Monday, 8 June 2015

Customer Service: being excellent

Jackie Knowles talks about our ongoing mission to maintain excellence in the service we provide to our customers.

We are proud to announce that the Information Directorate has successfully been revalidated for the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation.

In the twelve months since first achieving our CSE accreditation in April 2014 we have been working hard at ensuring we maintain our focus on our users and striving for excellence across everything we do. This has meant continuing to listen and engage with our users, making more improvements based on what we find out, continuing to share our good practice and maintaining our overall culture of putting customers at the heart of everything we do.

Our CSE revalidation visit took place in March and took the form of a 'health check' looking both at areas where we had identified where there was room for improvement and those areas where we excel. Our assessor came on site for a day and a half to meet with our staff and customers. We arranged a packed programme of discussions, tours and meetings for the assessor, including focus groups with users of York Minster Library and telephone interviews with some of our archives depositors and users. We also took the opportunity to showcase some of our best practice projects and ongoing work.

Highlights of the work we presented are:
  • A full review of our feedback routes and complaint handling processes. We have refreshed our complaints policy and created a series of new user friendly complaints pages to explain what to do when things have gone wrong. We are also following up individually when people have complained to check that they are happy with how we handled things:
  • Ensuring that we are measuring and reporting against our agreed service standards:
  • Sharing the results of some work we had been doing on understanding whether our users felt they were fairly treated.
  • Explaining how we are working to track more of our customer interactions through building a Customer Relationship Management database to track our interactions with academic departments, and through the introduction of enquiry logging in the Borthwick.
  • Outlining the creation of the White Rose Libraries office based here in York as a case study of our working in partnership with others:
  • Sharing the details of our reviews and improvements to the start of session experience for users across both the Library and IT Services.
  • Presenting information about negotiations we've undertaken with suppliers to ensure we can offer improvements to functionality, value for money and the user experience of software.

We are happy to report that our assessor was impressed with the range of work we had completed and commented that the Directorate continued to display a "culture of customer service and continual improvement". This continued success is something that we celebrate and is a strong reflection of the hard work of all our staff.

Three of the four areas previously rated as being of partial compliance will now be rated as fully compliant with the standard. In addition, two further areas will now be rated as being Compliance Plus (areas of best practice), these are:
  • We have made the consultation of customers integral to continually improving our service and we advise customers of the results and action taken.
  • Our staff are polite and friendly to customers and have an understanding of customer needs.
Looking ahead we are keen to keep up the good work and look forward to more CSE assessment visits in the years to come. We are already starting to think about our revalidation for spring 2016 and planning for our full re-assessment which will take place in 2017.

Further information

Customer Service Excellence is a government backed industry standard that assesses (against 57 different criteria) whether services are efficient, effective, excellent, equitable and empowering – with the users always and everywhere at the heart of service provision.

If you're interested in learning more about Customer Service Excellence we'd be happy to share our experiences. Please contact Jackie Knowles, Head of Customer Services.

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