Councillor Duffin introduced
the report and stated that the new strategy would not exclude those
who wished to continue using non-digital channels, but would make
systems as easy as possible for all residents and improve the level
of support residents received. He explained that the strategy
provided a long-term outlook and would help implement ideas such as
introducing a portal whereby residents could see the status of
their enquiry, which could help improve the Council’s
efficiency and visibility to residents. Councillor Duffin
highlighted the Local Full Fibre Network phase 2, which had been
funded through central government and would help improve
connectivity within the borough. He also highlighted that 89% of
Freedom of Information requests had been processed within 20 days,
which was above the Council’s target. He stated that although
this was above the target set, the team were working to reach 100%.
He added that 98,000 Thurrock residents were subscribed to the
Council’s e-newsletter, with 65% of these opening the
Councillor Redsell asked if the contact centre could be given more up-to-date information, particularly regarding housing issues, as some information was out of date and therefore not useful to residents. Councillor Duffin stated that he would take this feedback away and liaise with the contact centre. The Leader felt pleased to see that residents would be able to track their enquiries and looked forward to seeing this project progressing. Councillor Duffin agreed and felt this would help improve transparency and would utilise technology to improve resident’s experiences when dealing with the Council. Councillor Maney felt concerned that the increased use of digital portals would mean that residents received procedural responses, rather than detailed responses from officers regarding their enquiry. Councillor Duffin explained that the new strategy would help to streamline processes. He added that a reviewing system could also be added so that when an enquiry was completed the resident could provide a star-rating or qualitative feedback on their experience. He felt that this could provide tangible data that officers could analyse to see which areas needed more work, or which areas were doing well and could provide learning. Councillor Spillman felt that qualitative responses at the end of the enquiry process was a good idea and would allow for more detailed feedback. He felt that this would be useful with vulnerable residents to understand more about their lived experiences. Councillor Duffin explained that every service user could be offered a star-rating review system at the end of their enquiry, and then those services with lower star ratings could be offered qualitative feedback systems.
The Leader felt that this strategy would help improve services at the Council and work towards a culture and behaviour transformation. He stated that the Council had lots of learning to undertake. Councillor Duffin highlighted that the report had gone to the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee who had raised concerns regarding the exclusion of people without access to digital channels, but had agreed the recommendations.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Agreed the Digital and Customer Experience Strategy at Appendix 1.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in