A report is published today by the Department for Work and Pensions which presents findings from a qualitative study of the Accessing Jobcentre Plus Customer Services (AJCS) model following its national roll-out. The AJCS model aimed to manage the flow of customers in Jobcentre Plus offices by directing those without appointments to the most appropriate contact channel, thus helping staff to identify and assist vulnerable customers more quickly and effectively.
The research involved in-depth interviews with frontline Jobcentre Plus staff, an observational study of the AJCS model and a focus group with members of the National Jobcentre Plus Customer Representative Group Forum.
The key findings of the research are:
- Jobcentre Plus staff respondents thought that the AJCS model had achieved its aim of helping to manage the flow of customers in Jobcentre Plus offices by directing those without appointments to the most appropriate contact channel. Many said that the increase in customer volumes during the economic downturn would have been unmanageable without the AJCS model.
- Staff respondents observed that, following the introduction of the AJCS model, the majority of customers used self-service channels such as Customer Access Telephone Points. Some staff suggested that customers preferred using such channels as they were able to contact Benefit Delivery Centres directly.
- The approach to identifying vulnerable customers was found to vary across offices, with staff using a combination of Jobcentre Plus guidance and their own judgement. The Customer Care Officer role was also found to be implemented inconsistently, with customer representatives citing examples of behaviour that is not part of the job description such as providing benefit advice and restricting access to offices.
- The research also highlights potential areas for improvement which relate to Benefit Delivery Centres. For example, customer representatives were critical of the use of an 0845 number which can be expensive for mobile phone users. However, customers have free access to Benefit Delivery Centres via the Customer Access Telephone Points.
Notes to Editors:
- The DWP research report ‘Accessing Jobcentre Plus Customer Services: a qualitative study’ will be published on 1st July 2010.
- The research was conducted in June 2009 and involved ten Jobcentre Plus offices which were located in five Jobcentre Plus Districts.
- The research was conducted by the International Centre for Social and Public Policy at the University of Nottingham. The report’s authors are Deidre Duffy, Dr. Simon Roberts and Professor Bruce Stafford.