Sunday, 4 January 2015

Clarence Valley Council draft customer service policy

Clarence Valley Council has released its Draft Customer Service Policy and invites comment until 30 January 2015.

Local residents and ratepayers who have frequent contact with the third tier of government should read this document for the comic relief.

In part it states that Council commits to:

Formally recognising that our customers are our first priority and nothing is more important than keeping our customers informed and providing accurate and timely responses to customer requests for information or services.
Developing a customer first culture throughout the organisation by providing staff with the tools they need to deliver excellent customer service including training and education and access to the appropriate systems, processes and technologies.
Ensuring equitable access to council services and information for all customers regardless of disability, ethnicity, language or age.
Regularly reviewing and updating the portals used for customer contact by seeking customer feedback on preferred contact methods, staying abreast of technological advancements, reviewing internal processes and procedures as necessary.
Developing measurable service standards for customer contact to guide officers in their dealings with customers, to provide certainty for customers on when they can expect their requests to be responded to and to ensure that standards are consistently being met.
Upholding the provisions of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009,and the National Privacy Act, including maintaining confidentiality for customers in all matters in strict accordance with those statutes.
Promoting mutually respectful and courteous interactions between customers and Council staff by applying Council’s Code of Conduct to the actions of staff and by protecting, supporting and equipping our staff to manage customers who display an unacceptable level of rudeness, profane language or aggression towards them.
Prompt and efficient services.
 Easy access to our services.
Friendly, professional service.
Accurate and consistent information.

In return Council asks that residents and ratepayers:

Treat our staff in a polite and respectful manner;
Be honest and accurate in your dealings with Council;
Work with us to solve problems;
Give us feedback on the things we do;
Respect community property.

Now this is a good policy and many ordinary members of staff and their 'customers' already interact well and within these guidelines.

However, Clarence Valley Council's executive and senior management have forgotten one basic truism - a fish rots from the head down and local government has been on the nose for years.

I suspect that for them, this policy will only come into play when office politics become heated and vindictive.

So, all those journalists who have been shouted at by senior level management, all the ratepayers that have had to fight to get any sort of written answer to their concerns, all the objectors to a development or rezoning application who were supplied with unconscionably late, incomplete, inaccurate or downright misleading information, as well as those that have joined the ranks of what appears to be a veritable multitude down the years who have been threatened with defamation for daring to raise issues – guffaw loudly in chorus now.

You’ll shake the eaves!

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