Essex County Council’s Compliance and Complaints team achieved recent success at the 2021 UK Complaints Handling Awards. We caught up with Compliance and Complaints Manager, Robbie to discuss the awards, their successes and find out more about what the team do.
Firstly, congratulations on your award win, please tell us more about it.
In May 2021, the Compliance and Complaints team won the bronze award at the UK Complaints Handling Awards 2021. Our award was based on our innovative initiative ‘Brilliant Basics’ which was designed to ensure that we are deliver our basics brilliantly to ensure that we provide a consistent customer experience every time.
It was a massive achievement to be recognised for our approach to complaints management and we were the first local authority to make it to a final. We faced stiff competition from high profile, well known private sector companies and we are very proud of the fact that we have been recognised as one of the national leaders in our field.
In addition, to our bronze award I was named the overall ‘Professional of the Year’ which is an absolute honour to be recognised by the judges in this way.
Well done, you must be proud of yourself and the team. So, tell us a bit about your team – who you are and what you do?
We are the Compliance and Complaints team, part of Customer Services. We are made up of Regulatory and Compliance Officers and Customer Specialists and have also placed an officer in the team from the Kickstart programme. The teams are led by Bev and Mike, our Team Leaders, and I oversee the entire team as a Compliance and Complaints Manager.
We are responsible for managing all customer complaints and complex and executive enquiries covering all ECC service areas, such as adult and children social care, highways, libraries, coroners, and everything in between. Our Children in Employment and Entertainment team administer all requests for licenses that are required for a child to perform in stage, film, television, or commercials or to model and in doing so, ensure that the child is fit to take part, that their education will not suffer, and that proper supervision has been made to secure their health, comfort, and kind treatment.
In addition, we manage the unreasonable, repetitive, and persistent customer behaviour process and Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigations.
We liaise with service areas and partner organisations to ensure that customers are provided with responses that address all their issues, are concise and jargon free and are compliant with ECC processes.
We pride ourselves on the work we do to ensure that learning and service improvements highlighted as a result of customer contact, are identified, and actioned to reduce reputational risk, avoidable contact and therefore improve the customer experience.
What do you think is the secret to your team’s success?
We are all naturally curious people who want to get to the root cause of an issue and by being tenacious we do our best to identify, resolve and learn from our customers to improve the customer experience.
Our secret is simple, we work together as a team to learn from and support each other. Working in complaints can be overwhelming but the team have energy, resilience, and empathy for customers but also each other which is essential in this role as some of the complaints we receive can be distressing.
So that we all understand and work towards a common goal we co-created a vision and mission statement specifically for our team. This is underpinned by our three Brilliant Basics which I designed to ensure that we deliver a consistent service to our customers.
So, what’s the most rewarding part of your job?
When I think of complaints, I don’t see them as a negative. I like to see what the opportunities are – seeing a customer expression as the voice of many, those that don’t take the time to contact us.
Using the insight from what customers are telling us to see change embedded across the organisation to prevent similar complaints and reducing avoidable customer contact. A thank you or a compliment from a previously dissatisfied customer is a real bonus.
What advice would you give to someone considering ECC as a future employer?
Be open minded!! Don’t let your preconceptions about a County Council be a barrier to trying something new. Working at ECC offers so many different opportunities and career options – the variety of roles is varied and endless, whether you are at the start of your career, wanting to start a new path or looking a senior role, there will be something for you. Ultimately a role at ECC means you can make a real difference to the lives of our customers and communities.
To find out more about our award-winning compliance and complaints team and their current vacancies click here.