Agenda item


(A report by Emily Spicer, Assistant Director for Wellbeing & Community Leadership)


The Portfolio Holder presented the report supported by the Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Community Leadership and the Lead Officer for Wellbeing and Community Leadership. 

As Sovereign Councils and as a Partnership Boston Borough Council was  committed to a vision of providing a customer experience that was simple, effective and customer focused and ensured access to the many services that are offered. One of the key principles to achieving that vision was to understand our communities and customers, and how they changed to inform the way the Council provided its’ services, now and into the future.

The strategy sets out three key outcomes to years to achieve, an organisational culture that is customer focussed, a simple, effective, and positive customer experience and support that meets our customer’s needs.

Success would be monitored through the South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership Customer Experience Board who would have oversight of the Strategy and work collaboratively to enable effective strategic direction and co-ordination of delivery.

Members were advised that as part of the 2023/24 South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership (SELCP) Annual Delivery Plan, development of a shared Customer Experience Strategy was a key strand to assist the councils’ improvement in delivering a cost-effective operating model whilst supporting service delivery. Each of the three councils, that formed the South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership, were responsible for delivering a wide range of public services.

The strategy enabled SELCP to move away from ‘customer service’ as the responsibility of a single team or department.  Instead, it recognised the importance to the whole organisation and ensured providing a simple, effective and positive customer experience to be part of the Councils’ core vision and values that every council employee subscribed to.

For the purpose of this strategy, the Council’s “customers” were identified as residents’, businesses, people who work in or visit the area, community groups and charities and partners working with the Councils. Working collaboratively through the Customer Experience Board and with oversight from Portfolio Holder would ensure links identified with the SELCP ICT and Digital Strategy for a consistent approach.

The Strategic Lead for Wellbeing and Community Leadership addressed the meeting and advised members that that the ethos of the work being undertaken was that of a clear and consistent approach. The emerging action plan would be adopted by all services including those provided by PSPS.  Officers recognised the challenges of its implementation in Boston which was a diverse community and following the last census, It had been identified as one of the largest areas of population growth.   Whilst the Borough had the youngest average age across the 3 areas, it also have an ageing population resulting in an increase dependency of support for vulnerable residents.  With changes in society and ongoing improvements to digital technology, residents had differing expectations at to the service they required.  The provision of a user friendly digital service with clear signposting, would allow access at whatever time customers needed to use it, freeing up time for an improved service level for customers who required a face to face service.  A good approach would be taken to prevent interactions from occurring, allowing management of demand on the service and also on expectation of the service.


Significant committee deliberation followed which has been condensed, key points collated where possible and included:


In response to a question asking what measures were in place to ensure that the same level of service would be achieved across all areas to address the level of customer expectation, The Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Health advised that whilst it was recognised it would be challenging, an incremental approach would be taken to align the overall service over time. 

Concern was noted that there were no residents on the Board at the current time and the lack of their perspective on the plan was a key omission.   Officers agreed that residents’ engagement was fundamental and would be taking place both informally and formally as the customers were central to the strategy.

The importance of liaison with the various foreign national communities within the Borough was also recognised, ensuring language provision and translation facilities where necessary and liaison should also take place with the community leaders in the town. Suggestions also noted consultation with letting agents and face to face consultations in the market place.

Members voiced strong concern of the need to consult with both elderly residents and disabled residents on a face to face basis with focus groups. Many elderly residents would not engage with the digital provision available as they did not feel confident in using the website option and despite the Officers advice that data confirmed the over 65’s were the fastest growing group of I.T users, members stressed that face to face consultations were required as they were very aware of the large number of elderly residents in the town who were not I.T literate.  Many felt vulnerable and isolated due to their not being able to access services or information and consideration should be given to using local radio stations and also simple pamphlets to provide basic contact information for phone numbers. 

Reassurance was provided that partners including primary care and support services and voluntary organisations were all being consulted.

Concern was voiced at the statement of ‘we will say sorry if we get thingswrong and put it right, quickly’, which members felt was not a strong statement. 

Addressing the draft document, a number of issues were raised with agreement that the wording of the document was written in Council language with the statement ‘’we believe that there is a way this can be achieved through an integrated sub-regional offer’ having not been written for ease of general reading by the public or those with learning or health difficulties.  Furthermore it was agreed the document was too long and complex in its content, with members’ agreeing that a precise was required on a single paper with bullet points, to ensure clarity of understanding by all parties in the consultation process.  Further concern noted the document read top down, there was no reference for residents to contact their Ward Councillors who were had not been mentioned anywhere within the document, and nothing to direct residents to a ‘remedy’ section of where to go to if ‘something went wrong’.

Referencing data provided in respect of the number of face to face contacts within a year, concern noted that the figure appeared low in comparison to the population figure with 25% of the population being over 65’s the figure indicated that many did not feel welcome to visit the Council.  Concern was also noted at the length of time taken to answer calls across the services and time wasted holding on for a long time.  Additional concern noted the tone and brusqueness of some operators answering calls and the impression they gave. 


Summarising the Chairman stated that it seemed that the committee had agreed the principle of the document and what it was trying to be achieve across the Partnership and also agreed that the document was informative.  However, in light of the number of key concerns which had been identified during the deliberations, the reporting author was requested to return the document to the committee following the consultation process. The committee could at that point appraise the document and the changes made, prior to making its recommendation(s) to Cabinet.



That the Corporate and Community Committee seek the following consideration prior to finalisation of the document:


  • That a member(s) of the public be co-opted to the Board.
  • That a precise of the document be provided for all consultation exercises to enable full comprehension by all parties.
  • That re-wording of certain areas of the document be considered in line with the committee comment that the document is not written for public ease of understanding.
  • That face to face consultation be undertaken with focus groups across the borough to include those with the elderly and disabled.
  • That the document include a section for ‘where to go’ if a resident has an issue.
  • That Boston Borough Councillors be included both in consultation and in the document as a reference point for residents.
  • That the document be re submitted to committee on completion of the final draft.


Supporting documents: