CABINET CALL: By South Holland District Councillor Sally Slade
Earlier this month I joined the Customer Service Team on the ground floor of SHDC’s Priory Road offices.
I started in the cash office, where business was brisk. Senior Cashier Lynne and I barely had time to talk, but I established that this was a particularly frantic Monday.
The schools had only just returned meaning that parents were taking advantage of their new-found freedom to catch up with payments!
Lynne worked really fast, yet provided a sympathetic ear and a friendly face.
She has worked here since 1998 and has noticed a move towards debit card payments recently.
Although it is easy to pay online (visit www.sholland.gov.uk/doitonline/) some people still like to deal with business face-to-face.
A total of 76,914 payments were made face to face in the last financial year and 115,453 were electronic.
“It is a habit” Lynne explained, “People combine it with meeting friends or visiting the market, and they come from all over the district too.”
I moved on to sit with Rosie, the face of SHDC’s Reception for the last eight years.
She acts as a filter for all the other departments in the building and told me that she never knows what each day will bring!
I made myself useful by handing out rolls of green recycling bags, which left Rosie to attend to people in the queue.
She listened carefully and either directed them to other departments or passed them to an adviser.
Rosie has recently been joined by Dom, who is in charge of reception in the afternoons and every face-to-face enquiry comes through them.
Finally I observed Jenny, one of the Customer Service Advisors, who deals mainly with people who have benefits claims.
The staff here have to be discreet, as many of the cases are sensitive.
I was impressed by how calm and reassuring all the advisors were, especially when dealing with stressful situations.
Spending this short time with Lynne, Rosie and Jenny as they went about their business means that I now have a far better picture of daily life at the frontline of council services.