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Corporate service standards

Our corporate service standards cover quality in service provision relating to customer contact.

General standards

  • Staff will show courtesy, respect and sensitivity at all times.
  • We will answer questions as fully and helpfully as possible.
  • Customer advisors will solve as many queries as possible at the first point of contact, where this is not possible they will act as an advocate on behalf of the customer in order to see the query through to a satisfactory conclusion.
  • If a member of staff is unable to provide a full and accurate response they (or a colleague) will call back or write with the appropriate information at the earliest opportunity.
  • Upon request we will facilitate the use of loop systems or minicom and shall communicate in languages and form other than English.
  • Wherever feasible our facilities are made accessible for all members of the community.  
  • Customers can make an appointment to see a manager or speak to staff in confidence.  

Writing

  • We will treat letters and emails in the same way
  • We will respond to all letters and emails that need a response within 10 working days of receiving them. If we can't do this, we will contact the author with a holding response.
  • The holding response will state the reason a full response cannot be provided within 10 days and will provide a target date for a full response.  
  • In the unlikely event this target date cannot be met another letter will be sent from the appropriate executive manager explaining the reason for the delay and proposing another target date.  
  • Customers can expect all written information they receive from the Council to be easy to understand and written in plain English.
  • Officers may telephone someone who has written a letter in order to establish more details and/or provide a more thorough response. In such circumstances the telephone call will only be followed by a written response IF the person making the enquiry explicitly requests one OR to do so would avoid any misinterpretation of the authority's position.  

Application forms  

There is no corporate target for responding to application forms. Different types of application form all have their own target (eg Development Control, Building Control, Council Tax, Housing Benefits, Council house waiting list, etc), and standards can differ between the different categories of form (e.g. the standard for "major" planning applications is different from that for "minor" planning applications).  

Telephones

  • We aim to answer all external and internal phone calls within ten seconds.
  • All telephone callers to the Council will receive a standard response, consisting of a greeting (e.g. good morning/good afternoon), the section name (or "West Lancashire Borough Council!") and the name of the person answering the phone.
  • If we need to transfer a caller through to another member of staff we will tell the caller who they are being transferred to and provide details of the customer and their enquiry to the person taking the call.
  • Calls through our contact centre are put into a queue. During busy periods customers will be given several opportunities to leave a message for a member of staff to call back the same day. 
  • It doesn't matter if someone telephones a direct dial number or the call centre, if a customer is unable to speak to the person they need, we will give them the opportunity to leave a message and they will be called back before noon of the next working day.  

Home visits: appointments

  • If we need to visit a customer we will always try to arrange a convenient appointment.
  • If we cannot keep an appointment we will notify the customer as soon as possible.  
  • Staff will always carry their official identification.
  • If we cannot answer a question we will explain why, and say when a response can be expected and who will provide it; or tell you where you can go for more help.  

Visiting our offices

  • All front-line staff will wear clear ID badges in a place where it is easy for customers to read.
  • Anybody waiting for an advisor at a Customer Service Point should be seen within 3 minutes.
  • Anybody waiting for a particular member of staff at a Customer Service Point should be seen within 5 minutes (or at the pre agreed time). If the relevant member of staff is not available or is busy seeing other customers the receptionist will let you know how long you are likely to wait. If customers do not have the time to wait, we can make an appointment.  
  • It is necessary to have a queuing system for certain services. We will not keep customers waiting any longer than we have to.

Website

For anyone with an internet connection, our website can be the quickest and most convenient way to access services, pay bills and find information.

The council's website www.westlancs.gov.uk offers the opportunity for customers to access Council services online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without needing to pick up the phone, make a visit or write a letter. Our aim is that you can access the full range of our services through our website.

Customers can request services, pay bills, fill in forms, give views, download documents and find information about the services the Council provides, and the West Lancashire area.  

We are constantly updating and improving the website and welcome any comments to help us improve the content or keep it up to date.

Emergencies

If you have an emergency outside our general opening times telephone our Customer Contact Centre 01695 577177. This number should also be used for any emergencies relating to council houses

An emergency response will be provided in certain situations. If you are a council tenant, your repairs handbook provides details of the sort of repair that will come under this category.  

Complaints  

We always try to get things right but there will be occasions when customers will have cause for complaint. Such complaints can serve to highlight areas where services could be improved. For details of our complaints procedure please see the Comments and Feedback section.  

Equality

All service users and staff must be treated equally irrespective of their age, disability, gender, ethnic origin or nationality, sexual orientation, domestic circumstances, marital status, political or religious belief or as a result of gender reassignment.

Customer care objectives  

Visit the customer care objectives page for full details.  

Customer responsibilities

Unreasonable and threatening behaviour is a barrier to the Council delivering excellent services to you and to other customers. We expect our staff to provide excellent service and in return we expect customers to show courtesy in all written, personal and telephone contact with staff:

  • Please be polite when talking or writing to our staff.
  • Foul and abusive language or any other aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated. It's unfair to staff and to other customers. We may refuse to serve you if the behaviour continues.
  • Please attend appointments on time. This helps us to keep appointments with other customers.
  • Please be patient. There are times when we are very busy. We do what we can to keep waiting times to a minimum.  

Please consider if there are reasonable grounds for your requests for service or any complaints. Contact intended solely to harass or made to embarrass, annoy or place an unreasonable burden on the Council will be considered as vexatious. Contact lacking in substance or any clear merit will be considered frivolous.  

If a request or complaint is clearly frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith, the Council will be justified in choosing not to respond. Such a course of action will only be taken with the agreement of the appropriate Head of Service.  As a matter of courtesy, notice will be given to the complainant of the Council's intention not to respond to further requests or complaints unless new issues are raised or new information is provided on the matter.  

Anyone who is abusive, aggressive, violent or threatening violence may be added to our 'Client Risk Register' and could be excluded from visiting Council offices, denied home visits and reported to the Police.  

If you are happy with the service we provide

Please tell us if you are happy with our services. We want to know what we do well so that we can share good practice across the council. See the Comments and Feedback section for details.