Customer Service Gets New Emphasis

One of the goals in Cobourg Council’s current Strategic Plan is “Service Excellence” and it’s planned to implement this by building on the Customer Service Strategy as outlined in the report by consultant CSPN in May of 2023. Part of this includes a “Service Desk” in the lobby of Victoria Hall. The idea being that questions from the public in person, by phone or email would all be first directed to a Customer Service Representative. But there’s more to the Strategy than that – Staff have reviewed the consultant’s report and at their next regular meeting, Council will be asked to approve a Customer Service and Implementation Plan. Details are below but one major item is the implementation of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

The starting point is the CSPN report (download from Resources below) but Staff modify some of the recommendations.

Summary of Plan

  1. The development of a first ever Customer Charter for the Town of Cobourg
  2. The development of KPI’s that are tied to the Customer Charter and will be publicly reported.
  3. Development of a customer service, escalation, and complaint policy
  4. The introduction of a streamlined “Service Cobourg” Model for all service requests and inquires.
  5. Procuring a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
  6. The introduction of a triage system to efficiently deal with service requests, removing routine customer service requests from departments.
  7. Installation of a new service desk in the main foyer of Victoria Hall to be staffed by dedicated Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s).
  8. Setting the goal of having 70% of all service requests resolved by the CSR’s at the first point of contact.

This plan was first presented to Council at the Corporate, Finance, and Legislative Standing Committee on June 6 and it was well received.  There was additional discussion about the idea that at least some of the time, the CSR would be joined by Councillors so the public can chat with Councillors.

You can see sketches of what the Service Desk might look like in this article.

The full report has a lot of detail with good recommendations but does not spell out the wording of the KPIs – they are “under development”.  Under the heading of “Public Engagement” Chris comments that “The public will have just over 4 weeks to provide comments from the posting of this report.”

Some of the changes are now in progress and some have already been implemented. All costs are already in the 2024 budget.

As Chris summarizes the plan:

The customer service strategy and implementation plan will fundamentally overhaul the customer experience for residents in the Town of Cobourg.


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28 days ago

Reading the 11 pages of hardcopy hot air is another example of Municipal Government’s lack of efficiency. 11 pages and likely ~$25,000 in consultancy fees to KPMG 4 years ago and probably another $25,000 to CSPN in 2023 and it seems the only action taken was procuring a $15,000 desk AND of course working very closely with the Heritage Committee because, heaven help us all, if the wood grain wasn’t native to Northumberland County. In what successful private business, does it take 14 months to start to make meaningful changes to customer service after a consultant has told you precisely what you needed to do?! What prevented the CAO from moving items forward in the last 14 months?

IMO 75% of the actions listed on the CSSIP Executive Summary do little to improve customer service – charters, policies, escalation maps and a new model – mean little without accountability. Sadly, accountability seems to be in short supply as is leadership from the CAO.

Last edited 28 days ago by Rob
Reply to  Rob
26 days ago

The Deputy Mayor and the Not For Profit Management Co & skills must be at work
on this one !

28 days ago

Next step is a demand for construction of a new City Hall, More space needed for this service plus new office for Customer Service. Department Mgr. Personal Secretary & replacement personnel for this new dept. Also maybe future permanent space for all the outside consultants needed. If funds left over how about a cafeteria?

Reply to  Rod
28 days ago

Rob, I think I understand your point about increasing size of local government will then want more space. This will require more staff to manage, maintain, clean. Instead of a new town hall it is more likely some departments will more out and we will keep using Victoria Hall. By-law moved into the old market building for example. Maybe if a new police station is built the existing one will be used to house some departments. As Cobourg grows it is reasonable the size of government grows to a certain point. We need to be careful about any increases which will require more taxes to pay for.

Reply to  Kevin
26 days ago

Not to mention placeing departments all over town so Communications between them will be worse and now we get to travel between departments only to find they are not working Remotely from home or anywhere else .
They need to post weekly schedules & Locations on the towns employees

Reply to  Rod
28 days ago

I know that you are being facetious, Rod (lol). You would think that after all these years they would have customer service figured out by now. More consultants – give me a break!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Bill
27 days ago

Mustn’t think for oneself these days as computerization/ electronics age has replaced human intelligence and need to use the brain in daily life and decision making.
Easier to push buttons /rely on “specialist experts” in decision making relieving all personal responsibility.
It’s very obvious just observing the cell phones permanently attached to so many hands of all ages regardless of daily activity.
Human walking “robots” now the norm.

Reply to  Bill Thompson
26 days ago

You mean Thos 50 yrs of age and under right .

Reply to  Sandpiper
26 days ago


Gen X. Born: 1965-1980. 44-59 years old.
Cohort following Baby Boomers. Many Gen Xers identify with Boomer Generation ideologies. So not all of those under 50! 😊 Many Millennials are a different breed.

Last edited 26 days ago by Leslie
28 days ago

I remember not too many years ago that a kiosk was outside the Victoria Hall, put there to answer questions about the Town Hall and direct people to areas of interest in the town. Just for the summer, I presume, but to actually put one inside the town hall is ridiculous. Direct people to where, can they not read the directions on the wall. This is not a “tourist town” anymore, with the ever increasing encampments, 3 I’m now told, and the fear of actually walking anywhere, who will want to visit our “feel good town”.

28 days ago

Does this mean the Mayor will answer my emails?
That By-law enforcement will answer the phone?

Reply to  Eastender
28 days ago

No. Took the Mayor six months to answer me and when calling the bylaw officer on an offence presently occurring, I was told they needed to open a file, when that was in force, they would be there. I was given a number to call other than the Town Hall and when I did that, the person said not to all him at that number again.

Reply to  Eastender
28 days ago

Sent in by-law complaint five months ago–have heard nothing from them!

Reply to  Aleta
28 days ago

Don’t fret Aleta, there is a new policy and a charter coming…..

28 days ago

Worked at a big company. Familiar with CRM.

An issue is given a ticket number and goes in a database. Usually the issue undergoes the first stage of misinterpretation when it is entered. As the ticket becomes stale, there is pressure to close the ticket, and often this is arbitrarily done by claiming the issue was addressed, when it really was not. Determined people will push for creation of a new ticket. And so it goes.

Reply to  Andre
28 days ago

I agree Run by the Town for the Towns own Purpose and Image Building– Not Results Tracking
If this was operated by an unbiased independent then positive results might be forth coming .
As it is suggested or offered it will only act as another step in the process of reaching the department official you want ,that can provide results or has not in most cases these days ie: Planning Dept.
Its coming to the stage you will no longer get past the lobby .

Reply to  Andre
28 days ago

Bang on.