion and commitment of staff and councillors to provide a really good experience for everyone who uses our services. They identified some really outstanding examples of where we work with our customers but felt we needed to do more to make it consistent across all our services.”

The LGA report identified nine key recommendations:

  • Review and harness the potential of the Council’s staff and appoint the new Strategic Director to provide focus
  • Ensure that everyone has the same understanding of what really good customer experience looks like
  • Use the data already available to create customer profiles and then use these to help re-design services around the customer
  • Make sure the Council’s communications help support the focus on customers
  • Review how some services are organised to be able to provide a better “one stop shop” for people
  • Implement a Council and City-wide digital strategy to help make it easy for people to use online services
  • Develop a corporate consultation and engagement strategy
  • Review the city and council branding so that customers are clear about who provides what services
  • Be clear about what the council will provide and how customers, businesses and residents do their bit.

The Council hasn’t been resting on its laurels since the team visited. The Council’s new Strategic Director of Customer and Corporate Services, Andy Ralphs, has been appointed and joins the Council on 19 November. A residents’ survey is being undertaken in November and December to get a clearer understanding on how people feel about the services the Council provides, the information they have about council services and their use of digital services. In addition, a new Customer Experience Board has also been set up to bring together all the key leaders within the Council who will deliver improvement and the LGA recommendations.