Our Customer Services Charter
At Cheshire East Council we are committed to providing all our customers with the high quality of service that they expect. Our Customer Charter sets out the standards which all council staff are expected to adhere to, and the aims we strive toward.
Our promise – we will:
- Make you, the customer, our focus.
- Do what we say we will do, when we say we will do it.
- Treat you as an individual, and in a fair, objective, and helpful manner.
- Help you receive the services you need.
- Listen to you.
Keeping you informed – we will:
- Communicate important news, updates, and changes that we make to services.
- Let you know what is expected of you, and what information we need from you.
- Use your preferred method of communication when we contact you wherever possible.
- Clearly explain what will happen next and when you can expect to have your request completed.
- Let you know what is happening with your enquiry and take time to explain our decisions to you.
- Try our best to let you know who can help, even if we can’t.
Getting it right – we will:
- Aim to get it right first time without you needing to contact us again.
- Respect your right to privacy and confidentiality and let you know if any information you provide has to be published by law.
- Proactively offer you services based on your needs.
- Apologise if we get it wrong, put things right as quickly as possible, and learn from our mistakes.
- Ask for feedback about your experience dealing with us. We’ll learn from this and use it to improve.
Ease of access – we will:
- Ensure that our online services are informative, useful, and easy to use.
- Offer you a choice of ways to contact our services.
- Use plain language that is clear and easy to understand.
- Make our communications available in other languages and formats when necessary.
When you contact us
The fastest way for your enquiry to be dealt with is usually through our online services. We will continue to provide other methods of contact for customers who are unable to use online services or prefer not to.
However you make contact, our staff will work to the standards below.
When you call us
- We will aim to answer your call within two minutes. This may not be possible for our more complex services or at busy times, but we will let you know where you are in the queue or offer you an alternative way of contacting us.
- If you need specialist advice, we will transfer you to another department or take a message for them to call you back.
- There will always be someone available to help in an emergency. Our emergency control centre is available outside of normal working hours.
When you visit our face-to-face services
- We will greet you on arrival and ensure that we direct you to the right person or service.
- If you have an appointment, we aim to keep to our appointment times.
- If there is any delay, we will let you know as soon as possible, inform you of the reason, and provide the estimated time you will be seen.
When you contact us by letter or email
- Acknowledge your contact and confirm how it will be dealt with.
- Contact you within eight working days if we need further information from you.
- Issue you with a full response to your enquiry at this point or provide you with details of who is dealing with the matter and how long they will need to respond.
- If your letter or email is to apply for a council service or report an issue, our acknowledgment will let you know what happens next and by when.
Let us know how we did
We are committed to making sure that our services reach the highest standards, but we recognise that sometimes things will go wrong. If this happens, we want you to let us know as soon as possible.
We also want you to let us know if a member of staff or a service has impressed you, or if you have any suggestions for how we can improve our services.
When you contact our customer feedback, compliments, and complaints team
- We will acknowledge your suggestion, compliment, or complaint within three working days of recording it.
- We will provide a full response within 10 working days - this is known as ‘stage 1'.
- If you are dissatisfied with the response you receive, you may request that it be reviewed by a second officer - this is known as ‘stage 2’.
- At stage 2, we will provide a full response within 20 working days.
- If it is not possible for us to meet these timeframes, we will contact you to explain why, and provide you with a more accurate timeframe for your individual case.
- There are different procedures and timescales if your complaint relates to adults or childrens social care.
Requesting information from us
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by local authorities. We publish commonly requested information on our website, but you can also request specific information from us.
You can do this by making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in writing. In most cases making an FOI request is free, but more complex requests may incur a charge. Our team will let you know if this applies to your case.
When you make a Freedom of Information request
- We will provide a response within 20 working days. If this is not possible, we will contact you to explain why and give you a timeframe for our reply.
You can also ask for a copy of the information which we hold about you. This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR).
When you make a Subject Access Request
- Once we have verified your identity, we will provide a response within one month. If this is not possible, we will contact you to explain why and give you a timeframe for our reply.
How can you help us?
We will do everything we can to ensure that your enquiries are dealt with promptly and professionally, but we need your help to do this.
You can help us by:
Checking our website for answers to your questions and using our online services where you can.
Using our specified contact numbers and addresses rather than contacting officers directly. This helps us to keep track of your requests and ensure they are handled as quickly as possible.
Treating our staff in the way you would expect to be treated.
Giving us information that we need to complete your request when we ask for it.
Keeping us informed of any changes in your circumstances, especially where it may affect a service you have asked for.
Not contacting us multiple times about the same issue. If we’ve provided you with a timeframe for a response, please wait until this time has passed before contacting us again.
Letting us know straight away if something has gone wrong. If you have a complaint about our services, we want to hear it.
Giving us feedback to help us improve services in the future.
Page last reviewed: 22 September 2022
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