Since 1998 West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has consistently attained the Charter Mark standard. ‘Customer Service Excellence’ which replaced this was launched in 2008.
The Standard contains new concepts; the development of customer insight, based on an in-depth understanding of our customers. In addition to this there is emphasis on key drivers of satisfaction and measurement of these, with particular focus on priority areas for customers on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude.
The Standard is a useful tool in helping to assist public service organisations, to develop and bring about customer focused change; acts as a driver of continuous improvement, a skills development tool and as an independent validation of achievement.
In August 2009 the Authority underwent a full 2 day assessment against the new Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard and successfully achieved this award. Assessments take place on an annual basis and, in 2018 WYFRS was again successful in retaining the award, gaining particular recognition in the following:
- We have an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of our current and potential customer groups based on recent and reliable information.
- We have developed customer insight about our customer groups to better understand their needs and preferences.
- We have made particular efforts to identify hard to reach and disadvantaged groups and individuals and developed our services in response to their specific needs.
- We have made the consultation of customers integral to continually improving our service and we advise customers of the results and action taken.
- We protect customers’ privacy both in face-to-face discussions and in the transfer and storage of customer information.
- We empower and encourage all employees to actively promote and participate in the customer focused culture or our organisation.
- We value the contribution staff make to delivering customer focused services and leaders, managers and staff demonstrate these behaviours.
- We make information about the full range of services we provide available to our customers and potential customers, including how and when people can contact us, how our services are run and who is in charge.
- We take reasonable steps to make sure our customers have received and understood the information we provide.
- We have improved the ranged, content and quality of verbal, published and web based information we provide to ensure it is relevant and meets the needs of customers.
- We evaluate how customers interact with the organisation through access channels and we use this information to identify possible service improvements, and other better choices.
- We have made arrangements with other providers and partners to offer and supply co-ordinated services, and these arrangements have demonstrable benefits for our customers.
- We have developed co-ordinated working arrangements with our partners that ensure customers have clear lines of accountability for quality of service.
- We interact within wider communities and we can demonstrate the ways in which we support those communities.
- We develop and learn from best practice identified within and outside our organisation and publish our examples externally where appropriate.
- We learn from any mistakes we make by identifying patterns in formal and informal complaints and comments from customers and use this information to improve services and publicise action taken.
- We respond to initial enquiries promptly, if there is a delay we advise the customer and take action to rectify the problem.
This is an excellent accomplishment recognised and reflected in the Auditors comments:
‘The Service is a long standing applicant and continues to endorse CSE as a key driver for service improvement and a customer focused approach. This year’s application was well prepared with a great proportion of new presented evidence to support the assessment visit.
WYFRS continues to be recognised nationally as a centre of excellence where an innovative and forward thinking approach to the improvement of services, and the safety of its staff and customers, is at its core.
Great emphasis is placed on consultation and feedback to inform the development of services. Staff make outstanding efforts to identify and support the most vulnerable groups within its local communities by means of Safe and Well visits and Youth Interventions programmes, and the Service works hard to be an inclusive, progressive organisation. Both customers and partners paid testament to the quality of the service they had received and to the caring attitude of staff.
The 15 existing Compliance Plus elements have been retained, with additional Compliance Plus being achieved at elements 2.1.6 and 4.2.4‘.