How to stay in touch with South Somerset District Council
Here at SSDC we have a strong customer first approach, striving to provide an efficient and welcoming service to all our residents.
If you are a South Somerset resident, you may have noticed some changes in the way you can connect with us and may feel that sometimes you cannot get through to us as quickly as you’d like.
Please be assured your enquiry does matter to us. The Council is currently transforming the way it operates with the aim of launching new ways of working, very different to how councils traditionally have operated. The ambition is to make the authority a more modern, efficient and effective organisation meaning we can enhance our customers' experience and enable the council to respond to our customers changing needs and preferences.
To find out more about how customers can connect with us, our communications lead Richard Birch met with Customer Connect Team Manager Sharon Jones.
And here are some answers to some other questions you may have:
What is Connect?
Connect is our new front facing office at our central location within Yeovil. It is a new open modern space which is technology enabled to help us help customer access our services digitally but also has flexible meeting spaces for us to meet with our customers. Here you will be greeted by a Customer Connect officers who is multi skilled who can help determine what help or advise you need. They will help and support customers to go online and access our digital channel and answer any question you may have.
This space has several self-serve computers which are touch screen as well as having a keyboard and mouse. They also have a scanner attached so you are able to upload evidence.
As well as our technology enabled space we introduced customer access points across our district. This allows our customer to access our services digitally in the same way but they are also able to use the phone to speak to us. The customer connect officer is then able to share the computer so able to talk them through the screens online.
It is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and can be found at Petters House which is located between Yeovil Library and the Octagon Theatre. We also have Customer Access Points, devices which you can use to contact the council as well as access online services and upload evidence for benefit claims etc, in Chard, Crewkerne and Wincanton with more to be rolled out in the near future.
Why is the council changing the way it communicates with customers and what are the benefits?
By encouraging customers to access our services online and self-serve this significantly saves staff time and resources at a time when the Government grants which enable us to provide services have been significantly reduced. But this is not just about savings, it about giving our customers more options of engaging with us. Most of us use services such as internet banking and know the convenience of being able to this 24 hours a day, in this digital age we need to provide access to our service when it suits our customers.
Many customers do not realise how easy accessing services such as making a payment or reporting your missed waste can be done online. By encouraging our customers to use our digital channels means our officers will have more time to assist our customers that need our help and support.
If a customer cannot or does not want to go online for a service can they still telephone SSDC?
Absolutely - we are not taking away services from our customers but just enabling those who can access service online more easily. Your call will be answered by the customer connect team who have been multi skilled to deal with a range of enquiries and will do their best to deal with your enquiry. Where they are unable to answer your enquiry they will take all the details and make arrangements for an officer to contact you.
We appreciate at times during high demand our customers may experience long call wait times however we do have a call back facility on the line and we will call you back regarding your enquiry.
What if I want to see an officer (such as a planning officer) face to face, can I go to the council offices to speak to them?
Officers are no longer accessible on a walk in basis. If you do come into our Connect or Chard offices you’ll be seen by a Customer Connect officer, they are multi skilled team and able to deal with a range of enquiries and will help you as best as they can with an enquiry. Where they are unable to answer your enquiry they will take all the details and make arrangements for an officer to contact you or make an appointment for you depending on the service you are accessing.
This means our officers in our back offices are able to concentrate on their work and can contact our customers at a time when they have all the details and able to give the enquiry their full attention.
If I am following up an existing enquiry who should I call?
We are experiencing high demand across a range of services at the moment and we would ask our customers to be patient with us and we are doing all we can to work through outstanding enquiries. If you do need to call, where possible call outside our peak hours which is between 8.30 am and 9 am.
Our new My Account facility on our website means you are able to track the progress of some applications and enquiries. This area is continuing to be improved and more services will be available this way. This will save you time in chasing any outstanding enquiries with us.