Agenda Item No. 7

 

 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 10th October 2018

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Customer Service Strategy (Housing) - Six Monthly Monitoring Report

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To update the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee on progress implementing the Customer Service Strategy (Housing).

Recommendation

  1. That Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee note the six monthly monitoring report in relation to the Customer Service Strategy (Housing).

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. To ensure that high standards of customer service are provided consistently to Council tenants and customers who contact the housing team and the actions identified in the Strategy are progressed.

Background

  1. The Customer Service Strategy was approved by Cabinet in February 2017 (Cabinet Minutes C3528 refers) and incorporated feedback from the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee. One of the recommendations was to provide six monthly monitoring reports to the Homes and Safe Communities Committee. This report updates Members on the progress to date against the actions identified.

Relevant Issues and Options

Resident Consultation and Priorities

  1. The original Strategy was informed by the results of the large scale tenant satisfaction survey, performance data from the Council's contact centre (C1V), a review of best practise and input from the tenants working group. The priorities identified are designed to drive improvements in several key areas of customer service.
  2. Five key priorities are identified in the Strategy, namely: embedding a customer first culture within the housing team; expanding the range of personalised services available to tenants; developing the ways customers can access housing services; improving the quality of customer services provided to tenants and increasing the range of customer feedback in order to drive service improvements.

Monitoring and Evaluation

  1. There has been significant progress with implementation and the majority of the actions are either complete or are on target to be completed by the target date. There are however a small number of actions which are either not due yet or are falling behind. The standard red, amber and green classification has been used to highlight the progress against each one. Green represents all actions which are either complete or on target, amber is used for actions that are at risk of missing the target and red is for actions that have already missed or which are very likely to miss the target.
  2. The following are some examples of some pieces of work being progressed as part of the Strategy:
  3. The Tenant Portal is due to 'go live' from the 26th October 2018, this will give tenants access to several services via the Council's web site, including the ability to make payments, check a rent account balance, update household details and report issues. This is the first phase of services to go digital and it is planned to expand these in future so that tenants are able to 'bid' for homes and report repairs online. Increasing the number of tenants using online services will help deliver efficiencies, improve customer service and ease pressure on the C1V contact centre.
  4. Progress has been made developing estate action plans. These are designed to identify key issues which are relevant to each area, for example: environmental concerns, isolation/ loneliness, crime/ anti-social behaviour, employment, access to services etc. The responses agreed with the residents will be tailored to local needs (which will be different in each area) and drive improvements in both customer service and residents' quality of life.
  5. Work has been undertaken to improve the customer contact experience. This includes developing a 'knowledge base' used by call handlers in the Council's Contact Centre so they are able to use more detailed information to resolve more Housing calls at the first point of contact. In addition, agents are able to access the Housing's back office IT systems in order to confirm rent balances, payment details etc. resulting in fewer calls needing to be transferred and less service requests for call backs being raised.
  6. Changes have been made to the web site to ensure that up to date contact details are available as well as topical information about fire safety, the abolition of Right to Buy etc. Tenants are also able to access the customer portal (and their own personal data) via the web site. In future the web site will be developed further to include additional information and make it easier for tenants to access information and services.
  7. Progress has also been made embedding a 'customer first' culture within the staff team. Team members themselves have developed a team aim and a suite of 'values' they will demonstrate when dealing with customers. A significant number of team members have also taken part in the 'aspiring leaders' programme which has equipped them with a range of tools and techniques which help make them more effective and better able to assist customers.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Strategy is being delivered using existing departmental resources. Financial investments are being made from training or ICT budgets.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The service improvements identified will result in efficiency savings to the Council, specifically in relation to fewer repeat telephone calls and increased first time resolution. In addition, high standards of customer care will ensure tenants continue to select the Council as their landlord of choice. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no direct legal implications arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The Strategy and work undertaken to date are designed to ensure that all tenants have access to services. It is recognised that some vulnerable tenants may require some proactive work to ensure that they receive assistance in times of crisis, so the 'vulnerable tenant' scheme aims to combine information held and identify triggers for targeted visits and the need to contact people who may need assistance, even though they may not approach us for help.
  2. The work being taken to the Customer Portal will also ensure that services are available in Welsh and English.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This Strategy is consistent with the overarching vision within the new Corporate Plan, namely 'Strong Communities with a Bright Future' as well as several of the Well Being Outcomes, including 'An inclusive and Safe Vale', ' An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale', 'An Active and Healthy Vale'.
  2. It is also consistent with many of the core objectives (which support the Well Being outcomes), including: reducing poverty and social exclusion; decent homes and safe communities; promoting regeneration; sustainable development and protecting the environment; and active and healthy lifestyles.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is a within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This report will affect all council tenants and therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Nick Jones - Housing & Strategic Projects Team Leader.

Officers Consulted

Committee Reports

Operational Manager Finance

Operation Manager Housing

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing