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 now take place on an annual basis and in 2021, 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
- Having a strategy for engaging and involving customers using a range of methods appropriate to the needs of identified customer groups
- Making the consultation of customers integral to continually improving our service and advising customers of the results and action taken
- Making positive changes to services as a result of analysing customer experience, including improved customer journeys
- Corporate commitment to putting the customer at the heart of service delivery and leaders in our organisation actively supporting this and advocating for customers
- 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
- Staff are polite and friendly to customers and have an understanding of customer needs
- Demonstrating how customer-facing staffs’ insight and experience is incorporated into internal processes, policy development and service planning
- 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
- Monitoring and meeting our standards, key departmental and performance targets, and telling our customers about our performance
- Demonstrating that we deliver the service we promised to individual customers and that outcomes are positive for the majority of our customers
- 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
- Advising our customers and potential customers about our promises on timeliness and quality of customer service
- 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:
“During the COVID-19 pandemic most of the 300+ support staff have worked from home with good arrangements made. For the 44 shift members of staff in the Control Room this has not been possible and detailed risk assessments have taken place to enable them to function as normal. The pandemic has brought challenges to the Service. Firefighters and other staff have been diverted, with national guidance, to undertake tasks such as driving ambulances, assisting in transporting the deceased at mortuaries, volunteering extra hours to support testing and vaccination centres and engaging in delivering food parcels and medicines to those in need. The assessment has been very well-prepared. The evidence base for the assessment has been extensive with 38 new pieces of evidence and a further 138 pieces of active evidence updated. The twenty elements with Compliance Plus are retained and a further five elements are now worthy of this higher rating bringing the total to 25 (as detailed above). This is, once again, an excellent achievement, and well deserved. This is a long standing CSE compliant service and managers and staff, with enthusiasm, aim to keep it this way. This Service is fully compliant with the CSE Standard.”
The 20 existing Compliance Plus elements have been retained, with three additional Compliance Plus being achieved at elements 1.3.5, 2.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.2.2 and 5.2.1.