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Your Questions Answered


with NAIS and Contact Centre staff

During our engagement sessions for soft skills training, we asked you to let us know if you had any questions about Customer First and how it would affect you. As we received over 300 questions, many of which raised similar issues, we have grouped the answers into themes. Although we have not answered each question individually, we have endeavoured to cover ALL the issues you raised.

About Customer First

What is Customer First? How does it link to wider Council objectives?

Customer First puts customers at the heart of everything we do across the whole Council. It will build on all the good customer service that already exists and ensure that is achieved across all Council services. There are also things we can improve on. For example, sometimes today the more vulnerable and disadvantaged people who most need a service find it hardest to access what they want. Today there are inconsistencies in response times, quality standards and data.

Customer First has identified 8 key outcomes which link directly to the Council’s strategic objectives:

· Simple and convenient access to all services across a choice of methods

· More transactions completed at the first point of contact

· Being able to follow a transaction through from the point of contact to delivery, so that performance is visible to staff,members and customers.

· Consistent and improved standards of customerhandling

· Customers dealt with by proactive, knowledgeable customer focused staff, empowered to put the customer first

· Increased use of knowledge of customers to ensure services meet their needs and outcomes that resolve the root causes of customer complaints

· Greater awareness of the Council’s services

· Increased customer and staff satisfaction

Between 2009 and 2012, Customer First will deliver:

· A single, joined-up approach across all Councilservices

· A brand new user-friendly web site which can be personalised by customers

· ONE telephone number, postal and email address to access all council services

· Modern, welcoming face-to-face facilities across the city providing a wider range of services

· Appointment booking to see advisors

· The ability to track an enquiry right through todelivery

The changes that will happen to support this are:

· A common approach to customer service across theCouncil

· Creation of a new Customer Services Organisation bringing together staff from across the Council with customer handlingexpertise

· The majority of customer calls routed through tothe Contact Centre

· Staff with the right level of knowledge and skill matched to each customer’s enquiry

· A single customer database for use across the Council – one record per customer

· Streamlined systems and processes to make transactions quicker and easier

· Access to detailed information about customer needs and preferences to help plan services and get it right first time

What will happen when?

The changes we will see in 2009 are:

April – July:

· All staff in the Neighbourhood Offices and Contact Centre trained in customer service skills

· New appointment booking system for Neighbourhood Offices

· Benefits applications completed by phone

· Increased opening hours for some services at the Contact Centre.

August – December:

· Launch of the new website and personal account for customers

· New CRM database launched for Roll-out 1 Service Areas and Neighbourhood Offices

· All calls to Neighbourhood Offices transferred to the Contact Centre

· Refurbishment of Neighbourhood Offices begins

· Access to in-depth customer knowledge to drive strategic and service planning

The table below shows which service area will be included ineach rollout.

Roll Out 1 Aug 2009 Roll Out 2 Quarter 1 2010 Roll Out 3 Quarter 3 2010 Roll Out 4 Quarter 2 2011 Roll Out 5 Quarter 1 2012

NAIS Benefits Council Tax Housing Repairs Private Sector Housing Household Waste Management Recycling Street Cleaning BASBU Recruitment EDT OOHC Switchboard Highways Highways – Parking Planning Sport & Leisure Commercial Waste Management Parks Public Health Constituency Engineers Elections Older Adults Learning Disabilities Mental Health Occupational Therapy Physical Disabilities Domestic Management Meals Direct Adult Education Inclusion Services Transforming Education Specialist Services Registrars Bereavement Services Housing Rents Housing Needs Housing Allocations Housing Regeneration Estate Management Community Safety Ward Support Central Payment & Pensions, Sundry Debtors Cashiers Play & Development Central Library Library Services Museums & Heritage Licensing Markets Business Rates Building Consultancy Civic Catering

When it is time for a service to be involved in the CustomerFirst implementation, a Change Champion will be appointed to represent theservice within the Customer First programme team. They will work with people across the service area to build the detailed design and implementation plans for that service, as well asassessing business impacts.

When will the first Customer Service Centre open?

The full business case for the first Customer Service Centrein Newtown is going to Members in June. A decision will then be made on the planned opening date.

How has feedback from customers informed this decision?

Feedback from customers has played an important part in the development of Customer First and will continue to inform our ongoing customer service delivery.

We carried out specific work with customers in the early stages of the programme. Five thousand people were surveyed about customer service and this helped shape our priorities and design. We then ran focus groups with customers to test our proposals.

We have held a number of “user labs” where customers havetested our developing web design. This has included stringent accessibility testing to ensure that the majority of users, including those with disabilities, are able to use self-service if they choose to do so. We carried out consultation with the public about the designs for the new Newtown Customer Service Centre, showing them what we were thinking of doing in order to get their feedback.

On an ongoing basis, we run a variety of customer satisfaction surveys ranging from specific surveys for individual service areasto more general surveys across the council as a whole. For example, the PLACE survey(replacing MORI), runs every 2 years to measure percentage of customer satisfaction with the council overall, and the LAA Be Birmingham Strategic Partnership survey runs on an annual basis. In addition this is supported by a monthly mystery shopping exercise conducted by an independent market research agency.

Is this an appropriate model for BCC?

Customer First is about improving the way that customers are able to access Council Services, providing choice and convenience.

At an early stage we researched a number of other big cities - Chicago, New York and Barcelona - who have implemented similar changes. Their local authorities have all introduced elements of what we are planning to do with great success.

Our research with customers has also shown that they would welcome the changes.

How is Customer First being funded and how much does itcost? Is the money coming from staff cuts? Couldn't the money have been better spent on front line services?

As part of the Customer First transformation programme, the Council is putting in place a revised operating model, with the aim of significantly improving customer service levels. To achieve the council's objectives for improving customer satisfaction and to help achieve itsefficiency targets, the Customer First programme needs to be affordable. This means that the costs of the programme need to balance with its financial benefits.

The Cabinet Procurement Committee agreed a full business case which is reviewed at key milestones during the life of the programme. The costs have been estimated at £175million over 10 years. The projected benefits to be realised from the programme are £321 million over 10years, of which £197.4 million is cashable.

The programme will help the council to improve its efficiency in both the new Customer Services organisation and in service areas.This will lead to budget adjustments. If, as a result of the changes, any staff are displaced they will be supported through the council’s In Source facility. All staff will be kept informed and will be consulted throughout the change process as it evolves.

Is this just another initiative which will never come to fruition? What happens if it doesn't work?

There is an absolute commitment from the most senior levels of the Council to ensure that we transform our customer services. We are already well on the way to delivering new ways of working which will deliver significant benefits for our customers, staff and for Birmingham as a whole.

We will constantly review and monitor progress and continuously improve and adapt our delivery. There will be clear performance indicators and service level agreements which will help us to see whether we are on track.

What if things go wrong? What contingency plans are there and how will we maintain data security?

There are business continuity processes to ensure that customer services will still function in the event of a major systems failure. Naturally we want to avoid this as far as possible and are implementing a solution that means that the computing infrastructure will be split across two sites so that if a computer on one site fails, we can switch to another. There is also a robust testing phase to each transformation programme.

All the data is stored in an encrypted format on highly secure servers. Access to the data is also tightly controlled by security levels built in to the system. The Council also has strict governance procedures for data access and security which are regularly scrutinised by the Government’s Information Commissioner.

How Will Customer Services Be Delivered in the Future?

Are we moving away from a face to face service?

The Council is committed to providing a face to face service. That is why we are investing in modern, state of the art Customer Service Centres across the city. One of our key objectives is to ensure simple and convenient access to all council services across a choice of methods. However, many services can be more quickly and efficiently delivered electronically or over the phone. This means that we can dedicate our face to face delivery to those customers who most need it.

How will greater use of web and telephone be better for customers, particularly the vulnerable?

The Customer First design principles and strategic outcomes focus on maximising access to all services according to customer need. By encouraging channel shift for customers who are able to use Self-Service or Contact Centre channels, we are freeing up Neighbourhood Office/Customer Service Centre advisors to dedicate their time to the customers who really need their attention.

Customers will be encouraged to use the Self-Service channel for information purposes and for performing simple transactions. Self-Service will offer customers a fast and effective way ofinteracting with the council for appropriate services. Floor walkers in the Customer ServiceCentre will be available to support people who want to give self-service a go.Customers will still be able to use other channels for these services if they prefer.

We have done a full equalities impact needs assessment across all channels to ensure that we are not disadvantaging any section of the population.

How will everyone involved in Customer First - NeighbourhoodOffices, the Contact Centre, Service Areas - work together to ensure a seamless service?

Customer First will, for the first time, bring together all 3 channels - web, phone and face to face. This means that customers - and service areas - only need to tell us information once and we can assess impact across every channel. We are also creating service management which will introduce much tighter procedures around forecasting and change control. We will be introducing a continuous improvement procedure - asking people on the front line to give us feedback about what is working and what isn't. And we will be answering more at first point of contact - constantly developing our knowledge base will give front line staff the information they need to meet those targets. Neighbourhood Offices and the Contact Centre will be using the same system for recording information from customers so that should ensure a seamless service in this respect. Detailed discussions are ongoing between service areas and Customer First about how service delivery and customer handling will work together inthe future.

The Contact Centre will receive the same Customer First skills training as Neighbourhood Office staff to ensure that the level of customer service is consistent between Neighbourhood Offices and the Contact Centre. Regular quality checks will also be undertaken in the Contact Centre to ensure that the quality of the service meets BCC requirements. The Key Performance Indicators and Performance Indicators within the contract with Vertex contain a number of quality measures that Vertex has to achieve on a monthly basis. BCC also employs an independent market research agency to conduct a mystery shopping exercise each month which tests the level of service that the Contact Centre provides across all services using scenarios agreed with the service areas.

What is being done to ensure that service delivery meets the expectations raised by Customer First?

One of our key strategic outcomes is to ensure that transactions can be followed through from the point of contact to delivery and that performance is visible to staff, members and customers.

A service ticket will be raised for each transaction and kept live throughout an enquiry so that we can see its status. We will also be able to monitor performance by constituency, by service area etc. This is one of the key ways we expect to drive service improvement. The evidence from Chicago and New York is that this approach has resulted in a major improvement in tackling the root causes of problems.

All service areas have been involved in the design of Customer First. We are now setting up service level agreements (SLAs) which outline the commitment as to who will do what within what timescales. In addition, because we will all be using the same system, there will be better visibility through reporting - ie it will be possible to see which services are meeting their SLAs or not to take swift action.

What other services might we provide?

We are currently developing technology to support SMS text messaging and hope to go live with this in the near future. We will also continue to provide home visits for those customers who need them.

What consultation has been / will be done with front line staff about what will and won't work?

We have involved staff throughout the process so far and will continue to do so.

A range of staff have been involved in different aspects of the design process as it has evolved from the start, including service reviews, physical logical design workshops, workshops on roles and visits to other councils. The Service Change Lead was appointed to work closely on all the detail involved in the design of all processes and procedures.

All Neighbourhood Office staff were invited to the Showcase where there was an opportunity to ask questions and make comments which we havetaken into consideration as we develop the design further. Staff will also participate in change impact workshops to provide feedback on the detailed implications of the implementation.

We are currently piloting the appointment system with the Contact Centre and the Erdington, Saltley, Sparkbrook and Northfield Neighbourhood Offices and are about to start a pilot of E-Benefits inBirchfield and Yardley Wood. The feedback from these pilots will help usdevelop systems and processes.

There has also been extensive engagement regarding the look and feel of the offices.

Contact Centre Advisers have been commenting on the look andfeel of the new system and this is being taken into account as we develop it further.

Staff from the Neighbourhood Offices are well represented onthe programme including testing and the change team.

As part of the continuous improvement process we will ask staff for feedback about what is and is not working in order to adapt and improve our systems and processes going forward.

How will the appointment system work?

The Contact Centre is already successfully making appointments on behalf of Erdington and Saltley Neighbourhood Offices as part of a pilot that was launched in March 2008. More recently this was extended to Northfield and Sparkbrook Neighbourhood Offices in August 2008. Advice has been provided by the Neighbourhood Offices as to the correct amount of time to be allocated to each type of appointment. As part of the pilot, staff evaluation questionnaires are being completed following appointments; this enables Neighbourhood Office staff to provide feedback to the Contact Centre regarding the amount of time allocated to appointments, and to determine whether adjustments need to be made. Lessons learned from this pilot will be applied to Customer First.

The appointment system will be based on CRM. It is a calendar that managers can enter details of available appointment slots and available advisors. Skills can be stored against the advisor to help identify a suitable person. These appointment scan then be made available for bookings by the contact centre and the face to face advisors.

Customers will be able to ring the Contact Centre, where a Customer Services Advisor (CSA) will diagnose and determine the most appropriate way to meet the customer’s needs. This may be by offering 1st Response advice themselves, by transferring the call to a 2nd response team, e.g. Revenues/ Benefits or by making an appointment in a Neighbourhood Office/Customer Service Centre. Upon arrival at the office, the customer may wish to use the self service check in facility, operating from a kiosk and thus avoiding the need to wait at reception. The CRM system will ensure that the arrival of the customer will be displayed on the advisor’s computer screen in readiness for the forthcoming interview.

Not all appointments will be pre – booked by telephone, customers will also be able to make an appointment in person if required.

Guidelines and training will be given to the CSA in the Contact Centre to ensure that appointments are made for the correct length of time, taking into account any special requirements. The quality of this activity will be monitored.

How will the single number work?

The single number will be introduced as part of Rollout 2, replacing 450 telephone numbers currently in use. The single number will help customers who don’t know how to contact the Council or who have a simple enquiry. By using the single number the first response team should be able to deal with their call.

Initially, calls to existing numbers will be diverted into first response and we will monitor usage before phasing these numbers out gradually.

We will still have separate numbers direct to second response teams in service areas. Where customers already have a relationship with a specific team or individual they will be able to call direct.

It is likely that the single number will be an 0121 number. For certain transactions that require a long telephone call (e.g. Benefits applications), it is likely that we will offer customers the option to book a call back appointment. The exact services that this will apply to are currently being defined. Any calls to the Contact Centre will be at a local rate for people calling from within the city.

What are the plans for extended opening hours?

There are no plans to extend opening hours in Neighbourhood Offices, but the Customer Services Centre will have longer opening hours. It is not envisaged that this will include Saturdays or after 5.15pm in the evenings.

For Rollout 1 the opening hours in the Contact Centre will be 8am until 8pm, with a 24 hour service for Housing Repairs and the Emergency Duty Team. For Rollout 2 the Contact Centre will be open 24 / 7 for a wider range of services.

What services will be available at a Customer Service Centre?

The first Customer Service Centre in Newtown will deliver the same services as the current Neighbourhood Offices.

As we introduce new Customer Service Centres we will take into account the different customer profile and needs in each area. There is potential for other services to be delivered but this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

How will performance be measured and communicated? What targets will be set?

The key measures and targets for Customer First are:

· Increase our customer’s overall satisfaction with all Birmingham City Council services from 59% to 85%

· Resolve 80% of enquiries at the initial point ofcontact

· Increase proportion of online transactions from 6% to 35%

· 100% of service requests capable of being tracked by customers, officers and members

· All customer services staff to be (Institute of Customer Services) ICS qualified

· Reduce customer contact volumes through tackling root causes

The Contact Centre will receive the same Customer First skills training as Neighbourhood Office staff to ensure that the level of customer service is consistent between Neighbourhood Offices and the Contact Centre. Contact Centre Advisors are also regularly monitored to ensure that the quality of the service meets BCC requirements. The KPIs and PIs within the contract with Vertex contain a number of quality measures that Vertex has to achieve on a monthly basis. BCC also employs an independent market research agency to conduct a mystery shopping exercise each month which tests the level of service that the Contact Centre provides across all services in the Centre using scenarios agreed with the service areas.

The targets will be agreed across all the channels and communicated through line managers where they impact on individual staff.

Jobs and Pay

What will the future structure of Neighbourhood Offices be?

New Customer Service Centres will replace some existing Neighbourhood Offices. This will be decided on a case by case basis and will bein consultation with constituencies and Neighbourhood Office staff. There is no firm plan at present.

As we implement changes to services such as benefits and council tax and introduce the potential for customers to resolve more enquiries by phone or online, we will be monitoring the impact on demand in Neighbourhood Offices and reviewing the future operating model over the coming year.

Will there be any job losses as a result of Customer First? If so, how many and where?

The aim of the programme is to free up resources to improve the services we deliver.

In the first few years we are not planning job reductions but it is possible that staff may be asked to move to a different part of the Customer Services Organisation.

Over the longer term, we do anticipate a reduction in headcount. This is likely to follow the curve of channel shift – in other words, as more customers access services through the web or by phone we expect staffing levels to follow the same trend. However any reduction will be spread over a number of years and we anticipate that it will be absorbed through natural turnover of staff.

However it is possible that there may be a very limited number of employees who become displaced and, if this is the case, the City Council has a policy in respect to taking care of and supporting those individuals to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible. This support is provided through the In-Source team who will support staff in finding suitable alternative employment within BCC. At the moment there is no time limit on finding alternative employment, however if the policy were to change, then the Trade Unions would be consulted and staff informed.

Will we get a pay increase or have our jobs re-graded as aresult of the extra work and broader expertise required?

NAIS staff:

There are no current plans to change the grading of existing roles.

Vertex staff:

Where it is evidenced that extra work is created or broaderexpertise is required, that is where the profile of the role changes, then theCompany commits to utilising the pathways job evaluation tool to assess whetherthese changes would increase the grade of the role and therefore move it to ahigher rate of pay.

The pathways job evaluation process has been previouslyagreed as a fair tool by the CWU and any re-evaluation would be completed inconjunction with Union representatives.

Where job roles are changing, job descriptions and grades are yet to be agreed. Once they are, we will carry out appropriate consultation with those staff affected.

Will there be any parity of pay between BCC and Vertex?

NAIS staff:

This information is yet to be confirmed. However BCC employees who transfer over will do so on their existing salary.

Vertex staff:

Where it is deemed that profile of a role haschanged, then the role will be re-evaluated to assess whether a re-grade andtherefore change in rate of pay is necessary.

Where there it is deemed that the profile of the role hasnot changed, then the rate of pay and grade of that role will also remainunchanged.

Under employment law, when employees move from one employerto another, due to a decision made by the Companies to move that piece of work,then those original employees who carried out that work are entitled to movealso. They are entitled to move,or transfer to the second business, on the same terms and conditions that theyreceived with the first employer, and this includes their current rate of pay.

In summary therefore, Vertex will not be changing the rateof pay for any of its roles unless they have been re-graded.

What is the role of managers during these changes?

The role of managers is to provide support and communication to their staff.

We are currently finalising detailed communication plans to help support all staff through the transition. We will ensure that your managers have the information they need to support you.

Our intention is to provide detailed monthly briefings setting out what is happening, why, how and when. There will be an opportunity to discuss this with your manager and to provide feedback and questions. In addition we will provide written factsheets which set out how these changes will affect you.

We will also use the Updater newsletter to respond to your feedback and questions so that there is a regular flow of information.

There will also be a range of supporting material including newsletters and demonstrations of new systems and processes and we will regularly update the intranet with all of the information we have available.

Managers are also attending the soft skills training, including special sessions for those with staff responsibilities.

What will be done to improve morale?

One of our key targets is to be rated as one of the top 10 per cent of local authorities based on measurement of customer and staff satisfaction.

One of the key objectives of Customer First is to recognise customer service as a valued profession within the Council. That is why we are investing in training and support to boost the skills and capabilities of over 1,200 customer-facing staff and providing opportunities to gain industry recognised, Institute of Customer Services professional qualifications. We are also investing in modern, safe, efficient and professional working environments, reflecting the high standard of service we ask you to deliver.

What happens to our pensions if we transfer to the Contact Centre?

BCC employees who second over to the Contact Centre will remain in the Local Government Pension scheme. If employees TUPE transfer then Vertex has admitted body status with the LGPS and therefore your Pension can continue and entitlements remain the same.

Will we have to reapply for our jobs?

The detail of any changes to jobs is yet to be defined. If any changes were to occur, consultation would be carried out.

How are we supposed to deliver more but with fewer resources?

The Customer First model will help to ensure we organise our resources more efficiently, based on the complexity of tasks. By encouraging customers to access services in different ways and to use self-service where they are able, we will have greater capacity for staff to deal with complex enquiries and help those customers who really need our support.

How does Single Status affect Customer First?

The Customer First programme is not related to single status and will have no impact on single status decisions.

Will there be an opportunity for home working?

Home working may be an option and would be subject to management approval.

How will decisions be made about who is first and secondresponse?

This will depend on the nature of work which will transfer. We will work closely with the service area to identify the best approach.

What hours are we expected to work?

This depends on which channel an employee works in.

What will happen to job roles? Where will we be working? Who will we be working for - BCC or Vertex?

The Contact Centre is currently managed by Vertex. They employ their own staff to answer telephone enquiries on behalf of BCC for a number of service areas (for example Waste Management and Housing Repairs). For additional and new services transferring into the Contact Centre, the Customer First Programme will seek to second BCC employee resources into the Contact Centre in the first instance.

The new Customer Services organisation is a Birmingham City Council run service. The only time BCC employees may be employed by another organisation is if the service within which they currently work transfers to the Contact Centre (currently managed by Vertex). Staff will then be given the option to transfer to Vertex under a TUPE transfer or remain an employee of BCC and work for theContact Centre on a secondment agreement.

There may be a need in the future to move work location or jobs; standard BCC policy will apply in this case. All staff have a ‘mobility clause’ built into their contract which states that individuals may be moved to other locations throughout the City, following proper prior consultation. The terms and conditions of service allow for the payment of a disturbance allowance for a period of up to 4 years from the actual date of transfer to the new location. This payment is based upon the difference in cost from home to old location, and home to new location, using public transport rates. Once a claim has been approved this is paid monthly through salaries. If relocation is potentially a requirement then employees (as well as Trade Unions) will be fully consulted.

Is there a possibility of being employed direct for BCC and not through Vertex?

Any transfer of BCC services and staff will be to Vertex who currently manage the Contact Centre. Therefore there is no justification to transfer employees from Vertex to BCC.

I can't get a direct job with BCC yet work for Vertex. Why, if I have the skills and experience?

Individuals who do not work for BCC are eligible to apply for jobs once internal recruitment has been exhausted and job adverts are placed externally in the Forward paper or on BCC Website.

How will staff performance be recognised?

BCC will have performance recognised with the introduction of the new PDR process.

'The Birmingham Way’ will also help us to identify, develop, recognise and reward employees’ excellent practice and commitment to achieving the Council's key priorities. More details can be obtained via the link: http://transformationinline.birmingham.gov.uk/content/blogcategory/177/234/


Who will be included in the soft skills training?

Both Neighbourhood Office Staff and Contact Centre Staff including the repairs and emergency duty team will be the initial focus of soft skills training during Rollout 1. The rationale behind this is that these members of staff have most daily contact with Birmingham City Council customers.

The training needs analysis exercise conducted with Neighbourhood Office staff and Contact Centre staff identified a lack of understanding of the challenges faced by each of the groups. The sharing of experience, issues and opportunities will encourage healthy working between the teams. Evaluation from both the Contact Centre and Neighbourhood Office staff has highlighted that this is seen as a very positive move.

A small number of staff from early transition services, i.e. services from Rollout 2 may also attend the training as their services are moved into Rollout 1.

If we can't attend our allocated training days will we be trained on another day?

Training for Neighbourhood Offices will be scheduled byMargaret Parker and Joanne Meaden from the NOSSU training team. Margaret and Joanne will work with managers to ensure the spread of staff attending the training does not impact unduly on the day to day running of individual Neighbourhood Offices. Poonam Mistry is undertaking a similar process for the Contact Centre.

Will we be assessed after the training? How will we measure what impact it has had?

Customer First plans to build in a series of mechanisms that will monitor the impact of CRM training. This has been done throughout delivery of soft skills training. The mechanisms will be used to help the team continually improve the training delivered.

Team Leaders and Managers will help to embed the concepts covered in the training and will look to develop continuous improvement in the way services are delivered to Customers.

Future customer satisfaction surveys and our mystery shopper surveys will help to measure and monitor improvements.

How much training will we get on each service?

The Customer First Training team are planning to provide the Neighbourhood Office network and Contact Centre with three days training on how to operate the new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems. Further training may be provided by other specialist services on linkages with existing legacy systems that will interface with the new CRM system. The Customer First Training team are currently in discussion with service area specialists to determine an achievable plan. Other support mechanisms willbe introduced, such as floor walkers etc., during the implementation stage.

What additional training and support will we get to ensure Customer First is a success?

Training needs analysis is an integral part of training development and will be conducted prior to each rollout phase. The training team are monitoring the effectiveness of the training so that continuous improvements can be made to materials as appropriate.

During the engagement session the trainers asked individuals to identify what they can do to help deliver the eight key outcomes of the Customer First programme. The purpose of this session was to help individuals explore how they could make a difference. Managers will also be meeting with their team to discuss how their teamas a whole can make a difference.

We recognise that there is a need to ensure that the right tools and support are available to staff to help them deliver Customer First, particularly during the implementation stage when we will, for example, have floor walkers available to provide face-to-face guidance.

Will the trainers learn our services and is all of the training necessary?

A number of staff with detailed knowledge of NAIS are now working on the programme (Karen James, Julie Boughton, Julie Homer, CliveTrafford, Nina Randhawa etc). Their focus is to make sure processes will work in practice and they are involving staff in the development of new systems and processes. Karen James is organising a number of follow-up engagement sessions for Neighbourhood Offices that will enable staff to have input. Tracey Gordon is doing the same for the Contact Centre. The team is working closely with the trainers to ensure that training reflects the needs of Neighbourhood Office and Contact Centre staff.

During the training needs analysis it was clear that staff had a range of existing Customer Service skills. Some members of staff had many years of experience and it became clear that an approach that encompassed the sharing of best practice would be welcomed. An initial selection of training organisations was made. Staff from the Contact Centre and Neighbourhood Office volunteered to take part in a mini training session that would evaluate the respective training organisations. This approach gained a unanimous agreement to appoint the current training Company“Steps”.

When will the new training plan be ready?

A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) exercise was conducted before training design began to establish exact requirements. As a result, soft skills training was developed to help share good practice throughout the customer service teams within the Contact Centre and Neighbourhood Offices. Training on the new CRM system will also be provided to ensure that staff develop the skills required to operate the CRM systems effectively. We are currently working with Neighbourhood Offices and the Contact Centre to determine the best timing for training delivery as we are aware there are many competing demands on staff time.

Why is so much importance being attached to ICS? How is it being supported?