To consider a Strategy defining how the Council will redesign its customer service focus to ensure that digital channels are straightforward and consistent.
The Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio Holder reported that demand for public services and expectations of levels of service were ever increasing. Citizens and businesses expected the same levels of access, ease of use and customer service that they saw online from large private sector organisations. They expected to be able to access their services from multiple locations and in ways that suited them. In recognition of this, the Customer Strategy represented the transition from a traditional service based strategy to a combined digital Customer Strategy.
The Customer Strategy underpinned how the Council could achieve key Council Plan objectives.
Primarily, the Strategy ensured that the Council had the right communications channels available for customers to quickly and easily:-
• find the information they needed; and
• complete the tasks they needed to do.
It also provided for better use of customer feedback to drive further improvements.
The Strategy set out the following outcomes:-
• customer and community needs drive how we design and deliver our services;
• customers can get the information and services they need easily;
• our digital services are so good that they are customers’ first choice;
• we are clear about what customers can expect from us and everyone receives the same high standard of service;
• our services are great value for money;
• we will enable customers to have better access to our services at times which are more convenient, so putting them more in control; and
• we will be a more efficient council by having digitally enabled services available online which makes it easier for customers to do business with us.
The response to COVID-19 had shown that customers were able to use digital channels. Examples included:-
• the high take-up, usage and positive feedback about the online business grant form;
• higher website usage; and
• growth in customers accessing the site through social media channels.
Consultation had demonstrated that more and more people preferred to access services on their mobile phone or computer. The Council wanted to improve its digital services so that it could focus its limited resources on customers who were unable to access services online.
Reference was made to the fact the Strategy indicated that 82% of people in South Lakeland used home broadband to access the internet and to the need for it to be made clear to those people that they were able to contact South Lakeland District Council direct on District Council matters without first approaching their local parish or town councils.
A vote was taken on the proposals during which, with the exception of the Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder who abstained, Cabinet Members confirmed that they had, without interruption, heard the full presentation and discussion on the item.
RESOLVED - That the Customer Strategy 2020 be approved.
Reasons for Decision
To assist in the delivery of the Council Plan - Open and transparent: Being courteous, efficient and transparent in our dealings with the public and seeking continuous improvement in what we do, ensuring that our actions address the needs of South Lakeland.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
The Council’s Customer Strategy is a critical element of its transformation and supports the delivery of the Council’s Commissioning Strategy and the Council Plan priorities and outcomes.