How Clients Help Shape Our Service

Telephone Service Case Study

It is central to our work to build confidence and improve the lives of our clients. Therefore consulting and listening to them is hugely important to us. At every appointment, clients are asked to complete a Customer Satisfaction Survey, the results from which are regularly collated, interpreted and taken forward for action or change when appropriate.

In responses over a period of time we detected a trend: 28% of clients responded that they were frustrated by our answer machine service: they would leave a message, it wouldn’t always be returned so they would leave another one the following day.

In response we first re-organised so that calls were answered ‘live’ more often. However, minor chaos ensued, as people who had called and left messages were being ‘leap-frogged’ by those whose calls were answered live – this left a minority of clients actually worse off which wasn’t our intention.

So a big change was made when a staff member was assigned as the dedicated ‘Duty Advisor’ and was given a small team of volunteers to work with. Calls were mainly returned on the day the message was picked up and no calls were answered live unless all messages had been returned first. This ensured that clients were dealt with chronologically as they made contact and an appointment lead time of 1-3 weeks was established and maintained.

This process also enabled prompt assistance with crises, it was responsive to need and the client/advice recording improved markedly. A message on the answer machine informs clients of the exact opening times, assured them that their call will be returned and were politely requested not to call repeatedly as they would be guaranteed a response. The number of messages left on the machine reduced by 32% and of course improved efficiency within the ‘Duty Team’. In early 2020 we asked clients again how they felt about contacting our service:

  • 4% said that they were frustrated;
  • 91% said that they felt our communication around telephone enquiries/returning calls was ‘clear’;
  • 83% said that making a call to us, leaving a message and knowing it would be returned had ‘reduced my anxiety levels somewhat’; and
  • 100% reported that they had received a timely returned call/live call was answered and felt that we were either ‘very good’ or ‘Excellent’ in our telephone interactions.
  • During the first ‘lockdown’ we were able to offer only a telephone and post service. All telephone lines were diverted to staff at home and clients were able to access DAS staff and advice within our usual opening hours, with no reduction in contact time at all.