Agenda item

Q2 Performance Report 21/22

To provide an update on how the Council is performing for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021 (report of the Assistant Director - Corporate and Portfolio Holder Corporate and Communications enclosed).

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Director – Corporate and Portfolio Holder Corporate and Communications, which provided an update up how the Council was performing for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021.

 

The officer stated that: no major changes had been seen from Q1 to Q2; complaint response times had improved; staff hours dealing with fly-tipping had reduced; call response performance had reduced.

 

The Head of Customer Contact PSPS delivered a presentation to the Panel which outlined the challenges that had been experienced, mitigations that had been put in place, and the future plans for the Contact Centre. This included:

  • Causes of performance pressures:
  • the Covid-19 response;
  • customer contact behaviour had changed: call times, email levels and administration had increased due to front facing office closures and an unprecedented demand had persisted;
  • increased calls compared to pre-pandemic levels had been seen for Housing by 109%; Housing repairs by 26%; and Waste and Recycling by 35%; 
  • ongoing Covid support which related to Grants, and Test and Trace;
  • increased staff turnover;
  • office closures, staff absences and Covid isolations.

 

  • Mitigations in place included:
    • recruitment activity and training programmes had taken place;
    • remedial processes had been implemented;
    • a triage call-back system had commenced;
    • transformation processes had been underway;
    • office based delivery had returned which had focussed on resolving customer queries upon the first point of contact.

 

  • Future plans included:
    • the telephony and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to be replaced which would  improve communications according to customer demand and contact behaviour changes;
    • a service alignment focus was needed to provide greater resilience and consistency of customer service; 
    • digital opportunities to be explored;
    • the availability of the service for those who could not engage digitally needed to be maintained. Front facing customer service had been an expensive channel however a consistent service needed to be provided for all residents: digitally and in person/telephone.

 

The Head of Customer Contact (PSPS) concluded that high performance and service delivery levels had been achieved over the previous five years and the current pressures had not been consistent with their usual high standards. Statutory services had been maintained from the start of the pandemic which some other authorities had not achieved. Customer Satisfaction and Quality had maintained well above 90% target. Although the forecast for Q3 and Q4 had shown a risk, which had been based on performance at the end of Q2, aggressive measures had been put in place to overcome the pressures that had been experienced.

 

The Panel considered the update and made the following comments:

  • Members asked whether call handing times comparisons had been made between those answered at SHDC contact centre and those answered at the Manby contact centre.
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS confirmed that call duration times had been monitored and had been comparable.

 

  • Members noted that call handling times of 120 seconds had not been met and asked whether this had been realistic. If calls had become more complex, should the target be revised?
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS stated that the target had been to answer 80% of calls within 120 seconds. The customer service ethos had been to focus on the fulfilment of the current customer/call which had therefore impacted call answering times. Where multiple requests had been presented on the same call, call duration had been elongated however customer need had been satisfied. Analysis would be carried out to establish the nature of customer calls which would inform future strategies in the recovery and post-pandemic period.

 

  • Members questioned the increases in some of the call types, such as housing and housing repairs which had increased by 26%. Had the new Northgate system increased call handling times and supported the contact centre?
    • The new Northgate system had been positively received by staff. An increased number of enquiries had been received for emergency repairs, perceived emergency repairs as well as planned maintenance. The Northgate system had been embedded and PSPS would be working with the Housing team to understand their service standards in order to manage customer expectations. Longer call duration times had reflected thorough handling.

 

  • The Chairman stated that intelligence was needed to understand why calls and handling times had increased but also acknowledged this would be a complex process.

 

  • Members commented on the increase of fly-tipping calls and queried whether direct digital reporting to Waste Services had been implemented to reduce the impact on the Contact Centre
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS confirmed that the 35% increase in Waste and Recycling contact covered a collection of areas of which fly-tipping had been a small element. The arrangement regarding calls would be investigated and feedback circulated to the Panel.
    • The Head of Environmental and Operational Services confirmed that digital options for the reporting of fly tipping were being investigated.

 

  • Members asked whether the number of customer enquiries resolved at the first call attempt had been known, and how many had led to follow-up calls. Statistics were needed.
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS responded that this information had not been available on the current system however the new CRM system would capture and report on this data. 

 

  • Members asked whether emails had been used as a contact method to avoid second calls.

 

  • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS responded that customers had the option of registering a ‘My Account’ on the system which enabled progress updates to be received. The replacement of the CRM system would necessitate the wider capture of information at the first point of digital contact to reduce the need for a second contact. The Contact Centre also needed to respond to South Holland residents who were not digitally enabled or confident.

 

  • Members questioned when improvements had been expected from remedial activities which had already been put in place.
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS reported that incremental improvements had been seen in the last ten days. Most calls had been answered within 240 seconds. Further investment had been needed in training to achieve objectives.

 

  • Members asked whether staff attrition had a common cause.
    • The Head of Customer Contact PSPS responded that staff attrition had not been caused by a single factor and that people had left employment for a multiple of reasons. Recruitment efforts had been in place.

 

  • Members asked for the breakdown of complaints noted on the report which were to be circulated.
    • Officers confirmed these would be circulated shortly.

 

  • Members requested a star rating of risk be added to the report which reflected the hierarchy of financial risk of each item.

 

  • Members noted that the report stated the council remained on target to receive 100% subsidy and asked whether officers had been confident of this outcome.
    • The officer confirmed this was the case and that performance had been good. The reporting indicators had been reviewed to include an increased context of risk in the future.

 

AGREED:

 

a)    That the Q2 Performance Report 21/22 be noted; and

 

b)      That a Contact Centre update be presented in 6 months.

Supporting documents: