Customers come first at Winchester City Council

Winchester City Council is celebrating after achieving accreditation for the whole organisation to the government’s Customer Service Excellence standard, showing that customers are at the heart of all they do.

After three years of work focusing on the customer experience, and each department being individually assessed, the organisation is now one of only a handful of Councils in the country that have achieved the accreditation across all aspects of their services.

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. 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.

During the rigorous assessment 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.

In his report the Government’s Assessor Andrew Mackey said,

As this was a building block assessment the process has taken over 3 years to complete and it has been clear throughout the process that the Council has developed a culture of customer service which has been embraced by all departments. There have been significant improvements in processes and departments have responded positively to the feedback that has been given, addressing any development points raised.

This (corporate assessment) last part of the assessment process has produced clear evidence of the practical impact of working with the Customer Service Excellence standard and the ways that it has affected service development and delivery in many areas."

The City Council's Portfolio Holder for Administration, Innovation and Improvement, Cllr Stephen Godfrey, commented:

This is an excellent result following three years of dedication from all our staff, and a clear commitment to the people of the District. As a Council, we've talked for some time about offering 'Customer Service We're Proud Of', and now we have proof that we are doing just that. I am very impressed with the way staff have committed themselves to this challenging programme and that we were able to maintain momentum on the project despite the difficult decisions and challenging budget pressures we have seen over the last few years."

The accreditation certificate is valid for three years with annual reassessments.