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 2019, WYFRS was again successful in retaining the award, gaining particular recognition in the following:
- Having an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of our current and potential customer groups based on recent and reliable information
- Having developed customer insight about our customer groups to better understand their needs and preferences
- Making particular efforts to identify hard to reach and disadvantaged groups and individuals and developing our services in response to their specific needs
- Making the consultation of customers integral to continually improving our service and advising customers of the results and action taken
- Protecting customers’ privacy both in face-to-face discussions and in the transfer and storage of customer information
- Empowering and encouraging all employees to actively promote and participate in the customer focused culture of our organisation
- Valuing the contribution our staff make to delivering customer focused services, and leaders, managers and staff demonstrate these behaviours
- Making 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
- Taking reasonable steps to make sure our customers have received and understood the information we provide
- Improving the range, content and quality of verbal, published and web based information we provide to ensure it is relevant and meets the needs of customers.
- Evaluating how customers interact with the organisation through access channels and using this information to identify possible service improvements and offer better choices
- Having made arrangements with other providers and partners to offer and supply co-ordinated services, and these arrangements have demonstrable benefits for our customers
- Developing co-ordinated working arrangements with our partners that ensure customers have clear lines of accountability for quality of service
- Interacting within wider communities and demonstrating the ways in which we support those communities
- Developing and learning from best practice identified within and outside our organisation, and publishing our examples externally where appropriate
- Learning 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
- Responding to initial enquiries promptly and if there is a delay advising the customer and taking action to rectify the problem.
This is an excellent accomplishment recognised and reflected in the Auditors comments:
‘It is clear that the Service has a customer centric approach that is evident at all levels of the organisation. Staff’s insight into their customers’ needs and preferences are fed into planning and service improvement procedures and the resultant actions and initiatives are exemplary. Both customers and partners paid testament to the quality of the service they had received and to the caring attitude of staff. 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.’
The 17 existing Compliance Plus elements have been retained, with three additional Compliance Plus being achieved at elements 1.2.1, 2.1.1 and 2.2.4.