NVQ - Demonstrate understanding of the rules that impact on improvements in customer service Part 1
Customer service is not just dealing with customers or just pleasing the customers and making them happy, but there are a lot of legislations and regulations involved that might affect the service or implementation of any service improvements. As a customer service advisor, one should be able to balance the requirements of the legislations and regulations with the needs of the organisation. In order to achieve this, one needs to have a good knowledge of the legislations and regulations and also the policies, procedures and practices of the organisation when dealing with service and its improvements.
When doing the above, approval needs to be taken from higher management in areas where authorisation of services exceed the limits of one's own authority. When implementing improvements, it is always best to discuss things with colleagues and all the partnership services involved.
This unit is a level 3 unit with a credit value of 6 and covers in detail all the above information. In order to have a look at the second part of this hub, please follow the link below:
2.1 & 2.2. What customer related legislation, external legislation and business regulation might affect the implementation of customer service improvements?
Legislations and regulations for an organisation originate from the organisation’s policies and procedures. Some of these have a direct impact or relationship between the organisation and the customer. In order for you to provide quality customer service, you need to understand and observe the rules and regulations relative to customer service procedures.
The main legislations that our organisation complies with are,
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Environmental Information Regulations 2004
- Local Government Act 1972
- Local Government Act 2000
- Disabilities Discrimination Act 1995
- Sale of Goods Act 1979
- Sale and Supply of Goods act 1994
- Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
- Consumer Protection Act 1987
- Consumer Credit Act
- All other laws relating to local authorities
When it comes to customer service, the legislations and regulations that might affect the implementation of customer service improvements are
- Equal Opportunity
- Protection from violence and bullying
- Fair trading
- Training legislation and standards
- Health and safety
- Risk and hazard management
- Food safety
- Data Protection
- Freedom of Information
2.3. Describe a time when you have balanced the requirements of legislation and external regulation with the needs of the organisation when implementing custome
Customer Service is like a backbone for any organisation. So when dealing with customers one has to take utmost care so as to not commit any errors and also take care to follow all the legislations and regulations of the organisation.
An incident that comes to my mind is a file that I dealt with regarding a SOVA (Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults) client. This client had a family who was fighting over her finances. One of the family members requested for the client’s paper file according to the Freedom of Information Act. The client’s file involved information regarding all members of the family including the client. In order for me to hand over information upon request from my manager, I had to go through the file and scan all pages that had information that had to be protected and redact those information before passing on the file to the requester.
And at one point the client died, but the investigation carried on as the family members had filed cases against each other which involved the deceased client’s finances. Now an external investigator was involved and I had to prepare the file again for the investigator with information that my manager advised was permissible to be provided.
All through this process, as it was sensitive information, I had to take utmost care not to breach any legislation, follow data protection policies and abide by the policies and procedures that a Local government has to follow.
Knowing the Policies & Procedures for Customer Service
3.1. Describe your organisations policies, procedures and practices that you need to take into account when you propose improvements in customer service.
Our organisation is an equal opportunities organisation and deals with people of all age, ethnicity, race and culture. It is customer centred which involves listening to customers in a warm and friendly manner. So when I propose improvements, I have to take into account
- Community services policies and procedures – This takes into account the services provided by the organisation to the community, what can be provided and what cannot be provided and who is eligible and ineligible for services
- Complaint and dispute procedures – This deals with issues customers face, and when not satisfied with any of the alternatives, customers are given the choice to place a complaint.
- Confidentiality policies – This deals with maintaining information in confidentiality.
- Conflicts – This deals with disagreements and misunderstandings in services provided by the organisation
- Equality and Diversity policies – This policy makes sure that every customer is given the right to access to services regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability or culture
- Health and safety procedures – This procedure makes sure that the services and equipment provided abide by the health and safety procedures
- Data protection Legislation – This legislation deals with customers’ data not being given away to someone who does not have the right for that information
- Safeguarding and protection – This policy makes sure that the community is a safer place for every person and that everyone is free of abuse and violence at home and at work
- Discrimination Act – This act deals with making sure that no individual is discriminated at home or work or at educational institutions under the grounds of race, ethnicity, gender or disability
- Customer care policy – This policy deals with the service and care provided by the organisation and reviews and visits are conducted periodically either in person or over the phone to make sure the customers are happy and safe
- Customer contact procedure – This procedure deals with the ways the customers are able to make contacts with the organisation and also the ways in which the organisation is able to make contacts with the customer. There are crisis teams, emergency teams for customers to contact out of office hours.
3.2. How would you gain approval to change customer service procedures and/or practices?
Any changes that will need to be made to customer services or procedures will be made with a valid reason behind it. It will also be in the benefit of both the customers and the organisation. So in order to gain approval, I will draw out the procedure, the reason and the outcomes in the form of a flow chart or some kind of relevant presentation and explain the need and the positive outcomes in order to gain approval.
3.3. What are the limits of your own authority and who else in the organisation needs to be involved if you cannot authorise improvements alone?
The limits of my own authority are the procedures and rules set out according to my job description. For example, when there was a project going on regarding service modernisation for the organisation, everyone involved were allowed to put forward their thoughts. Since I was involved in preparing and presenting panel meetings, I also got involved with the issues social workers were facing while calculating budgets. These were all put forward to the higher management and they devised a budget calculator with the help of IT team to ease the work for the social workers.
Also, recently I am working on a project where I am dealing with data cleansing and I have figured out the issue for an error that comes up on SWIFT (database system used in our organisation). I took this concern forward to my manager and explained to her the reason behind the error and how I rectified it. My manager has advised me to email all the information to the ICT team so that they can update the system. Anything above and beyond my level of authorisation will have to be approved by the operations manager for my department.
3.4. How would you involve colleagues or service partners in the implementation of improvements?
Making service improvements needs proper communications. Before making or implementing any improvements, I will first gather the issues the clients, partnership companies and employees are facing. This will be through feedback and other surveys. Once this data is collected, I will look through with the help of my manager and team members and take advise and ideas on how the improvement can be made to better the quality. This will be accomplished through group discussions, panel and team meetings.
Once the improvement is designed, it will be presented to all the service partners, departments and higher management involved and feedback will be taken. Once everyone is satisfied it will be implemented and customers will be notified through letters with any relevant information that they will be required to know. The organisation's website will also be updated with recent information.
The Key to Customer Strategy Improvement: Customer Listening
3.5. Explain what the relevant legislation and external regulations are relating to consumer protection.
The Consumer Protection legislations and regulations deal with unfair trade practices and came into effect in May 2008. This ensures that traders are honest and fair towards their customers. Consumer protection brings a limit to what businesses can and cannot do. The factors that lead to this legislation and regulation are increased competition, advancement in technology, incomes etc.
These laws tell how consumers have to be protected by the businesses. A few of the laws relating to consumer protection are,
- Weight and measures Act 1951 – This law makes sure that businesses measure goods correctly
- Trades Descriptions Act 1968 – This law deals with the description of goods that are sold
- Unsolicited Goods Act 1971 – This protects consumers from not paying for goods that they haven’t ordered
- Consumer Safety Act 1978 – This law deals with the safety of goods that are sold
- Sale of Goods Act 1979 – This law deals with measure that have to be taken to manufacture and sell flawless goods and the goods must be as described and fit for the purpose mentioned
- Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 – This includes services along with the law relating to Sale of goods Act 1979
- Consumer Protection Act 1987 – This law makes sure that all businesses in the EU meet the same standards and goods manufactured in one EU country can be sold across in any other EU countries.
- Food Safety Act 1990 – This law makes sure that businesses involved in food production manufacture or produce foods that are safe to eat.
- Sale and Supply of Goods act 1994 – This law brings together Sales of goods Act and Sales of Goods and Services Act. It gives a consumer right to return and claim for a refund if the products are not satisfactory.
- Food Labelling Regulations 1996 – This law makes sure that businesses tell consumers what the ingredients are in a food product.
I hope that this hub has been of some help to you. Please do not hesitate to share your experiences and thoughts through the comment section below. I will try my best to answer any questions that you might have at the earliest possible.
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All the best!