iBox Customer Care Scheme

1.0 Introduction

Quality customer service is a key priority (corporate) objective for iBox and as such it is important that all staff follow the procedures adopted and agreed by the Management Team. Customer service is an attitude, not a service and it is the responsibility of all employees and agents to ensure they provide the highest quality of service that resource levels allow. A customer can be anyone who approaches you for support, information, and/or advice, they can also be suppliers, colleagues, etc. However, for the purpose of this policy the word ‘customer’ refers to our service users.

A golden rule is to treat your customer in a way that you would like to be treated. A customer experience informs their judgment/perception of all our services, not just the service they have received, so it is important that when we communicate with customers we are professional and positive about the company, all services and all employees.

1.1 Customer Care Principles

The following principles form the iBox Customer Care policy:
• Be attentive and courteous
• Be honest and fair in dealing with customers
• Respond quickly to requests for support
• Set and publish standards for all services
• Record, monitor and publish compliments and complaints
• Explain our services and keep the customer informed of what is happening
• Ensure complaints are dealt with openly and fairly
• Actively seek the views of customers and staff
• Review our customer and staff care commitments
• Share good practice

Throughout this document issues raised will relate to these principles.
The aim of the principles is to show how we will deliver quality services by adopting consistent minimum standards across the company.

1.2 Image and Branding

When communicating with customers, always ensure the customer is aware that you are a representative of iBox.

1.3 What is Customer Care and Why is it Important?

We are all responsible for providing our customers with the “best in class” technology services. Customers require reliable, efficient services and we must strive to meet these demands, adapting services when and where possible to meet individual needs. Customer care means providing a good quality service in a friendly, efficient and helpful way, continually striving to improve services, not least by ensuring good communication and a positive attitude to customers.

However, in all our dealings with people, customers have the right to be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy. Where possible we should offer choices and in all cases give information about what is available. If a service is not available an explanation must be given. When delivering information it is essential that we present this information in a positive, clear and easy to understand way. We must ensure that communication going out of the come does not lead to an unnecessary customer enquiry. For advice on appropriate wording of written communication please refer to the Customer Service Manager.

1.4 Service Standards

Improved customer service is a Key Corporate Objective, each department must therefore develop and publicise service standards via their Service Delivery Plan. This should be discussed during the Personal Development Discussion process by all staff. The standards include the service’s commitment to customers and what customers can expect. These standards should be set following appropriate consultation with customers. Standards must include:

• Waiting and response times to telephone calls, correspondence and callers (in agreement or consultation with Customer Services)
• Commitments and service standards appropriate to the service provided to our customers
• Reliability and punctuality standards
• A publication date showing when leaflets are produced
• The use of plain language
• The correct use of iBox brands
• Branding that complies with current standards and guidance of the Marketing Department

2.0 Procedures

Contact with customers can be in person, by telephone, letter, fax, email, text message (SMS) or through the media (all communication with the media should be through the Marketing Department).

The following tips on plain written language are to be considered:

• Stop and think before you write – make a note of the points you want to make in a logical order
• Imagine you are talking to your reader. Write in a tone and style that suits the reader. Be sincere and personal, but do not patronise
• Get to the point quickly – the beginning must be of interest to your readers and give them the incentive to continue
• Be understood – obscure, Latin, foreign and legal words will not impress readers or help your writing style. Everyday language is more likely to help people understand your ideas or message
• Do not use jargon unless your readers will understand it – avoid technical words. Explain any technical terms you have to use
• Keep your sentence length down – try to stick to one main idea in a sentence. Be punchy
• Be direct – for example, say “I/We will do it” and not “it will be done by us/me”
• Be clear – do not waffle or stray from the main point or message. Make sure the words or phrases you use are not vague
• Promote the right image – design helpful leaflets and forms
• Read and check everything you write – is the grammar correct? Does it read clearly? Will the reader understand?
• Use your spellchecker

2.1 Dealing with Correspondence

All correspondence must be responded to within the parameter targets of the relevant service support agreement. If a full response is not available you must send an acknowledgement to the customer outlining any progress made, why there is a delay and give the name and contact details of who is dealing with the query and a new timescale for a full reply.

• The corporate style template must be used for all written correspondence.
• Use customers’ names when known, for example Miss/Ms/Mrs or Mr rather than Sir/Madam. Where you personalise the correspondence by using a name you should sign off with “Yours sincerely”. Where you address the correspondence with Sir/Madam the sign off should be Yours faithfully”
• Avoid jargon, technical language and abbreviations
• If you are going on annual leave ensure someone checks your in-tray for new mail and deals with urgent messages
• Avoid the use of impersonal standard correspondence wherever possible
• If a colleague goes on sick leave ensure that you check their in-tray and deal with urgent messages and correspondence
• Make sure responses are printed to a good quality and portray the high quality image of the company.

2.2 Dealing with Emails

• When sending/replying to an email ensure you adhere to the corporate email policy.
• Before going on leave, use the out-of-office assistant facility, explaining where help can be obtained whilst you are away. Ensure that you display the dates you will be absent.

2.3 Answering the Telephone

All internal calls must be answered with your first name and the name of your department, for example “Good morning/afternoon, Technical Support Department, John speaking”. All external calls must be answered with “Good morning/afternoon, iBox , John speaking”.

• Telephones should be answered within ten seconds of ringing (four rings)
• If you receive a call that is not for within your service area’s remit, only ensure a supervised transfer is initiated and the caller is transferred to a live person as opposed to an IVR system.
• Where you are unable to help the caller straight away, you should take the customer’s name, address and telephone number. Tell the caller when you expect to come back to them, for example within 30 minutes, with a response or, alternatively, ensure that the appropriate officer contacts them.
• If you are going to be out or unavailable, make suitable arrangements to deal with telephone queries, for example voicemail or diversion of your calls to an appropriate staff member.
• Keep a notepad by your telephone and offer to take a message if you are answering a call for someone who is not available or help them yourself if you are able to.
• Try to resist the temptation to interrupt, and ask the caller to repeat a message if you do not understand it.
• The company believes that employees should not be subject to verbal abuse and/or threats of violence. See Behaviour Policy attached as Appendix A.
• There will be times when you need to be firm with the caller in order to help them. Be polite rather than aggressive.
• Don’t be afraid to say no

2.4 Customer Site Visits

When making customer site visits, you should always remember that you are representing the company and are expected to remain professional at all times and act in accordance with the company’s Code of Conduct.

You should also:

• Follow the company’s lone working policy
• Show your identity badge before going into a customer’s site, whether they request to see it or not
• If visiting someone with a visual impairment or door entry system ask if they would prefer the use of a password before visiting
• Check with the customer that you are in the right place, with the right customer, before proceeding with the purpose of your visit
• If taking notes, check with the customer for accuracy and explain why you are taking notes
• Offer help if there are forms to explain or complete
• Reflect and sum up at end of visit, ensuring that the customer is aware of any proposed action
• If you are unsure about some things, say so but find out the answer as soon as possible and let the customer know
• If you are running late, telephone the customer to explain this and give a revised time. Try not to postpone or cancel visits
• If you are on sick leave and are able, ask a colleague to contact any customers with appointments to let them know
• If a colleague goes on sick leave ensure that you check their diary and in-tray and cancel or postpone any appointments as appropriate and deal with immediate appointments, as appropriate

2.5 Customers entering the Company-Office

The Customer Service Advisors ensure that the offices are welcoming and that customers are greeted in a warm and friendly way.
All Customer Service Advisors are dress semi-professional/professionally and wear name badges for ease of identification.

• Remember first impressions are important - be friendly and welcoming
• Staff must wear identity badges at all times
• Please remember our Customer Service Advisor training takes place periodically so please check with the Customer Care Manager to make alternative arrangements directly with your customer or visitor if they will be arriving during this time
• If you have visitors or customers attending site who will be passing beyond the public areas they need to have a visitor badge issued by Reception. Please inform Reception of expected visitors. This enables the Customer Service Advisors to produce badges in advance of your visitor or customer arriving, demonstrating efficiency and avoiding lengthy wait times
• Ensure wait times are kept to a minimum, maximum wait time should be no more than eight minutes. If this is not possible, explain to the Customer Service Advisors why there is a delay and give a new time for the customer to be seen
• When interviewing customers use a private interview room if they wish, following the interview procedure on the Intranet and in hard copy form in each interview room
• Make sure you follow up enquiries and ensure action has been taken
• Ensure leaflets/posters for your services in the customer waiting areas are up to date
• Offer customers assistance, for example with completing forms

2.6 Customer Scenario

The company is keen to hear the views of customers. We are a diverse organization and sometimes things do go wrong. It is our responsibility to listen to customers and apologise if we do get things wrong and take action to ensure such issues do not recur. We also need to listen when people say things are going well or make suggestions about the way we deliver services and where we prioritise services. Monitoring this information will highlight any problem areas as well as identifying areas of good practice.Conducting surveys and encouraging customers to give us feedback (compliments, comments and complaints) will help customers feel that the company is committed to listening to them. Remember colleagues can also be customers.

We must deal with complaints openly. It is important to remember that complaints are often presented as being about an individual member of staff. However, those individuals are acting in their capacity as employees of the company and therefore on behalf of the iBox. In most cases it may be the action of the company that is being complained about, not the individual employee.

2.7 Complaints

• Complaints must be acknowledged within 48 hours
• If possible, deal with complaints “on the spot”. If this is not possible full responses to corporate complaints must be completed within set timescales.
• When responding to complaints remember to answer all points raised by the complainant
• You should record all complaints on the Customer Relationship Management(CRM) system.
• Ensure that you listen to the complainant and check that you have interpreted the complaint correctly. Ask the complainant how they feel the matter should be resolved
• Take the opportunity to learn from complaints to improve services. Trends need to be monitored and appropriate action plans instigated
• Staff often ask for a definition of a complaint, who can complain and what about. A complaint can be defined as “a dissatisfaction expressed by a service user or someone on their behalf which needs a response”. More information is available in the complaints procedures
• Some customers may prefer that their dissatisfaction be dealt with initially as a comment or query. If this happens it should still be recorded with the outcome. If people remain unhappy after this process they will, in most cases, still have a right to make a complaint
• Colleagues must follow grievance procedures, where this is appropriate

2.8 Customer Comments and Suggestions

Comments and suggestions are a valuable source of feedback on service delivery. These should be recorded and should be included in the monitoring/analysis of complaints figures compiled by the Customer Service Manager

2.9 Staff Comments and Suggestions

There is a corporate staff suggestions scheme, which is available to all staff. This is managed by the Operations Manager.

3.0 Equality and Diversity

We are committed to promoting fairness, equality and diversity. We must ensure equal access to all services for all customers and should be mindful of how services can be offered in alternative forms.

3.1 Common Courtesies for Disabled Customers

• Treat disabled people as you would treat any other person – for example, as any individual in his or her own right and recognise any special needs
• Do not assume that an offer of assistance will automatically be welcome. Wait until your offer is accepted. Even then do not assume you know the best way of helping. Instead, request how we may help and listen to any instructions you are given by the expert (the one who receives the assistance)
• Do not ignore a disabled person by talking to them through a companion – the “does she or he take sugar” syndrome
• Relax, speak normally and stand in front to allow contact to be made, in the same way you would when talking to anyone else
• Be prepared to sit down or crouch to speak with a person in a wheelchair rather than tower over the person, as this can be intimidating
• Even when it is the companion you wish to speak to, take up a position so that the wheelchair user, who may be unable to turn, can also join in the conversation and does not feel left out
• A wheelchair is part of the body space of the person using it. Do not lean on it
• However, do not be afraid to make physical contact with a disabled person in the same way as you would with anyone else, for example offering a handshake

4.0 Training and Staff Development

Recognition of the crucial importance of customer services and the vital role of everyone working within the company has prompted the development of training courses specifically on customer care issues. These courses will support staff in their work. As a matter of course staff are expected to attend the following courses to keep themselves refreshed in these areas.

• Customer Care Induction
• Conflict management
• Disability awareness
• Understanding blindness/deafness
• Assertiveness
• Dealing with face to face aggression
• Complaints procedure (covered at Corporate Induction)
• Diversity/equality training

5.0 Information and Communication

In order to provide good customer care, employees must be aware of information available regarding the company. The more knowledgeable you are, the better the service you can provide to customers.
You should know about information leaflets relating to services and where to re-direct customers if their need is for an alternative service.

It is important that managers pass information to staff and it is essential that a slot is set aside in regular staff meetings for information sharing. It is also the responsibility of all staff to read company policies and procedures and to read material such as newsletters and information sheets. All units or teams should have a central point for storing such material.

6. Consultation

It is a vital aspect of customer care to actively seek the views of customers to ensure we are meeting their needs. Managers should also put in place systems to enable staff to make suggestions about service change and service delivery. It is important that consultation takes place at an early stage. After any consultation exercise it is vital to provide feedback to participants and inform people about any action being taken as a result of the consultation.

7. Whistle Blowing

The company has demonstrated its commitment to the highest standards of openness and accountability with its confidential reporting policy, commonly known as the whistleblowing policy. It is designed to give employees and agents, the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have about issues such as unacceptable behaviour, corruption, malpractice or fraud. Such individuals will be given protection from possible reprisals or victimisation if disclosures are made in good faith.

You may raise matters with the following:

• Audit Partnership Manager (financial matters, including fraud and corruption)
• Head of Personnel and Development (personnel and personal issues)
• Monitoring Officer (other illegality or malpractice)

8. Measuring our Performance

The customer care standards and targets will need to be reviewed regularly and new standards set so that we can continue to improve services to our customers: in order to do this effectively, all staff are encouraged to contribute to this process.

APPENDIX A

ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR POLICY

iBox is opposed to all forms of unfair discrimination and has policies in place about equal opportunities and harassment. At times, customers (or others) may behave in a way that is at odds with these policies, is unacceptable or unreasonable, may be offensive and may also be aimed at staff personally. These types of behaviour will not be tolerated. Unacceptable or unreasonable behaviour usually takes the form of spoken or written statements which you find unwanted or offensive about gender, mental state, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, age or background. It might, for example, take the form of sexual innuendo, a racist comment aimed at a member of staff or a third party, or dismissive statements about people with disabilities. We do not expect our staff to tolerate such behaviour.

Telephone Conversations

• If you receive a call from a person who is abusive or discriminatory you can terminate the call without prior reference to a Manager.
• Before doing so, tell the person politely but firmly that such remarks are unacceptable and that you will end the call unless they stop.
• If the person persists, tell the caller you are ending the call, replace the handset and make a note on the CRM file. Any witness should contribute a comment. (Remember that in some offices, the telephones have a hands-free facility).
• Alert your Manager as soon as possible.

Offensive Remarks Contained in Written Material

• You should send a written response explaining that the statements are unacceptable and why, asking the person not to repeat them.
• If the person persists, you should consider how to deal with the issue on a case-by case basis with your Manager.

Offensive Remarks Face-to-Face
• You should end the interview or visit if necessary.
• Before doing so, tell the person politely but firmly that such remarks are unacceptable and that you will end the interview unless they stop.
• If the person persists, tell the person you are ending the interview, ask the person to leave and make a note on the case file. Any witness should contribute a comment.
• Alert your Manager as soon as possible.

Support

We will support staff distressed by abusive behaviour and will find ways to deal with it, which are sensitive to their needs, especially where abuse may affect them personally.