Agenda Item No. 6


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 8 April 2014


Report of the Managing Director


Connecting With Our Customers 2014-17


Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Scrutiny Committee of the revised customer service strategy (Connecting With Our Customers) and implementation plan for 2014 to 2017


1.         That Scrutiny Committee note the progress that has been made in delivering the Customer Relations Strategy 2010-13

2.         That Scrutiny Committee note the approach of the digital customer service strategy to meet customer expectations, enhance customer experience and deliver operational savings.

3.         That Scrutiny Committee note the creation of a single strategy encompassing customer service and contact channel strategies.

Reason for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that customers find it easy and convenient to access services; that the customer experience of interacting with the council is positive and that the cost of delivering services is minimised.


4.         On 10 March 2014 Cabinet endorsed the 'Connecting With Our Customers' strategy and associated action plan to further develop customer services objectives set out in the Customer Relations Strategy and Channel Strategy 2010 - 2013.

5.         In October 2010 we set out a customer service vision for the Vale of Glamorgan Council in two documents; Customer Relations Strategy and Channel Strategy.

6.         These strategies addressed the challenges of rapidly changing communications technology, customer expectations and budgets. Our vision was as follows:

7.         "To be recognised and valued by our residents, partners and staff as an organisation focused on delivering services that meet the needs and preferences of all our customers in an efficient, cost effective way".

8.         The strategies recognised that providing high quality services and cost reduction are not contradictory objectives, but are intrinsically linked.

9.         Achieving our vision was set out around 4 key themes, Learn from our customers, Improve access to services, Change how we do things and Develop a customer service culture.

10.      The implementation plan associated with the strategy has been delivered and there is now a need to establish a revised strategy and implementation plan to reflect our changing circumstances and expectations of our customers.

11.      The proposed strategy has been created following:

·         Review of progress against existing actions plans

·         Desktop research into current trends in communications technology and customer behaviour

·         Strategic assessment of Vale of Glamorgan Council corporate objectives and plans, Welsh Government objectives, UK Government objectives and changes in the local operating environment

·         Internal stakeholder consultation

·         Analysis of strategies and plans emerging from local authorities in Wales and elsewhere in the UK.

12.      The strategy, Connecting With Our Customers 2014-17, has been endorsed by CMT

Relevant Issues and Options

13.      Delivering local services has become no less complex and is now even more challenging in the 3 years since the existing strategy was agreed.

14.      Budget and resource pressures on service delivery are increasing and customer preferences and expectations continue to change, driven in part by rapidly developing communications technologies.

15.      Expansion in the range of communications devices and the availability of 3G, 4G and Wi Fi access means that mobile access to the internet is increasingly becoming the norm. Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, is emerging as an important customer contact channel.

16.      Many customers now expect to seamlessly change the channel they use to communicate with organisations, even during a single transaction, without loss of service quality. This trend has been facilitated by the rapid rise in the ownership of multi-functional smart phones and tablet devices that allow the user to access services by phone, internet, email, mobile application, social media or SMS text depending on convenience and preference.

17.      Customer expectations are rising at a time of unprecedented pressure on resources. The emergence of a clear customer trend towards accessing services digitally, coupled with the on-going need to deliver services more efficiently, mean that the adoption of a digital approach to the access and delivery of services is essential.

18.      A digital approach will help to maintain quality services and deliver cash savings. This approach is particularly appropriate for the Vale of Glamorgan, with 89% of adults regularly using the internet compared to an average of 82.5% for Wales and 86% for the UK (ONS, May 2013)

19.      A digital approach will require us to:

·         Maximise the number of services that can be accessed via our website, focussing on those services which generate high enquiry volumes across other access channels

·         Deliver mobile access to digital services

·         Address issues of digital exclusion to ensure fair and equal access to services for all

·         Ensure that processes and procedures are designed so that services work on digital platforms

·         Develop ways to integrate digital services with legacy ICT systems to ensure that service delivery is seamless and efficient.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.      The plan will be delivered within existing staff resources.

21.      Where capital investment is required this will be bid for on the basis of a robust business case.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

22.      The strategy is designed to be sustainable by recognising the need to track and reflect trends in customer behaviour and expectations wherever possible.

23.      There are no negative Climate Change Implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.      There are no legal implications.

Crime and Disorder Implications

25.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

26.      The strategy is intended to improve access to services for all individuals and communities.

27.      The strategy is supported by a plan to address digital exclusion.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      The diverse needs of local people are met through the provision of customer focused, accessible services and information (Community Strategy 2011-21)

·         Consistent and positive customer experience for all customers, including vulnerable and disabled

·         Service improvements are informed by customers' needs and views

·         Customers are able to access relevant and timely information, including by electronic self service, enabling then to make informed choices

·         Reduced cost of dealing with customer enquiries.

29.      Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan can easily access efficiently managed services that are focused around their needs, have confidence in how decision are made and are proud to live in the Vale. (Corporate Plan 2013-17 Outcome).

Policy Framework and Budget

30.      The Connecting with our Customers strategy is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.      There are no implications for Ward Members as a result of this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Connecting with our Customers 2014-17


Contact Officer

Tony Curliss, Operational Manager - Customer Services


Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Head of Performance and Development

Head of Human Resources

All Heads of Service

All Operational Managers


Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director