Giving you the best possible service

Customer Care Standards

CUSTOMER CARE POLICY

Introduction

Our standards support our mission:

To help those over 50 living in Southend-on-Sea and surrounding areas to live                             healthier, happier, and more independent lives.

Who are are clients? Our services are provided across the borough of Southend-on-Sea and surrounding areas for those 50 years of age and older, their family and carers.

Who are our staff? Our staff are the people who work for the organisation whether full time, part time or on zero hour contracts.

Who are our volunteers? Our volunteers are the people that help and support us in a voluntary capacity no matter what they do.

Who are our suppliers? These are the people that supply Age Concern Southend-on-Sea CIO (ACSOS) a service be it delivering the post or supplying stationary.

Who are our stakeholders? Any person or group that has an interest in what we are doing.

For the purposes of this policy, clients, staff, volunteers, suppliers, and stakeholders will be referred to as our people.

This Customer Care Policy reflects our core values and applies to all of our people. These are general standards that apply to internal as well as external people and set out how we respect and respond to each other internally as well as in our external relationships.

Customer Service

ACSOS is committed to delivering excellent service.

We aim to provide high quality services in a flexible manner that consistently meets individual needs, situations, and expectations and, where chargeable, provide value for money.

This document sets out what this commitment means in practice, what our people can expect from us and what we expect from them. ACSOS provides services to a diverse range of people through a diverse internal population of workers and volunteers who work with a number of outside agencies. It is important that everyone receives the same high quality and appropriate response. We are committed to providing access to the people of Southend-on-sea and surrounding areas to our services and responding to them in the most appropriate way and format to meet individual needs.

All staff are responsible for and contribute to providing a customer focused professional service.

We aim to provide services in a professional and ethical manner.

See also our Equality & Diversity Policy.

Making it happen

With ACSOS’s commitment to its people we need to have a strategy to enable continuous improvement. To enable continuous improvement, we need to use feedback from our various contacts to make changes. This will be done by:

  • Making our standards available internally to all staff and volunteers
  • Publicising our standards to our clients, stakeholders, and suppliers to support implementation of our quality policy.
  • Providing all our people with ongoing opportunities to comment as part of measuring our success.
  • Monitoring our services to help meet new standards.
  • Training and supporting staff to understand their responsibilities and provide better quality service.
  • Referring to these standards in volunteer guidance.
  • Supporting staff as they seek to meet customer’s expectations.
  • Supporting staff in dealing with concerns effectively. See also our Complaints Policy.
  • Monitoring complaints to identify where we need to make improvements.
  • Monitoring feedback issues proactively to identify any opportunities for improvement.
  • Using our Appraisal and Supervision Policy to check internal service standards.

We are committed to our people

We wish to deliver what we say we will deliver. We want to ensure that nobody is turned away without assistance or appropriate explanation or signposting. We want our people to be dealt with in accordance with our values.

  • We want to be responsive.
  • We want to listen to our people.
  • We want to be fair.
  • We want to be caring.
  • We want to be positive.
  • We want to use our skills and experience to be effective.

We will always:

  • Be polite, friendly and patient.
  • Treat people with dignity, empathy and respect and never judge a person or their situation.
  • Focus on each person as an individual to really listen and hear what they are saying.
  • Comply with our confidentiality policy and ensure that we treat your information confidentially and seek your consent where necessary.
  • Ensure that we take responsibility for resolving or dealing with queries, or we refer them on to an appropriate colleague or organisation in a timely manner.
  • Provide flexible responsive support in line with customers wishes and needs.
  • Be open and honest and explain our actions and any charges involved.
  • Do everything possible to ensure people are never passed around, ensure people are either assisted or helped to find the place where they can be assisted.
  • Give as much information as possible and appropriate to help customers make informed choices.
  • Supply timely, accurate and relevant information keeping customers informed on progress and delays.
  • Ensure customers are given a clear understanding of what actions are to be undertaken and by whom.
  • Respect people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality and only collect information and data as needed and keep it at all times in accordance with our Confidentiality Policy.
  • Check out and respect people’s communication preferences and avoid jargon and “professional speak” in our communications.
  • Always follow up and follow through on our commitments.
  • Support and inform customers to ensure well met expectations.
  • Act positively, constructively, and quickly in relation to any customer concerns, comments, or complaints in accordance with our standards.
  • Act in accordance with best practice and the law, including safeguard

We would like all our customers to:

  • Understand that to fully benefit from our support and services we will require relevant information.
  • Keep any appointments that they have with us where possible, and inform us in a timely manner if they are unable to keep them.
  • Treat all our staff and volunteers fairly and with respect and not behave in a rude, abusive, or threatening manner. With regard to visitors to The Haven, if such behaviour is encountered and cannot be calmed down, staff will politely ask the visitor to leave. In the case of Club 50+ members, continued abusive behaviour could result in membership termination.
  • Give us their views and suggestions to help us improve our services.
  • Tell us if they feel they have not been treated fairly and hold us to account to respond in a constructive and timely manner.

Our Care Standards

Face to face – We will:

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Be welcoming, courteous and helpful at all times; listen to customers and respond to their needs.
  • Offer a range of meeting venues to meet customer’s needs.
  • Ensure that our buildings and services are accessible where possible
  • Explain our Confidentiality Policy.
  • Greet visitors/customers and introduce ourselves as appropriate.
  • Make sure our staff are identified by wearing or carrying identification cards.
  • Respect people’s homes.
  • Respect customers privacy, offering private areas for discussion if required.
  • Be clear at the end of a meeting who will be doing what.

Contact by telephone – We will:

  • Answer the phone within five rings.
  • If not answered within five rings the phone will be diverted to another phone or voicemail.
  • Have an answer phone available out of hours.
  • If the office closes in unforeseen circumstances or for business requirements such as training, a message will be left on the answer phone informing people of the changes.
  • Deal with enquiries at the first point of contact or pass to a names contact/team who will respond as soon as possible.
  • Ensure that customers have the name of the staff member dealing with the enquiry.
  • Ensure voicemail messages and diverts are up to date.

Contact in writing – We will:

  • Aim to respond to standard written enquiries within five working days of receipt, resolving the enquiry as appropriate.
  • If the issue is more complicated and likely to take longer to resolve, make contact and give an idea of how long this will take.
  • Ensure that within the response provided customers are given the name of the person dealing with the issue.
  • Use plain English in our letters.

Contact by email – We will:

  • Aim to respond to emails sent to general mailboxes within three working days.
  • All emails should at least receive an acknowledgement within three working days stating when a full reply will be made if it is not possible to deal with the enquiry immediately.
  • Always include an out of office message if away or unable to pick up emails for more than one working day advising clearly when we will be back and giving an alternative contact number.
  • Ensure that within the response provided, customers are given the name of the person dealing with the issue.
  • Follow email etiquette.

Delivering an effective service to customers with different needs

All our customers have the right to expect the same level of service. ACSOS will:

  • Be careful not to make assumptions about people’s needs or abilities but will consult them to identify their needs.
  • Offer a flexible approach enabling people to choose the most appropriate contact for their needs i.e. home visit, office call, telephone call, or explaining where a preference cannot be met.
  • Supply information in an appropriate format.

Following Initial Contact

Once initial contact has been made our commitment is to:

  • Make reasonably timely arrangements as required and as possible within the service required.
  • Communicate and explain the arrangements made and the timing of such arrangements in a timely and clear manner.
  • Keep to the arrangements made or explain why we cannot.
  • Keep the customer well informed at all times throughout their involvement with us as to what to expect and when to expect it.
  • Proactively deal with and explain any waiting lists or delays.

Summary of Care Standards

If customers feel that we have not met the standards set out in this policy they will be positively encouraged and given every opportunity to talk to us at the earliest time.

All feedback will be dealt with as per the Complaints Procedure.

No Surprises

All of our people are responsible for maintaining these standards both internally and externally. Managers of staff or volunteers have a particular responsibility to maintain these standards in relation to external and internal activities or alert the CEO if there are difficulties that need to be addressed.

Any slippage from these standards should be reported to the CEO as soon as possible so that action can be taken to support compliance.

The document will be reviewed every 36 months.