S Choudhury presented the update, noting the KPIs for customer service call waiting times, which was red during Q4 due to a surge in demand after annual rent letters were sent out and council tax bills as well as the garden waste subscription service going live. The customer strategy programme was recently introduced and will have an impact on waiting times as well as the customer experience overall, and S Choudhury advised that they are also taking immediate actions, such as improving the voice recognition service to improve call flows, updating key webpages and launching a new customer charter. The other area of reporting is complaints and the complaints service was red during Q4, predominantly due to the launch of the new complaints policy and the application of new timescales to respond to complaints.
Looking at challenges, S Choudhury advised that retention in customer services has been difficult as individuals become skilled in certain areas of the organisation and will typically progress into roles within these departments as they become available. Bringing in new members of staff means additional time is spent training and this is being mitigated against by bringing in a dedicated training officer so staff can take calls more quickly. S Choudhury noted that the call waiting time is dated and that this will be reviewed to make it more appropriate as well as looking at issue resolution rates.
Cllr Hannell commented on item 4.1 of the report and suggested that the department isn't particularly agile in responding to a predictable surge in demand as a result of the garden waste subscription service coming out at the same time as the annual housing rent. Cllr Hannell noted that the average call waiting time was 12 minutes and 35 seconds during this period and asked if there is an intention to respond to predicted surges in demand in future. S Choudhury confirmed that they did predict the demand and that an additional customer services role was created to deal with the additional calls that would come in as a result. The customer strategy looks to reduce call waiting times over the year and communication has been sent out to encourage people to self-serve where possible or looking at providing call-backs when there are lower demands.
Cllr Cox queried how the customer service calls and waiting times are currently monitored. S Choudhury explained that they use a dashboard with two supervisors who monitor these to identify high levels across each department. If there are areas with higher waiting times then staff will be brought over to take basic details and see if they can help resolve the issue or provide a call-back service with someone more skilled in the area. Cllr Cox asked if waiting times depend on the number of staff for each team. S Choudhury confirmed this, noting that customer service staff will be skilled in particular areas and, as they become multi-skilled, they can take more calls.
Y Salvin presented the update on digital and ICT, noting the KPIs on IT system availability, which is currently stable across the network, and the number of incidents resolved within 2 days is currently below the target at 90%. Y Salvin advised that this is due to vacancies in the team and that the team is looking at how it delivers its service. The team is therefore looking at improving technology that allows them to service the workforce better and identifying areas where processes can be automated to help create capacity within the team. Y Salvin commented on the new digital forum, noting that this has now been approved by SLT and that 14 initiatives have come through it, of which 8 will be paused as the digital platform will deliver these.
Cllr Gale noted that he had received an email from ICT stating that he reports to Cllr Williams and that Jennie Webb is still listed as assistant to the opposition. Y Salvin confirmed that these issues would be addressed and thanked the councillor for raising them.
Cllr Cox asked how residents without internet access can reach online services. Y Salvin confirmed that DBC will not go digital-only and is focused on an Omni-channel approach. The team is looking to simplify the process, though there are no intentions to cut off access to channels. It is hoped that customers will increasingly use the new online portal.
K Soley presented the update on communications, noting that in Q4 there were a number of recognition and celebration days and that the team will circulate an updated calendar of corporate and civic events to all members. On internal communications, there is a full communications programme, including the quarterly staff update session, which saw over 300 colleagues attend in person and online, and the internal campaigns, such as staff recognition schemes and other information for staff. Regarding the print and digital publications, there are 12 different publications, particularly Dacorum Life, which now has over 12.8k subscribers. Social media channels continue to grow with Q4 seeing a significant growth in LinkedIn connections.
Cllr Santamaria asked how the Dacorum Life digital edition is promoted. K Soley noted that this is communicated through any touchpoint with DBC and is recommended as the best route to get the latest information. The open rates are well above industry standards and it is now a primary channel.
Cllr Weston thanked the team for all the reports.