City Council Customers Come First

Winchester City Council celebrating their accreditation success at Winchester Guildhall

It’s official - customers come first at Winchester City Council. The Council has committed to a three year programme of assessments under the national Customer Service Excellence Standard, and has had a 100% success rate in its first year.

The Customer Service Excellence Standard has replaced the former ‘Charter Mark’, and is the recognized gold standard for customer care approved by the Cabinet Office.  Winchester City Council has committed to meeting the Standard in every one of its 17 divisions, and the first three of these divisions have already passed with flying colours.

The Standard explores five key areas which are critical in delivering excellent customer service, ranging from how well the Council knows its customers to the ways it delivers its services.

A total of 57 elements of customer service are examined by an independent assessor, through a combination of written submissions, desk based research, site visits, customer interviews and stakeholder focus groups.

The Council’s Customer Service Division, Landlord Services Division and Economic & Cultural Services Division have all undergone this rigorous process of assessment in recent weeks.  Also included in the assessment process were key partners DC Leisure who manage River Park Leisure Centre, and SERCo who are responsible for the maintenance of the Council’s housing stock.

The assessor was very positive about what he saw, commenting on the obvious passion of staff for what they do and the ‘culture of quality’ which existed within the divisions. He also noted that there is a clear and effective commitment to delivering customer focussed services both at a corporate level and by individual staff members.

The City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Performance and Organisational Development, Cllr Stephen Godfrey, commented: “This is an excellent set of results for the first year of our programme and I congratulate all those staff who have won the Standard so far. As a Council, we’ve talked for some time about offering ‘Customer Service We’re Proud Of’, and now we have clear proof that we are doing just that. Progress on this project has been excellent and to schedule, with the accreditation results reflecting the hard work of the staff involved. I am very impressed with the way staff have committed themselves to this challenging programme.”

The Council’s Head of Customer Service, Paul Wood, added: “We also appreciate that our customers’ expectations are always changing, so we’ve been able to make good use of the assessment process to identify improvements and new ways of working, and to share good practice across the Council.”

The programme will continue into the new financial year. All feedback from the Council’s customers is warmly welcomed to help staff address concerns, and to ensure good suggestions are taken up. Contact Paul Wood on 01962 848 318 or with your comments.