Landmark in customer service improvement

By on 02/07/2009 in News

A major milestone has been reached by Birmingham City Council as part of its efforts to improve the quality of services enjoyed by citizens.

The council's has just enrolled its 1,000th customer-facing employee on a course that will ultimately result in an industry-standard Institute of Customer Service (ICS) award.

Lynne Bridgman (left), Birmingham City Council's 1000th ICS Practitioner, with colleague Rose Coton who is also working towards an ICS Award

Lynne Bridgman (left) with colleague Rose Coton who is also working towards an ICS Award

Lynne Bridgman, Service Delivery Manager at Cotteridge Neighbourhood Office, where customers can access council services and other services relating to matters such as pensions and housing, is working towards an ICS qualification in 'Solutions'.

Solutions is one of the three ICS levels, along with Communications and Innovations, and looks specifically at the way the employee delivers customer service, finding ways to overcome hurdles and improve ways of working.

Lynne is completing an ICS Passport in which she will record and learn from her interactions with customers and colleagues in a learning log, which needs to meet the award requirements. Once her Passport is complete, Lynne will be assessed on five “Key Events” and she hopes to achieve her ICS Award by January 2010.

“Achieving an ICS award is a team effort in Cotteridge Neighbourhood Office,” Lynne said.

“All my staff are either working towards an ICS Award or have already obtained one. I started to feel guilty because I was the one that persuaded them to sign up and they kept asking me when I was going to do mine!

“We are glad to be setting an example and definitely recommend other teams across the council, and the business sector as a whole, to get involved.”

By 2014, it is hoped that 8,000 staff from across the council will have obtained ICS awards.

Officially known as Practitioners, successful candidates attend a graduation ceremony at the Council House where they are formally presented with their certificates.

The ICS programme will play a key part in enabling the council to deliver its Customer First Business Transformation programme, being delivered in partnership with Service Birmingham. The programme aims to improve the level of customer satisfaction in council services up to 85 per cent - which would make the city amongst the best nationally.

One of the 1,000 to have already achieved an ICS award is Chief Executive Stephen Hughes, who graduated with an 'Innovations' award in January 2008.

He said: “I personally act as champion of this programme, because it is a way of giving people permission to challenge the way we work and how best we can help the people of Birmingham - I want all our employees to think about what they can do to make the lives of people in Birmingham better.

“We are committed to being an organisation where the customer comes first, where managers and staff serve Birmingham people wherever that is needed, where we solve people's problems and where we collaborate and make decisions as near to the frontline as possible.

“The ICS Awards process has been one very pragmatic tool for achieving these goals and I too wouldn't hesitate to recommend that other local authorities adopt it.”

ENDS 

Notes to editors

  1. Business Transformation is Birmingham City Council's ambitious nine-strand programme which aims to modernise and enhance services delivered across the whole authority to citizens. It is projected that the programme will realise benefits of around £1.5billion over the ten years to 2016.
  2. Service Birmingham is a strategic partnership between Birmingham City Council and Capita which will support a transformation in the way the council works; improving services and contributing to its efficiency agenda. This strategic partnership forms part of the council’s objective to find better and more innovative ways of delivering services for the benefit of employees and citizens. The principle of this joint venture focuses on the provision of cost effective, sector leading, ICT services and in supporting the council in achieving its business transformation objectives.
  3. Customer First is one of nine programmes which make up Birmingham City Council's ambitious Business Transformation programme, and will help deliver a range of improvements giving residents world-class standards of customer service. As part of the wider package, Customer First will provide simpler and easier ways of accessing council services, a single '0121' telephone number to access all council services, a brand new user-friendly city council web site personalised for customers. Increased customer satisfaction is a key driver behind the programme.
  4. ICS is the body that sets standards for customer service professionalism in both the private and public sectors. Its main purpose is to develop and spread good practice in customer service across organisations by recognising, rewarding and celebrating the attainment of customer service excellence by individuals. Private sector firms that have been involved with the ICS scheme include Tesco and Virgin.

For further information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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