Second national award for Customer First

By on 27/01/2011 in News

Ambitious plans drawn up by Birmingham City Council to transform the delivery of customer services have won a second prestigious national award in the space of just two months.

Customer First was named as a winner in the e-Government National Awards 2010, staged at London's Guildhall last night (January 26).

The programme scooped the top honour in the category for e-Government excellence: Innovation is strategy at a local level.

News of award comes after a win in the 'Innovation and Progress - Customer Service' category at the Guardian Public Service Awards in November.

The e-Government National Awards are regarded as the UK's most closely watched public sector technology awards, supported by the Prime Minister David Cameron.

They recognise excellence and innovation in digital initiatives in national and local government, the NHS, education and the third sector.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “To win such a well-respected award in such a short space of time is a magnificent achievement.

“It's a special tribute to all the staff that have made the positive change in service delivery happen, because I know how hard they have worked in the programme team to implement the changes and in our Neighbourhood Offices and Contact Centres delivering the services and answering queries and providing help in the best way they can.

“The whole system is changing and we've got to move with the times.

“We launched our changes earlier last year and more than half of all enquiries are now dealt with at the first point of contact.

“Many people really want to use IT to connect with the city council in the same way they use many other websites. What we have introduced enables us to have a far quicker response to their queries, many of which are simple to deal with. People can open their own customer accounts with us, which they were not able to do before and track their council services.

“The old system was made for people who are time rich, who didn't mind queuing up at offices.

“The new system is far slicker, makes far more use of our employees' skills, whether it is face-to-face contact or using IT technology, offering customers choice, and answering queries in a far more responsive way.”

Welcoming the news, Service Birmingham Chief Executive Stewart Wren said:
“We're absolutely delighted to have played a part in helping the city council transform the way it offers the people of Birmingham the chance to access public services.

“Everyone involved with this programme is justifiably proud of what has been achieved. These types of awards recognise actual achievement and the field is highly competitive.

“It is doubly satisfying given the impact will be felt most by the people of Birmingham who are now able to access key public services in a way that suits them best.”

Prime Minister David Cameron added: “The e-Government National Awards recognise some of the brilliant work done by digital specialists working across national and local government.

“One of our big ambitions is to make government more transparent, open and accountable and digital communications will play a massive part in that. I congratulate all the nominees and encourage all digital specialists across the public sector to follow their good example and innovation.”


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 £1billion 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, and a brand new user-friendly city council web site personalised for customers. First-time resolution for 80 per cent of enquiries and an increase in customer satisfaction from 59 to 85 per cent are key drivers behind the programme.

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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