Agenda item

We Listen, We Care - Customer Service Programme End of Phase Two Review

To receive details on the progress made in Phase Two of the Customer Service Programme, and to agree the priorities for Phase Three of the Customer Service Programme, and an End of Phase Three report to be presented to Cabinet in the Spring of 2024.




Cabinet received an update report on progress in relation to delivering Phase Two of the Customer Service Programme, and sought approval to the priorities for Phase Three of the Customer Service Programme.


The Authority’s Customer Service Programme (the Programme), agreed by Cabinet on 28 May 2019, was an organisation wide focus on how the Authority brought to life its organisation’s values – we listen, and we care. Its alignment with Our North Tyneside Plan was clear, building a better North Tyneside, looking to the future, listening to, and working better for residents.


The Programme was built from customer feedback; be that of residents, Elected Members, teams and / or partners. The Authority had listened to what its customers were saying about their experience of North Tyneside Council services and had four main objectives it wanted to achieve:


  1. Improved customer service standards across all Authority services, (Customer Promise)
  2. Improved clarity, quality and consistency of the small but vital impressions the Authority makes, in communication and branding (Brilliant Basics)
  3. Improved services which are designed and delivered around the needs of customers, (Customer First) and
  4. An increased culture of continuous improvement (Better Never Stops).


Not only was improved customer experience and satisfaction the right thing to do for the people the Authority served, but it was also a reflection of the Authority’s ambition for the Borough, residents, and the organisation. The Authority clearly understood the cost of not getting this right, both in terms of poorer outcomes for customers and the cost to the organisation, in time and resource spent ‘fixing things’ later.


Phase One of the Programme was reviewed by Cabinet on 19 February 2021 and priorities for Phase Two were agreed, building in learning from the Authority’s Covid-19 Recovery Programme.  A workplan and governance arrangements for Phase Two started in September 2021.


This report was a review of Phase Two of the Authority’s Customer Service Programme – September 2021 to August 2022. This planned review formed part of the governance arrangements for the Programme.  The purpose of the End of Phase review was to:


·       Reflect on what has been delivered in this Phase – celebrate achievements and assess learning for future Phases of the Programme

·       Assess if the Phase has delivered against the Programme’s main objectives and ask if these remain the right objectives

·       Listen to customer feedback to assess if there are any changes needed for the Programme and subsequent Phases

·       Review Programme management arrangements and assess if these are suitable for the next Phase, and

·       Gain appropriate agreement and buy-in for the priorities for Phase Three of the Programme.


Using the Programme’s four main objectives and priorities agreed by Cabinet on 22 February 2021, the table in section 1.5.3 of the report highlighted the deliverables and achievements that had been realised in Phase Two of the Customer Service Programme.  Section six of the Appendix to the report, listed all the deliverables and achievements for each of the 4 main objectives of the Programme; as summarised in the report.


Phase Two of the Programme had seen over 80 officers, Elected Members and partners, collaborating on over 30 customer improvement projects – all designed to improve things for the Authority’s customers, to make sure it listened to them and to act on what they told the Authority to make sure North Tyneside Council was always value for money.


The Authority delivered many award winning and independently rated services - including OFSTED rated ‘outstanding’ services for children and young people; eight Green Flags for parks and cemeteries and an award for ‘partnership of the year’ with Northumbria Police for community protection. It was essential that the Programme continued to be driven by the ongoing experience and feedback of its customers, Elected Members and teams.


The report summarised Customer feedback about their experiences The 2021 Resident Survey showed overall satisfaction with the Authority from its residents had increased, in stark contrast to a decline of 7% nationally in 2021. Residents were more satisfied with their recent contact with the Authority, with more of them saying they felt listened to; and felt that the Authority, would do what it said it would do.  However, fewer residents felt their enquiry was cared about by the Authority and this was at the heart of the Customer Service Programme – work would continue in the Customer Promise workstream in Phase Three of the Programme, to track progress on this issue.  Feedback from the 2021 Resident Survey also showed that customers who contacted the Authority online were more likely to be satisfied with their overall experience, than those who made contact by email.  Again, further work in Phase Three of the Programme would explore this further, to understand what the issues were and what work might need to be carried out.


The perception of anti-social behaviour, particularly at night, was highlighted in the 2021 Resident Survey. A dedicated task force had been created with colleagues across the Authority working with partners to tackle anti-social behaviour and address concerns from residents.


The Authority understood that good customer experience, was often not based on what was provided, but how it was provided.


In 2021, residents engaged with the Authority through development of the Our North Tyneside Plan and through budget engagement with the Residents Panel told the Authority they wanted to better understand how the Authority decides what it spent its money on and asked that clearer language was used in all engagement. This feedback would inform how information was provided to residents in the Our North Tyneside residents magazine and future engagement approached with the Residents Panel.


Customer views and experiences would continue to drive the Programme in Phase Three, from corporate engagement activity, the Resident Survey, corporate complaints, and Elected Member enquiries. Where relevant, feedback from individual services would also be assessed and individual workstreams and the Programme Board, would strengthen how they ensured individual change activities were involving customers in specific service changes and improvements.  The 2021 Staff Survey told the Authority that the link between employees who were safe, happy, healthy and appropriately paid, and great customer service to residents, was self-evident


The End of Phase Two review, appended to the report, captured the work to reflect; check-in with what customers were telling the Authority; celebrated what had been achieved and the difference it was making; and refined the work for Phase Three of the Programme from October 2022 to March 2024.   Using learning from the Programme to date; End of Phase Two review and customer, team and Elected Member feedback, the priorities proposed for Phase Three were detailed in section 1.5.5 of the report.


Cabinet considered the following decision options:  to either approve the recommendations as set out in section 1.2 of the report, or alternatively, to not approve the recommendations.


Resolved that (1) the progress made in Phase Two of the Customer Service Programme, be noted;

(2)   the priorities for Phase Three of the Customer Service Programme, as set out in

section 1.5.4 of the report, be approved; and

(3) an End of Phase Three report for the Customer Service Programme to be presented to Cabinet in the Spring of 2024, be noted.


(Reason for decision: The priorities outlined have been developed following a formal End of Phase Two review of the Customer Service Programme. The proposed priorities for Phase Three, continue to support the ambition set out in the Programme and the 4 objectives agreed by Cabinet on 28 May 2019.)





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