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MARCH 2002

This document has been prepared by the Customer Services Development Group which is made up of managers of front-line staff from all local authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Members of the Group have collaborated to design a protocol which is seen as a first step towards the development of matching customer service standards across the area.

Members of the Group emphasize that the protocol sets aspirational aims. Next steps will include sharing ideas for implementing the standards and agreeing our actions in line with improvement plans highlighted by Best Value reviews and central government initiatives.

Councils that approve and sign this protocol will be declaring a firm commitment to work with partner organisations in order to offer high, yet achievable standards.

NB. A "Customer Access Point" may be any public reception where services can be accessed, or information about services is readily available. For example, the reception may be known as Customer Service Centre, Information Centre, Local Information Point or similar but all accredited points will clearly show a common logo to depict membership of HIOWLA’s quality network.

1 Statement of Partnership

THIS PROTOCOL records the agreement to act in partnership to provide and support a network of staffed Customer Access Points to ensure that people who live in, work in or visit Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have access to public services and as much information as they need about them, in locations that are convenient to them.

It shall be open to further local authorities and public sector/health organisations to sign this protocol in the future.

2 Aims of Customer Access Points

(a) To improve accessibility to public services and to act as a focus for public service in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

(b) To provide a point of contact for people who want to know about or obtain access to any local government or other service in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and neighbouring areas irrespective of which organisation is responsible for it

(c) To display and disseminate information about the signatory partners and the services they provide

(d) To demonstrate genuine partnership and shared commitment to public service

(e) To provide appropriate contact with the required service and to record enquiries

(f) To provide statistical information and agree performance indicators to ensure continuous improvement

3 Partners

A typical Customer Access Point will operate as follows:

(a) For each site there will be a "host" partner responsible for the management and the maintenance there of the standards set out in this Protocol. The host partner will provide accommodation to meet the specification at 4 along with:

· employment and management of staff including training on recruitment and training/ learning opportunities throughout their employment to do their jobs effectively (e.g. IT, Customer Service, CertHE in Public Services Information Management)
signing, display facilities and telecommunications links
marketing of the service
management of the service
up to date information to the Customer Access Point about the host authority’s own services and organisational responsibilities.

(b) For each Customer Access Point there will be "participating partners" which support the site and whose services may be contacted through it. Participating partners will:

· monitor the effectiveness of the service and assess satisfaction through customer consultation / user surveys
supply and update information about public services and organisational responsibilities
supply and update directories, leaflets and other publications in quantities required by the Customer Access Point, and advice on when publications are to be disposed of
offer exhibitions and display space (if available)
provide service-based training
respond to enquiries forwarded by the Customer Access Point
encourage / organise networking events and opportunities.

(c) At each Customer Access Point an approved logo will be prominently displayed, together with the logo of the host and participating partners as appropriate. The partnership between them will be referred to on Customer Access Point stationery.

4 Specification

Designated Customer Access Points will meet the following minimum specification. They will

· be located where they are easily accessible to the public including people with mobility impairment
have opening hours which reflect demand and which are visible outside the premises
bear prominent displays of the common and other logos and Customer Service standards (see 5)
have trained staff, sufficient to handle workload, who:
- help customers to express their needs
- are able to answer enquiries about the host and participants and their services which do not require handling by specialist staff
- know how to contact specialist staff
- pass on problems, complaints, defect reports or enquiries to appropriate specialist staff
- monitor enquiries until direct contact between the enquirer and appropriate service provider is established
- help customers requiring other agencies by directing them to appropriate contacts in public, voluntary or private sectors
- are committed to the standards and unity of purpose of Hampshire and Isle of Wight’s Customer Access Points network.
be equipped with appropriate computer, telephone and fax links
have facilities for discussing confidential matters
display and disseminate information
provide copies of information in a range of formats, on request or which reflect local demand.

5 Standards

(a) Participants will commit themselves to the following minimum standards, a copy of which will be displayed at each Customer Access Point:

· We will make every endeavour to answer your specific enquiry or will direct you to an appropriate contact
We AIM to respond
- to personal visits immediately, or in busy periods, within 5 minutes
- to written enquiries within 5 working days of receiving your letter, fax or e-mail or give you an explanation for any delay and an indication of when you may hear from us
- to telephone calls within 15 seconds (5 rings)
We recognise that people have different and individual needs
We are keen to accept your comments, suggestions or complements
We recognise that things can go wrong and have procedures to deal with complaints
We will do our best to ensure that any information we give you is accurate and up to date
We will treat you with respect and courtesy
We will not discriminate against any group or individual
We will wear name badges or give you a contact name on request

6 Monitoring and Review

The signatory partners are committed to the development and continuous improvement of the service provided by the Customer Access Points Network. Review and Evaluation of the overall service will come under the auspices of the Customer Service Development Group.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council
East Hampshire District Council
Eastleigh Borough Council
Fareham Borough Council
Gosport Borough Council
Hampshire County Council
Hart District Council
Havant Borough Council

Isle of Wight Council
New Forest District Council
Portsmouth City Council
Rushmoor Borough Council
Southampton City Council
Test Valley Borough Council
Winchester City Council


Aims and Standards of Service for
Customer Access Points

I agree with the principles of working in partnership
as laid out in the Protocol
drawn up by HIOWLA’s Customer Service Development Group
and aspire to meet them by the end of 2003

Signed: ___________________________________
             Chief Executive

Council: ___________________________________

Date: ___________________________________


Last update: 04/03/2002
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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