Members gave consideration to a report presented by the Customer Experience Officer, seeking to inform Members updates made to the Customer Feedback Policy (previously Customer Experience Policy) and to gain their agreement prior to it being implemented and published online.
It was explained that the policy had been renamed the Customer Feedback Policy in order to avoid any confusion with the new ‘in progress’ Customer Experience Strategy. Background was provided to Members, detailing that in 2017 the West Lindsey District Council complaints process was reviewed and refreshed and the new Customer Experience Policy Complaints Process was implemented on 1 January 2018. Learning had taken place since the policy was implemented and feedback from various sources had been received, all of which had been taken into account when the new Customer Feedback Policy was written. The new policy had also been examined by a member of the Disability Network. Their comments were taken into account and necessary amendments were made.
Members heard that these updates had been carried out because the Customer Experience Officer and Team Managers were keen to introduce a more stringent list of complaints that would be considered ‘out of scope’. This stemmed from the Council having to accept complaints relating to issues that were at least 20 years old, leading to Officers having to spend hours/weeks of time investigating them in order to respond, when in reality, and in line with other authorities and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, it was not in the public interest to do so.
In addition to this, feedback received via legal services suggested that a review and updates were required in order to make it clear what action would be taken against difficult customers, including the fact that an injunction may be sought in some extreme cases and that the Council reserved the right to involve the police if appropriate. Work had also taken place to ensure that it was in line with the current difficult and complex customer policy. The Customer Feedback Policy would link to the new ‘in progress’ Customer Experience Strategy once it was finalised later in 2022.
The Chairman thanked the Officer and highlighted the positive changes that had been made since the Customer Experience Policy came into effect. There was widespread support for the detail within the report, the layout and ease of reference to the amendments as well as all round thanks for the work undertaken in relation to the customer experience.
Following a question from a Member of the Committee regarding possible challenge to the policy, quoting an example of an individual complaining to an organisation about the complaints policy, it was confirmed that the intention was not to block complaints, rather to manage expectations of what would be dealt with.
Having been moved and seconded, it was, with majority vote,
a) the amendments and additions made to the Customer Feedback Policy (previously Customer Experience Policy), be welcomed; and
b) the amendments and additions be approved prior to it being implemented and published online.