14 May 2012

Are you thinking "customer"?

Was Johnathan on overtime or has he learnt how to set a date and time on an email to make it look like you are grafting away at 07:26 when in fact you are snoring your head off?

I will aim, but I might miss by a mile?

Are you Thinking Customer? Mr Mustard thinks that the screensaver and this intranet communication would have benefited from some punctuation.
Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:26 Schroder, Johnathan

Think Customer is the council's latest internal campaign aimed at making sure that staff across the organisation are getting it right first time, every time when dealing with customers.
Every Assistant Director in the council has made a commitment (rather bland most of them and not very definite, just a load of old tosh really as no-one is going to check up on them, well apart from bloggers) to customer service, which are being shared with staff every day on PC desktop screens (do staff really want such a screensaver or would they like to look at a calming waterfall or goldfish swimming around?), while large posters and banners have been used across NLBP and Barnet House reminding staff of the council's key customer service principles (when are management going to actually talk to staff rather than lecture them in 8ft high posters and on the back of the toilet doors; what next toilet paper printed on every sheet with "One Barnet; One Sheet project?")  which are based on what really matters to our customers; resolution, accountability and keeping the promises we make. (and this must be why management have foolishly decided to take calls about council tax out of the expert department and put them into a call centre where no-one ever knows anything about anything and doesn't have any power)
The campaign kicked off in April ahead of the launch of Barnet's renewed customer care standards in June. Mr Mustard hopes that the bar will be set higher than the low standard for answering the telephone set by Richard Cornelius when Mr Mustard asked a rare question at a committee. Mr Mustard doesn't usually bother as the answer received is not usually the answer to the question that one has asked. Next up is customer service mystery shopping, a scheme which will test out the customer service skills of staff in all areas. Does Mr Mustard guess correctly that external consultants will be employed to do the mystery shopping when real shoppers could be asked for free?
Meanwhile, the council's Customer Service Transformation (CST) programme continues apace. The last edition of First Team detailed the aims of the CST programme, and it is already reaping rewards.
Despite high volumes of calls for school admissions coming in at the beginning of March, (for which any sensible council will have planned)  nearly every call was answered and almost 90% were picked up within 20 seconds (so over 10% of calls were answered late). This was as a result of the transfer of calls into the customer contact centre rather than being dealt with by the school admissions team (there are a large number of unhappy parents). Meanwhile the process of applying for a blue badge has reduced from eight weeks to just two. Is Barnet doing anything about blue badge fraud. Enfield Council seem to regularly prosecute blue badge cheats but then i suppose as we have our own councillors abusing their system that might be a bit much to ask for.
The CST programme is continuing to put in place new ways of working that make life easier for the customer, well ahead of the transfer of all customer service activity to either BT or Capita in early 2013.
Monika Singh, Head of Customer Services Transformation, said: "Over the coming months, I want everyone in the council to spend some time 'Thinking Customer'. The new-look council is putting the customer at the centre of everything we do, and it is absolutely vital that this is engrained in the culture of every service now. We should know what it feels like to be a customer of the services we deliver, we should think about the impact of any new processes or policy changes we implement on all our customer groups, and we should ask our customers what they think of us at every opportunity. Many senior officers live miles from the borough so don't have the foggiest idea what it is like to be a "customer".

"We are already seeing great results through the CST programme and now we want every single person to engage with this programme and make a difference for the people we work for, by Thinking Customer all the time."
Keep watching barnetwork for more on the Think Customer campaign and the relaunch of our customer care standards next month. Mr Mustard will keep watching.

What does Mr Mustard think when he sees the above screensaver.

He thinks:
Will Lesley Meeks last longer than Mick Stokes who did the job before her for a few months?
Is she a Town Hall Tax Dodger? (as it takes up to 9 months for Mr Mustard to get a reply under Freedom of Information legislation the answer might be a while in arriving)
Wasn't there anyone who lived in Barnet with the necessary skills?
Yours frugally
Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Mr M. Another great post.

    What's with this 'customer' nonsense, anyway?

    We're not customers of Barnet Council; we live in Barnet and the council reflects our democratically expressed priorities and delivers services - doesn't it?

    When is the NHS going to start addressing me as 'customer'? - oh, I see the way the wind is blowing.

    Are we customers of the UK government? It's all very strange.

    Barnet Council is a potential customer of BT, Capita, EC Harris: it depends which of these wins the two big contracts up for grabs - worth £1.5 billion (approx) over 10 years - or sells themselves the hardest. Perhaps that's what they are getting at.

    Of course, in this way of thinking, if we 'customers' don't like what Barnet Council/Capita/BT/EC Harris provide, we can shop elsewhere. Except, we can't - and why would we want to even if we could?


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