In November 2020, KPMG delivered a report to Council outlining what residents thought of the services provided by the Town. Then in October 2022, with Provincial funding, the Town hired Customer Service Professionals Network (CSPN) to take it further and create a “Customer Service Strategy & Implementation Plan”. They started with another public survey. KPMG’s survey had managed to get 307 responses and CSPN’s got 110. (Another one by the Town got 219, in all cases, not many!). CSPN also surveyed employees, councillors and four public focus-groups. At the Committee of the whole meeting on Monday (15 May, 2023), Shawn Ashley of CSPN presented their report to Council and provided a summary. The report is in Resources below. A copy of Shawn’s presentation was not made available although I managed to copy most of it with screen grabs.
Two documents were provided and are available in Resources below:
- A 10 page staff memo outlining the project
- A 135 page Final report from CSPN
Let me try to summarize.
Staff Memo Highlights
- The Town currently does not have a dedicated customer service function (responsibility is currently assigned to Legislative Services) or a formal customer service policy.
- In the Town’s online survey, 44% said they preferred communication by email and 29% preferred telephone contact.
- Only 42% were satisfied with their experience [but then it was a small sample and maybe it was mostly the dissatisfied who bothered to take the online survey?]
- CSPN were asked to “Identify opportunities for increased effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery”; and “Evaluate and develop a customer service strategy with a corresponding implementation plan including targets, timelines, and milestones.”
- Modernizing and improving customer service will increase resident satisfaction and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in its local government.
- CSPN identified 25 recommendations.
- The next steps in the process will be for Council to receive the CSPN report and direct staff to review the recommendations and report back with proposals on implementation.
CSPN Report Highlights
These are a summary of Shawn’s summary which is itself a summary.
Goals of Project
- Support the organization in delivering the best possible service to meet or exceed customer expectations.
- Uncover pragmatic opportunities to increase efficiencies and streamline how services are delivered to reduce operating costs and resource requirements.
- Provide a phased roadmap to support the organization with the knowledge and structure to effectively implement recommended initiatives.
- Review existing Cobourg Documents for Data and Insights
Approximately 10 documents were reviewed that covered topics including previous service reviews, strategic plans, and pulse surveys.
- Employee Stakeholder Interviews
Virtual one hour interviews and group workshops: 36 internal stakeholders, Councillors, Senior Managers, Managers, and Front-line staff.
- Employee Survey – 59 employees participated in a Digital survey
- Customer Survey – 110 citizens participated. The CSPN Survey questions were listed in this report on December 9.
- Customer Focus Groups. Four 60 minute virtual focus groups: Business, Tourist, Developer and Residents.
- Customer Service Policy – Validate to customers that the Town is committed to providing the best possible customer service to residents, partners and residents
- Centralized Customer Service Desk – Located in Victoria Hall – possible in the lobby. Not meant to replace existing frontline service reps and service desks. Goal is to better manage the volumes of customer interactions into a single point of contact and to better track service delivery data, metrics and KPIs.
- Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) – customer database and management tool. Will provide linkage to all staff dealing with any issue.
- Customer Service Training Plan – help employees develop a customer-centric culture.
The report divides actions into Short term (1-3 years), Medium Term (3-5 years) and Long Term (5+ years). Basically, short term would be developing policies and creating the service desk. In Year 3, one key action would be to “Remove Employee Contact Information from Public Facing Sources”. Medium term would see the deployment of the CRM and “Onboard Two Additional Customer Service Focused Resources”. Long Term would be a focus on metrics and would include “Relocate Teams that Interact with Customers to Free-Spaces in Victoria Hall.” See pages 76 through 84 of the full CSPN report for a lot more detail.
Cost Savings and Implementation Cost
CSPN provided estimates of Cost Savings and Implementation cost where possible. The total cost saving is estimated to range from $220K to $505K; the total Implementation cost is estimated to range from $129K to $225K.
The above summary is an overview and is a greatly simplified description of the plan – see the full plan in downloads in Resources below. I would note that the plan includes measures to address Employee concerns although these were not covered in much detail in Shawn Ashley’s presentation.
Councillors – especially the mayor – were enthusiastic about the benefits of implementing the plan.
CAO Tracey Vaughan said that staff were not waiting but were already working on some items to improve customer service and also that the staff implementation plan called for by CSPN will be provided in the Fall.
Mayor Cleveland commented that it would be best if this was in time for budget deliberations and that implementation in this term of council should be possible.
Cobourg blog reports
- Town of Cobourg Surveying Residents on Customer Service – 9 December 2022
- Service Levels Review Final Report – 16 Nov 2020
- CSPN Final Report 15 May 2023 – see page 39 for report on what residents thought of responses to their enquiries.
- Staff Memo: Customer Service Strategy and Implementation Plan – 15 May 2023
- Service Delivery Review Final Report (PDF, by KPMG) – November 2020 – see page 26 for chart showing what residents thought of Cobourg’s Services