Council okays new customer service policy

The township has approved a new customer service policy aimed at improving communication with residents.

“I believe it is important to let the public know that we have identified customer service as a concern and that collectively, staff are working to improve our service standards,” Clerk Patty Sinnamon  told council during her report on July 8.

She noted when customers have an inquiry or concern they will use the telephone over 80% of the time, and the township’s phone service has been identified as “a trouble spot” in recent months.

“Staff must understand that when the telephone communications are used well, satisfaction levels will be increased, thereby increasing the public perception of the municipality,” Sinnamon’s report stated.

She explained township staff has met with Wightman Communications to discuss improvements to the telephone system itself, including call forwarding, access to a staff directory, and reducing the number of callers transferred from one staff member to another.

An “auto attendant” will ans­wer the phone at all times “so callers can go directly to whom they wish to speak with,” the report stated.

In addition to telephone communication, the customer service policy also addresses communication via email and regular mail, and includes guidelines for staff pertaining to general courtesy, customer complaints, and follow-up for decisions of council.

The policy states all customer issues “are to be ad­dressed in a prompt, professional manner,” and customers themselves are to be greeted in person “with a smile, eye contact, and with an offer to assist, where appropriate.”

It also noted staff should always look for ways to “go that extra mile in order to enhance the overall service de­livery” and the perception of the township.

“I am setting a standard of expectation,” Sinnamon told council, adding the township will encourage public feedback  through its community page and its website “over the coming months.”

Councillor Bruce Whale asked how staff plans to monitor the effectiveness of the new customer service policy.

Sinnamon replied, “To be honest, I think the public will monitor it.”

Mayor John Green agreed, saying he will surely hear about it if the township does not respond within the time frames set out in the policy. Those include 10 business days for regular mail, two business days for email, and one business day for telephone calls.

Council unanimously pass­ed a resolution approving the customer service standards and adopting them as part of the township’s corporate policy manual.