To consider the outcomes and benefits of the Customer Connect Programme since inception in 2016 and the work still to be completed over the next 18 months.
Members had been provided with replacement copies of Appendix 1 to the report prior to the meeting as the original version attached to the Agenda was incomplete due to a system error during the production of the document.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder introduced the detailed report to enable Members to recognise the achievements of the Customer Connect Programme since inception in 2016 and to note the outcomes and benefits the Programme had delivered as set out in Appendix 1 to the report. The report further outlined the work still to be completed and how that was going to be delivered over the next 18 months.
Due to the Pandemic, the Programme had been delayed by 12 months, affecting the transition of Phase 2. This was due to staff time required to deal with the initial emergency situation and then the ongoing resilience needed to support communities and businesses. As a result, there was some activity that still needed to be delivered, details of which were provided, as well as on how this would be delivered over the next 18 month period.
How the Programme would be managed going forward was in recognition of the Local Government Review (LGR) outcome. At the Customer Connect Member Steering Group, it had been recognised that there was still an importance to continue the work of the programme and to not lose sight of the final outcomes and benefits to be achieved. Therefore, the recommendation to manage the Customer Connect Programme within a Portfolio Management approach alongside the LGR Programme, other council projects and business as usual work had been agreed.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder believed that all of this work had enabled the transformation of the Authority. The Council would look to develop the Programme further to enable it to play an integral part of the way in which the new unitary authority would work, taking into account South Lakeland District Council’s experience.
In response to queries raised, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder felt that the Programme offered a good platform for moving forward, however, explained that it was for the workstreams and the future shadow authority to determine how it would operate and on what basis to deliver services. A question was raised as to whether there had been any staff satisfaction surveys in relation to Customer Connect and he confirmed that staff satisfaction surveys were carried out, with the latest survey results due out later in the month (this relates to the Health and Wellbeing survey). The Operational Lead for Customer and Locality Services added that the staff surveys were carried out on a quarterly basis. Whilst no formal survey had been carried out with either Members or Customers, there had been a lot of feedback in terms of improvement in relation to My Account and online forms.
Whilst the need to be mindful of customers who were unable or did not wish to deal with the Council via digital means was raised, Members expressed strong support for the original decision for the implementation of the Customer Connect Programme, which, it was hoped, would be adopted by the unitary authority.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder explained that the main drive had been to improve access to service for customers, however, stressed the fact that existing face to face channels remained open. He further mentioned the fact that the Council had developed the digital Programme together with Eden District Council, however, that they had not progressed to the same extent. They had, though, a number of systems in common.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder took the opportunity to express thanks to all staff for their engagement in the process and for the very smooth and efficient roll-out, and asked for this to be formally communicated.
RESOLVED – That the outcomes and benefits of the Programme as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.
Reasons for Decision
The report was for noting only, however, through the Customer Connect Programme the Council has put in place state of the art information technology, new ways of working and modern offices. This is about putting the customer at the centre of everything the Council does. The Council has made it easier to get the services and information customers need from it. The Council is cutting bureaucracy and form filling, both for customers and in its own processes and procedures. The Council is ensuring that customer feedback drives improvements to how it does things.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Not applicable – the report was for noting only.