Wokingham Borough Residents Services – Pauline Jorgensen – Executive Member and Wokingham Borough Councillor for Hillside in Earley
As the lowest funded unitary authority in the country Wokingham Borough has to be very careful with our residents money but we are also passionate about providing good and continuously improving customer service. These two aims are not contradictory, in many cases poor customer service leads to wasted effort and additional cost in dealing with queries and complaints. My view is that the most efficient way to deal with residents issues is to make reporting problems online as easy as possible, to streamline processes and systems and to introduce elements of self service, this is what we are striving to do. I also recognise that with the variety of local residents we can’t force all queries down the online route and we must continue to provide choice of methods of access to serve people who are not able to use online methods.
As part of our drive to improve customer service I also feel it is important to get some customer service staff out from behind their desks and into the local towns so that they can talk face to face with local residents and hear their views and frustrations and deal with their problems first hand. My experience, from my job in the commercial world, is that this sharpens up their response as they hear first hand the frustration when things are not handled properly together with the praise for a job well done. To this end we are holding town centre stalls in the local population centres. The first was held recently in Wokingham and got a really good response from the public and we will hold another in Earley on the 1st August and are planning another in Woodley. The event in Wokingham generated more than 40 queries to follow up on and also some good suggestions as to how we can improve further. Some of our services and people were also singled out for praise by residents which always makes you feel good.
We are also driving to improve our website learning from good practice in other areas such as the Government internet portal, we are gradually linking up our service request systems up to our suppliers to reduce the opportunity for queries to get lost and also the effort involved in passing them on. We have a long way to go to meet the standards of commercial customer service websites but we are on the way.
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