Putting the Customer First
In April 2004 Sligo County Council introduced a Customer Services facility at its Riverside offices. The new facility provides a first point of contact for telephone callers and visitors to County Hall, and enables the Council to provide an informed and prompt customer response. The service was officially ‘launched’ by the Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Mr Noel Ahern, TD. Director of Services Tim Caffrey sees its introduction as a ‘pivotal development in Sligo County Council’s ongoing objective to provide a quality customer service. This is a major undertaking by the Council. We provide well in excess of 400 identifiable services, and we are determined to ensure that these services are delivered promptly and efficiently. We envisage that this facility will be the focal point of our effort to improve and streamline our services to the general public. ’Mr Caffrey places the introduction of the desk in the context of a development of a ‘Customer Service ethos’ in the Council. ‘We introduced extended office hours over a year ago, provide many application forms and guidelines on-line, and have opened a One Stop Facility in Tubbercurry to serve our customers in South Sligo.’ Sligo County Council expects its services to be evaluated to the highest standards, and the delivery of the Customer Service facility will enable it to provide an optimum service to the people of County Sligo.
In preparing for the introduction of the Customer Service facility, Sligo County Council commissioned an independent survey, entailing interviews with 500 householders throughout the county. The results of the survey, conducted by TSN/MRBI, provided valuable information in guiding the design and operation of the Customer Service Desk. One of the most interesting results of the survey was the high rate of usage of the main Council services, with 98% of those surveyed claiming to have availed of Planning, Roads or Motor Tax services. While 61% of these contacts involved visits to one of the Council’s offices, the increasing availability of Council services on-line will see a reduction in this figure over the coming years.
In tandem with the introduction of the Customer Service Desk, the Council has introduced a new communications tracking system called e-Direct. The new system is designed to ensure that correspondence is acknowledged and dealt with as quickly as possible.