Shropshire Council

Customer service point opening hours review (2018)

  • Period: 30 July 2018 - 24 August 2018
  • Status: Open
  • Audiences: Everyone
  • Topics: Customer services
  • Type: Public

Some background information

In light of the financial challenges we face due to government spending reductions and rising costs, we have to find ways of making savings across all council services. We also have a duty to make sure that we're using our resources as responsibly and cost effectively as possible in order to maintain services that matter to our residents, particularly those most vulnerable.

What is this consultation about?

Customer Services operates face to face offices all across Shropshire. At our 6 main offices in Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Whitchurch, Market Drayton, Bridgnorth and Ludlow, Shropshire council staff help customers directly with the services they need.

Whilst we recognise the importance of maintaining accessible services for our customers, the number of customers calling in to see us continues to reduce as shown below:

Year ended

April 2014

April 2015

April 2016

April 2017

April 2018

Customer numbers

70,615

70,825

52,015

39,229

33,079

In addition, we have a number of smaller offices around the County located in Albrighton, Bishop’s Castle, Broseley, Church Stretton both in the Town Council Offices and in the Health and Wellbeing Centre, Cleobury Mortimer, Ellesmere, Shifnal and Wem and the number of people using these offices has fallen drastically, some have recorded no customer use.    

Along with every other part of the council, we have a duty to make sure that we're using our resources as responsibly and cost effectively as possible in order to keep services running.

For some time our offices have had self-service telephones and public computers installed to help customers use these alternative ways of doing business with us. We still have our Customer Service Centre which is open between 8am and 6pm daily and we are developing better online self-serve facilities and we therefore have an opportunity to look critically and sensibly at the times we have staff present in our offices and at the continuing viability of our smaller offices in view of the financial challenges we face. 

What are we proposing?

We're proposing changes to the times during which we directly staff our 6 main offices at Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch and Market Drayton but with public access to our phones and computers available around these times.

Below are details of the proposed new opening times for our main offices:

Shrewsbury

  • Information – open Monday and Thursday 9am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

Ludlow

  • Information – open Tuesday and Friday 9am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

Oswestry

  • Information – open Wednesday and Friday 9am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

Market Drayton

  • Information – open Wednesday 9.30am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

Bridgnorth

  • Information – open Monday and Wednesday 9am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

Whitchurch

  • Information – open Thursday 9.30am to 4.45pm
  • Phones to our Customer Service Centre and self-service computers available outside these times

We are also proposing that we decommission the services at our small offices due to very low, or no usage. These are the offices at:

  • Albrighton
  • Bishop’s Castle
  • Broseley
  • Church Stretton Town Council
  • Church Stretton Health and Wellbeing Centre
  • Cleobury Country
  • Ellesmere
  • Shifnal
  • Wem

What do I need to do?

The survey we're inviting you to complete, available via the 'How to get involved' button on this page, lays out how our customer service points might operate in the future, and what this means for customers. The survey is also available as a hard copy form at your local customer service point.

Please note that no formal decision has been made at this stage.

The information we receive through this consultation will be used to inform any decision making on the future delivery of customer services at these offices. The consultation will run from Monday 30 July 2018 to Friday 24 August 2018.

The survey allows you to choose to comment on the office you use, or which is nearest to you, or to make a general comment on our proposals.

The potential impact of any changes on our customers is being assessed through the completion of an equality and social inclusion impact assessment (ESIIA). This is something we complete to show that we've been fair when looking at the needs of customers, especially those who might be affected more by any changes we might make. 

Is there a recommendation or a preferred proposal?

We are consulting on what we feel is the best compromise between continuing to provide a service and staying within our budget. In reaching this recommendation we have looked at the busiest days at each site and also the staff resource we have available to meet these needs.

In our 6 main offices we will keep the self-serve facilities so that customers can still speak to an adviser throughout the day and at times when Customer Service staff are not on site.

Frequently asked questions

What is Shropshire Council proposing?

Fewer customers are calling into our face to face customer service points now and we are proposing a reduction in the number of days we have staff available at our 6 main sites to help. Customers using these offices would still be able to speak to an adviser using one of our free phones or alternatively could use one of our public computers to do business online. In addition, we are proposing decommissioning our smaller offices where customer footfall is now very low.

When is this happening?

We will consult with our customers first and then make recommendations to Councilors later in the year – we expect September. After that we have not set any specific date but any resulting decisions are likely to be implemented by April 2019.

Why is Shropshire Council doing this?

Over the last few years we have seen the number of customers calling in to see us reduce by more than half. Matching the staff resource needed in our 6 main offices more closely to the actual demand from our customers will help us to make the financial savings we need to find across Customer Services and at the same time we have to look critically at whether it is good use of Council Tax payer’s money to keep our smaller offices that see very little use.

Isn’t this just a cut?

All councils are under pressure to make savings from their budgets and we are no different but this is not just about the available money. We are bringing in new ways for people to do business with us all of the time as we build a system for the future as well as working with wider organisations so that the help we can offer is more joined up. In proposing these changes we are trying to maintain a service for a reducing number of customers as well as live within the money available to us. We will still have staff on site on the suggested days and outside of those days our customers will still be able to talk to an adviser using our free-phones or public computers.     

If I need help, will I still be able to see someone?

In our main offices we are proposing that our staff be on site on a reduced number of days per week and we would expect our advisers to help customers who aren’t able to use our self-service facilities or make their enquiries from their own homes. Things like reporting issues, requesting services or making enquiries can be handled very easily by our Customer Service Advisers who are a call away on the free phones. As more services become available online and in a more user-friendly format, so more of our customers may also choose to use this service instead. 

Will I have to wait to be seen?

We will undoubtedly have peak times when it will be necessary to wait to see an adviser and at busy times it may be quicker to use the free phone or computer if you can.   

How many days will you be open for?

Details of the proposed opening times are displayed for each individual site.

How many hours per day will you be open?

Details of the proposed opening times are displayed for each individual site.

What happens if I call in and there are no Customer Service staff on site?

Customer Service staff are always available over the free to use phones, the Customer Service Centre is currently open from 8am to 6pm.

What will happen to Customer Services staff?

We would hope to redeploy staff to other duties. We are seeing fewer customers face to face which is why we need to review our opening hours but at the same time we need staff to respond to customers who are coming to us in different ways, such as through the telephone; to prepare for different ways of doing business with us in the future such as via social media and by providing customers with online help.

Documents

You can give us your feedback on this review either generally or on specific customer service points by completing our survey.

Go to survey »

Data protection

Information collected in our surveys will only be used by us (Shropshire Council) to inform the immediate and future provision of our services. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It will not be shared outside of Shropshire Council. Information collected via our online surveys (hosted on the Surveymonkey website) will be stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers in the United States of America and SurveyMonkey gives an undertaking never to disclose the survey questions or your responses to others without permission.