A GOVERNMENT award for service excellence has been awarded for the fourth time to Swindon’s Register Office, with this year’s score the highest yet achieved.

The office in Euclid Street, which conducts marriages and civil partnerships, and registers births and deaths, among other services, has 15,000 visitors a year and is one of only a handful in the country that has received the Customer Service Excellence award.

Public services that apply for the award are tested on a variety of measures, with a particular focus on the delivery of services, their timeliness, the information provided, and the professionalism of the staff and their attitude.

The process includes a visit by an inspector to see the work of the office first hand, which includes conversations with users. The inspector also contacts people who have visited the office in the past year for their comments.

The office employs 17 staff and has been operating in its new premises within the Civic Offices for two-and-a-half years. In the past year it has conducted more than 700 weddings or civil partnership ceremonies, and registered approximately 4,600 births and 2,500 deaths.

Swindon Council leader Coun David Renard said: “This is an excellent result and it’s testament to the hard work and professionalism of the staff.

“The Government has identified Swindon as having one of the best-run, most efficient and welcoming Register Offices in the country.”

Among the specific tests for the Register Office were:

  • Customer satisfaction, including how many complaints are received as a percentage of the people seen each year (this year only three complaints have been received out of approximately 15,000 visits);
  • How the public are informed about the Register Office’s services and performance (the Register Office publishes an annual report on its internet pages each year);
  • Whether the office complies with national General Register Office rules regarding appointment availability for those who wish to register a birth, death or marriage/civil partnership (the Swindon office was compliant in all areas);
  • Whether customer service is central to the work of the office and whether this is a corporate commitment;
  • Customer privacy (the office demonstrated that it uses private interview rooms and has secure computer systems);
  • Staff politeness, attitude, training and understanding of customer needs; and
  • The comfort and cleanliness of the office and the arrangements for disabled access.

Of the 51 categories examined, which can be judged ‘compliant’, ‘partially compliant’ or ‘not compliant’, the office passed all except one as ‘compliant’, with only one area assessed as being ‘partially compliant’ – the ability of callers to get through on the telephone at the busiest times.