I have been waiting for some time to make this visit as much work has been going on over the last few months, in the background, to move our Highways to the very front of customer focused service, apologies if this sound full of jargon.
However I am forever conscious that the Council Tax you pay does deliver good outcomes and good service – put simply that means the resident should be to the forefront in all we do.
As I have said there has been considerable work in the background analysing how we handle complaints, queries and delivered highways repairs and we realised that what we were doing was far from a streamlined service. Residents being passed from one person to another and often not getting a timely update or response – and more importantly we knew residents weren’t too happy either! So we had to improve the way we worked. And of course that has represented a bit of a cultural change, but one that was very necessary.
So our Customer Service Hub, which opened on the 1st October, is made up of a range of people from various disciplines, Contact Centre Staff, Balfour Beatty, Intelligent Transport Team, and officers from our Highways depots all into one team to respond quickly and efficiently to all your calls.
Working together staff can identify trends and issues in an area, sharing knowledge which provides anyone calling in with more information. What is known as ‘once and done’, (enquiries dealt with on the first contact by the customer and to the customer's satisfaction) so our aim is you will not be waiting for us to get back to you or worst still having to chase us.
Although still in early phase we are certainly seeing an improvement in the once and done statistics – but we know we have to do more.
Our Customer Services Hub’s operating hours start at 8am until 6pm supported by split shift working. This now provides 10 extra man hours support to the you the resident/customer each week.
As we live in an age of Social Media our Twitter (@WSHighways) is there also as service to the resident as a two way communication.
It was a really informative and useful visit and it was a real delight to see the considerable background work and thought that has gone into developing the Customer Service Hub model now a working reality.
The dedicated team members were busy handling calls, talking to residents during my visit and I was impressed.
We are still in the settling in phase and as we know the Winter weather can cause serious disruption to our Highways so we are coming into a very testing time, but this new approach has been designed to provide a good customer service and we are committed to doing so.
Louise Goldsmith.Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.