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Brantford Council to implement new customer service strategy 

City of BrantfordBrantford Council to implement new customer service strategy 

City council unanimously voted to adopt a new customer service strategy and has directed City staff to develop a detailed implementation process during a Committee of the Whole, Planning and Administration meeting, held on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

The new strategy looks to replace the “Customer One” strategy that was put in place in 2013 as the City has implemented most of its objectives and are looking forward to continuing to improve and evolve customer service (both digitally and in person) in the coming years.

“It’s clear now that we need to evolve customer service delivery to align with the growing needs and expectations of both present and future Branford residents,” said Maria Visocchi, the City’s Director of Communications, Community engagement and Customer Service.

The Customer Service Centre currently has four full time employees and four part-time employees, though keeping the part-time staff has proven difficult. Several councillors noted that it was important for the City to prioritize customer service workers and to help incentivize those hired to stay working in the position and discussed turning the four part-time roles into two full-time roles.

Blackline Consulting presented a report to City Councillors after completing an efficiency audit of Brantford’s customer service process. The City hired the consulting firm after receiving a $120,000 provincial grant awarded in June of 2022.

Blackline’s report noted that 60 per cent of Brantford residents are overall satisfied with the quality of customer service, knowledge and helpfulness of staff, though residents did find it difficult to reach the proper contact regarding their issue and are often passed back and forth between departments.

Ian Shelley, Managing Partner at Blackline Consulting, noted that 34 per cent of residents said that they were dissatisfied, but indicated that the number reflects more of the outcome of resident issues and not with the customer service experience itself.

The new approach will focus on streamlining and improving communication channels while providing training to staff and creating more permanent positions to ensure a consistent level of service.

The City currently has over 70 emails and 30 phone numbers listed for different departments, as well as six Facebook sites to contact and access services. With so many contact options, it can be difficult for Brantford residents to find the right department to speak to as well as to keep track of requests.

Blackline’s report states that while the City has a customer service policy, the time to acknowledge and progress customer requests in other city departments is anything from eight to 72 hours and some residents mentioned that they don’t hear anything back one a request has been submitted.

Recommendations from Blackline will set the City on a three-year path to implementing Brantford 311 and a resident portal so that all customer service staff can report to one location and have the same knowledge, tools and follow the same procedures.

“The integration around systems isn’t there today but we think we have steps in place that allow you (the City) to progress towards that so in a number of years’ time you’ll be looking at the opportunity to implement the 311 concept where it’s ‘I know exactly where I can go and it’s a place I need to go to, it’s easy accessible and I got everything I need from that point of contact,’” said Shelley.

The report also recommended a City staff person to work as the point of contact for Councillors to help sort through requests from residents.

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