Customer Services Parking Services

Customer services OK

I popped into Customer Services at the council again this afternoon to keep an eye on it.

All pretty calm. 29 people waiting to be seen. No wait for meeters and greeters. No wait at cash office with two windows open and two people being seen. Housing benefits had 19 people waiting and there were 10 waiting for other services including 6 people waiting for parking.

It took 18 minutes to be seen by the parking people which seemed like too long a wait but not too bad. There were five staff on the parking desks which is what there should be. All round OK I think.

Customer Services Parking Services

More mystery shopping

I recently wanted to some visitors’ vouchers to allow a plumber to do some work on my house. They arrived in the post this afternoon. I sent the required form and a cheque at about this time last week. Returning the vouchers within 5 working days including two trips through the postal system seems like pretty good going to me. It would have been nice if it was less than a week but a week is OK.

I would be interested to hear your stories of how the parking service is working.

Customer Services Ealing and Northfield

Check your gullies

We are going to get a lot of rain down today and tomorrow so it is a good time to check that the gullies in your road work. Gullies are the road drains that have thick metal grates. Gullies are a council responsibility, most other water things are down to Thames Water. Gullies get cleaned out annually on main roads and bi-annually on side roads. Occasionally a gully can get blocked and the only time anyone can spot it is when it rains.

On Sunday I noticed the gully outside my office window was blocked and that a small lake had formed in front of my house after a short downpour on Sunday afternoon. I e-mailed the council as instructed on the council’s gully cleaning webpage. I got an e-mail acknowledgement at the end of Monday with a job number. This lunchtime I noticed a truck from McNicholas doing the work. The guy doing the job was very cheerful and explained what he did. They are busy right now as we have had lots of leaves down early and rain.

Ideally the gullies should be cleaned out within three working days so I might complain that the guys were a day and a half late but I accept that this is their busy time. If a blocked gully is causing “disruptive flooding” they reckon to be there in an hour.

Customer Services

Mixed picture at Ealing’s Customer Services

I made another trip to Customer Services this morning to see how we are doing. It was the 1st of the month and it was a Monday, combine that with the fact that everyone has just got back from their holidays and you might expect the place to be busy – you would be right.

At first glance it looked like mayhem. There were 20-odd people waiting to get a ticket from the meeters and greeters. There were over 30 waiting for the cashiers. The Parking Services queue was 29 and the wait was almost 2 hours.

My own experience was good. I arrived at 11:37 and I only had to wait four minutes to talk to one of the meet and greet staff. They told me about the wait for Parking Services and at that point most people would give up and try another day.

I did a bit of further research on the cashiers’ queue. Most of the people were paying their Council Tax on a monthly basis with their paying in books. They do have lots of different paying in options so I am perhaps not too worried about this group. If they want to come in on the first of the month every month then it is up to them. There were three staff on and they worked through the queue pretty fast from what I could see.

The Parking Services queue was totally unaceptable. On making enquiries I found out that only 3 out of 5 of the Parking Services workstations were manned. I will be chasing this one up.

On the positive side the meeters and greeters and security staff all seemed to be good natured and handled themselves well on what must have been a stressful day.

Since I last wrote a piece on Customer Services the front door has been fixed and the littering problem has been solved. Since then the door seems to have broken again. There is still lots of sticky tape messing it up. More nagging required.

I would be very interested to hear your Ealing council customer service stories – good or bad.

Customer Services

Customer services have another good day

This morning I popped into Perceval House to get a parking permit.

This time it was for real, not just a jolly mystery shopping exercise.

I arrived at 9:20am, I was seen at 9:35am and left the building with a shiny new parking permit at 9:43am.

When I arrived there was a queue of 6 people for permits. There were four Parking Services stations open and I was told that the fifth would be filled later that morning by a lady who works the middle-of-the-day busy period around her children’s school hours – a very sensible bit of flexible working I reckon.

On the negative side the main door hasn’t been working since my first trip, the glass of the front door is all messed up with bits of old sticky tape and there is a lot of litter around the steps. I can feel an e-mail coming on.

I would be very interested to hear your Ealing council customer service stories – good or bad.

Customer Services

Customer services too slow

I decided to give Ealing’s Customer Services a harder test by turning up mid-afternoon on the last Friday of the month. Sure enough the place was a lot busier than my previous visit. For instance, there were 26 people waiting for parking permits and 26 people waiting for housing benefits.

I talked to a few people. The people waiting for housing benefits enquiries were typically stoical. One lady had been waiting over an hour to get visitors vouchers. There was a queue of 7 at the cash office window but there were 3 staff on so it didn’t look like it would be a long wait.

One older lady who wanted a Leisure card was a little confused by the different numbers streams for the different queues. She wasn’t much reassured by my explanantion but her number came up soon after we chatted and I was able to get her to the right place.

I took the opportunity to check the loos. The gents looked as clean and fresh as any office loos which is to say not brilliant but pretty acceptable.

It took me 51 minutes from 3:11pm to 4:02pm to be seen. It seemed that only three Parking Services reps were on which probably accounted for the delay.

Customer Services

Customer services have a good day

Today I had a meeting cancelled on me this afternoon so I decided to do a bit of mystery shopping at the the council given that I am about to confirmed as the cabinet member responsible for the customer services function in Perceval House at tonight’s Annual Council meeting.

I walked in and told the meeter and greeter lady that I wanted to get a parking permit. She attempted to check that I had completed a form already and that I had the right id documents. I explained that I was a just checking and she gave me a ticket anyway. I got past her at 15:06 hours. The customer services area seemed pretty serene and well organised. There were screens giving some indication of what was going on. There were 6 people waiting for parking permits (and vouchers) and 10 people waiting for student finance issues. While I waited I chatted to about 20 different people. All bar one was happy with the service they were getting. Some of the students had been waiting for 20 minutes but they were aware that they were pressing against a deadline so were phlegmatic about the wait. Similarly with housing benefit claimants. People waiting on parking had been waiting about 10 minutes. One lady was back for the 4th time to discuss getting a new food re-cycling bin. This seemed ridiculous and was the only bad story I heard.

I was seen at 15:25 after a 19 minute wait. The chap was very pleasant. I obviously didn’t want to take up his time but I learnt that it was a pretty quiet day. He reckoned I should come back next Tuesday after a Bank Holiday weekend just before a month end – it would be a much busier. I might just do that.

On the whole I got the impression that things were working well here. I do accept that it might have been a good day – I will be back, often.