Sheffield City Council has won a national award for its ‘exceptional’ customer service skills thanks to the development of a website adaptable to new technology and improved waiting times at First Point.
Following a successful inspection by national customer service certification firm SGS, the council’s customer service team has retained its Customer Service Excellence accreditation, originally awarded in 2010.
As with previous assessments, the service was considered to be 100 per cent compliant with the high standards set by the national awarding body with some areas championed for being ‘Compliance Plus’ or ‘exceptional.’ The inspector particularly praised the website’s new mobile-friendly look, which makes it easier for online services to be accessed via a tablet or smartphone.
Councillor Ben Curran, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Sheffield City Council, said: “Customer service is at the heart of everything we do so we are really delighted to receive this accreditation. It shows we are continuing to deliver a high quality service to the people of Sheffield – whether that’s in person or via our website and social media.
“The assessor was impressed with how we have responded to new technology by developing our use of Twitter and the self-service approach on our website. More than 40 per cent of people are currently accessing our website via a smartphone or tablet and we hope this will begin to increase further now we have made the design of the website more mobile friendly.
“We are also really proud of the fact the assessor acknowledged our customer service staff have established solid relationships with other service partners across the council to ensure we provide consistency across the board.”
Julie Bullen, Director of Customer Services at Sheffield City Council, added: “I’d like to thank staff across the board, whether they manage front line services, develop operations or maintain our IT systems, who have worked hard to continue to improve our customer service. We are proud of the results we have achieved but we will not be complacent and will continue to develop our IT systems in areas such as the Register Office to make the process of registering a birth, death or marriage more efficient.”
The council’s customer services team provides advice, information, services and links to partner agencies across the city for 1 million customer enquiries a year at the Contact Centre, First Point at Howden House in the city centre, the Housing Repairs Calls Centre, the Housing Call Centre and Register Office at Sheffield Town Hall.
The assessment involved a site visit where interviews with customers, representatives from partner organisations and staff were carried out.
The assessor praised the team for improving waiting times at First Point. The assessor was also impressed with the council’s employee forums which empower staff to contribute to the customer focus culture of the organisation, which in turn supports employee morale and improves job satisfaction.
He also highlighted the effectiveness of the council’s apprenticeship scheme, which over the past year has recruited 20 enthusiastic young people.
During the assessment, no ‘non’ or ‘partial’ compliances with the standards were identified.
Bob Waddle, lead assessor for SGS, said in his report: “Following the assessment, Sheffield City Council customer services were found to have a deep understanding of, and commitment to, Customer Service Excellence. The commitment was displayed from senior management levels through to operations and front line staff.”