The report and appendix are attached.
John Findlay (Service Manager, Business and Customer Support) introduced the report, the purpose of which was to provide an overview of the organisation’s performance in responding to customer complaints, including outcomes and timeliness of complaints processing. The report identified areas of principal concern to customers alongside details of complaints upheld (partially or fully), where an apology or compensation had been provided, and details of cases forwarded to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).
John Findlay advised that information captured using the Authority’s ‘Contact Us’ system provided a means to categorise complaints and identify areas where learning from feedback could be derived. He stated that during 2020/21, the proportion of complaint cases resolved within the agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA) timeframe was 77.77%. This surpassed the 70% target. He reported that the proportion of complaints received through digital channels had increased during 2020/21.
John Findlay stated that an examination of the reasons for complaints showed three areas which constituted 90% of all complaints received. Of this amount, 8% related to WCC service standards; 9.5% related to the physical environment; and 69% related to communication. This provided a clear focus for the Customer Relations Team. He advised that an analysis of findings, with input from ICT and Business Intelligence, had provided a means to utilise customer feedback to seek improvements. The Customer Experience Strategy offered a means to accomplish this, including a project examining schools admissions systems which had shown good results.
In response to Councillor Roberts, John Findlay advised that complaints received outside of digital channels (for example by a letter or telephone call) were transferred to the ‘Contact Us’ system to enable comments to be captured, recorded, and tracked.
Councillor Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place) praised the work undertaken by Business and Customer Support, stating that impressive progress had been made since 2018 when it was resolved to undertake in-depth analysis of customer feedback. She stated that there was a need to listen to residents’ concerns and respond positively.
Councillor Tromans highlighted the improved response rate of complaints managed within required timescales in 2020/21. He acknowledged the considerable effort required to achieve this level of progress.
In response to Councillor Tromans, John Findlay advised that where it was considered that in-depth analysis was required to resolve a complaint, the Customer Relations Team would work closely with the relevant service area. This provided a means for service level risk registers and practices at a local level to be updated. Previously, the Customer Relations Team had taken a less prominent role in this process. The current arrangement provided improved support for service areas.
In response to Councillor Boad, John Findlay advised that the Marketing and Communications Team monitored and responded to complaints received on social media. Should an official complaint be received via social media, it would be referred to the Customer Relations Team.
Rob Powell (Strategic Director for Resources) stated that an opportunity was present to develop links between social media and customer feedback processes. Social media provided valuable insight for the Authority. He stated that, at present, resources were not available to pursue this line of inquiry in detail, but it constituted an area of future interest.
Councillor Butlin (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property) commented that the transition in ways of working brought about by the Pandemic had resulted in some disruption to council services. This coincided with increased demand for public services due to COVID-19. He stated that, in these circumstances, it was reasonable to expect complaint figures to be much higher. The Authority would continue to heed customer feedback to respond to changing circumstances and drive improvement.
That the Committee notes the WCC Corporate Customer Feedback Overview report.