Chapter 12: Conclusion and Recommendations
179. It is clear that COPFS is committed to meeting the information needs of customers both through the statement to do so in the Strategic Plan 2012-2015 and the provision of services at the Enquiry Point. This will be further improved with the establishment of a Customer Care Unit in March 2013 which will help enhance customer focus.
180. We note that there are some areas that would benefit from some strengthening to ensure effectiveness as described below.
181. The telephony system used by the Enquiry Point is adequate for needs however there are some issues highlighted in the report that impact on business performance which are outwith the direct control of the Enquiry Point, for example, slowness, maintenance or crashing of COPFS systems thus limiting access to information and slow updating of case progress.
182. It is highlighted that small changes such as ensuring the number to call from mobile phones is detailed on standard letters; updating scripts; up to date contact lists30 and consideration of separate number for partner agencies to call would increase customer satisfaction.
183. We make reference in the report to standards that can be referred to that provide advice and guidance on how to deliver an efficient and effective contact centre service.
184. There is a willingness in the Enquiry Point to continually improve services and increase service delivery through involvement in new projects and collection of feedback for analysis in testing new concepts.
185. We highlight specific issues relating to staffing that affect performance such as high turnover, training and lack of communication however we note that management are making attempts to resolve such issues such as filling vacant posts, monitoring day to day delivery and plans to communicate more frequently.
186. The ongoing cost of the Enquiry Point has never been identified due to the split of expenditure between three budgets.
187. It is noted that although there are contingency plans in place in the event of loss of service there is a need to test some of these plans and there is no formal register of risks or counter measures.
188. We consider there to be good accessibility measures in place for people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.
189. Performance is measured in various formats and information can be made available to COPFS senior management on request.
190. Monitoring highlighted a drop in performance in the second half of 2012 which can be attributed to loss of staff. New staff have since been recruited.
191. A comparison against industry standards shows that the Enquiry Point performs well in some areas such as call duration but less well in other areas such as waiting time and abandoned calls. It is noted that the Enquiry Point's own target for abandoned calls was not met in 2012. Again lack of staff has been a factor in this.
192. We note that the formal COPFS system for recording feedback (including complaints, compliments, comments and suggestions) did not easily identify those relating to the Enquiry Point and that there is an awareness in the Enquiry Point that not all feedback is formally recorded. In addition there appears to be no response to 4 from 12 complaints registered.
193. It is important to communicate with stakeholders to obtain their views when providing a service. We consider that the Enquiry Point could do more in this respect especially with criminal justice partners.
194. Overall customer satisfaction shown in both Enquiry Point's exercise and our own feedback survey was positive with comments such as 'polite and friendly' staff and a 'valued quality' service. However there was some dissatisfaction noted which requires to be addressed such as transfer of calls with vague, little or no information; time hanging on the line or to answer calls; unhappiness at the way they were spoken to; lack of consistency in what can and cannot be intimated.
195. The following recommendations have been made:
It is recommended that good practice standards for Government Contact Centres are looked at with a view to incorporating those that would be useful/beneficial to the COPFS Enquiry Point especially now that the Enquiry Point will become part of the newly established Customer Care Unit.
It is recommended that all standard letters include the Enquiry Point telephone number to call from mobile phones.
It is recommended that a reminder is issued to Procurator Fiscal offices to ensure that their contact lists are kept up to date.
It is recommended that scripts used in the Enquiry Point are reviewed and updated where there has been a change in practice.
It is recommended that the Enquiry Point Training Pack is reviewed and updated to include all new practices and guides.
It is recommended that consideration is given to allowing additional training time to allow Enquiry Point staff to become fully versed in all aspects of COPFS practice.
It is recommended that training on how to deal with emotional customers is identified and included in the Enquiry Point training programme.
It is recommended that in accordance with COPFS policy efforts are made to carry out team briefings at least monthly.
It is recommended that management under the new Customer Care Unit identify and monitor all costs relating to the Enquiry Point in order to realise the true cost of running the Enquiry Point.
It is recommended that the Enquiry Point formally identifies and records all risks which may impact on the delivery of services. These risks should be prioritised and controls or counter measures identified to limit or help prevent negative outcomes.
It is also recommended that actions already identified in the Enquiry Point business continuity plan be followed up and tested.
It is recommended that management introduce some form of measurement of whether calls are completely resolved at first contact.
It is recommended that a category for the Enquiry Point is added to the 'Respond' system and that notification of all customer feedback received (whether a complaint, compliment, suggestion or comment) is formally recorded and that responses are issued and also recorded in the system.
It is recommended that the Enquiry Point continue to seek criminal justice partner views in relation to services provided by the Enquiry Point and to identify whether there is scope to provide a separate telephone number for them given that a large proportion of their calls require to be transferred to the relevant legal member of staff.
It is recommended that Enquiry Point Managers address issues highlighted in feedback and not covered elsewhere in this report such as background noise, handing out direct dial numbers, transferring calls with no introduction and lack of consistency in what can and cannot be intimated.