Archive Service Customer Care Policy
The Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service is fully committed to putting the customer at the heart of service delivery and this is one of the key strategic objectives in our Service’s Vision, 2015-2025. We are also committed to providing a courteous, fair and equal service, which does not discriminate in any way against any existing or potential customer.
We recognise that any existing or potential customer has a right to expect a responsive, professional and accessible archive service. We aim to provide and promote access to our services, irrespective of the age, ability, gender and geographical location of our customers.
2. Standards of service
The standards of service which our personal and distance customers can expect to receive are published in our charter leaflet, The Archive Service and You. This can be obtained from any of our service points. It is available on our website and on the notice boards at all our record offices. It is attached as an appendix to this document.
We regularly monitor our performance against our standards and the results are published annually in hard copy and on our web site. If dips in performance occur, we always strive to address these by taking appropriate action to improve upon our performance.
3. Staff training
Staff training is very important to us in helping our staff to deliver a good service. All members of our staff are trained in customer care issues, as part of their induction training on joining the Archive Service and also in regular follow-up sessions. Members of staff who work in our reading rooms are also regularly trained in the use and application of archives for aspects of research. This helps to widen their knowledge and enables them to provide a much more informative service for Archive Service users.
Our customer care training involves developing in our staff a sensitive awareness and understanding of a number of issues, including those which may affect people with disabilities and people from minority groups. It also involves increasing awareness among all our staff of equal opportunities issues.
We review performance in customer care in our annual personal performance reviews with staff.
4. Staff identification
Members of staff, working in our reading rooms, can be readily identified by the name badges, which they wear, and by the name plates on the counters.
Members of staff, working in the reading rooms, will routinely give their names when answering telephone enquiries.
When answering postal or email enquiries, members of staff always sign their name at the bottom of the reply, thus taking full ownership for the response and providing a contact name in the event of any difficulty.
5. Confidentiality and respect for privacy
Some of the records, which are held by the Archive Service, may contain personal and highly confidential information. Similarly, some of the enquiries which we receive from members of the public may be of a confidential or sensitive nature.
Archivists dealing with such records are bound by their professional Code of Conduct, which is laid down by the Archives and Records Association. For non-archivist members of staff, issues of confidentiality are addressed as part of the induction training when joining the Archive Service.
We will make every effort to provide a private area if you wish to discuss an enquiry of a confidential nature.
6. Working to improve services and facilities
The Archive Service continues to work towards improving its services for customers with disabilities.
All our premises are accessible for wheelchair users and have disabled access lavatories.
Hearing loops and equipment to enhance the reading of original documents are available at our record offices.
Information about our services is available in large print and braille format. Our information leaflets and archive catalogues are produced according to the RNIB Clear Print Guidelines.
We can bring a portable hearing loop to talks to external groups, in order to assist people with a hearing impairment.
We will be happy to discuss your particular needs with you in order to determine how we can best provide a service for you.
We are committed to maintaining opening hours which extend beyond standard office hours, in order to meet the needs of as many people as possible. At present all our record offices provide non-standard opening hours.
7. Information about our services
We have a wide range of information about our services, which is widely available for the public. In additional to general information about visiting and using the service, there are information leaflets about: preserving and depositing archives; learning activities and provision for schools; events; volunteering; and online information.
We provide information in a variety of formats:
- Standard information leaflets in hard copy, available at all our access points, by post or from local libraries and museums in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent
- Information in braille and large print, available from all our access points
- On our web site at https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives/
- We offer a translation service for any member of the public who wishes to obtain any of our published information in another language
Our staff are encouraged to explain our services verbally wherever possible and we encourage users to ask for clarification if they need to do so.
8. Listening to our customers
We strongly encourage our users to make their views known about any aspect of our services. This can be done by completing a comments form, available at all our service points or on our web site, or by speaking directly to a member of staff. We use the comments, which we receive, to adapt and improve our services wherever possible.
We also have a formal complaints procedure, which is published in as Information Leaflet. It is also available on our web site, in large print or in braille.
Every year we publish details of the complaints, compliments and the constructive criticisms, which we receive and the action, which we have taken in response to them.
9. Fees and charges
The Archive Service is free at the point of personal use. We do make charges for additional services, such as supplying copies of documents, research and publication.
Our fees and charges are published on our web site and on our notice boards. The scale of charges is reviewed annually but this does not mean that blanket increases in fees are automatically applied. We consider every fee carefully and assess the costs of providing the service in the context of the financial climate. A reduced fee for research is applied for disabled customers.
We consult our users through a group of users which meets annually drawn from users across the Archive Service. The representation on the group changes regularly and we welcome expressions of interest in joining the group. We consult a wider group by post on specific issues.
The Friends of the Archive Service are also regularly consulted about our plans and proposals for service improvement.
We participate in the national Survey of Visitors to British Archives, which is held every 18 months under the auspices of the Public Services Quality Group. We publish our results from the survey in our e-newsletter.
We regularly carry out short focused surveys to seek the views of users about specific issues or changes and we always publish the results of these surveys.
11. Innovation and improvement
We use the results of consultation, customer comments and complaints to make changes to our services. We hope that the changes, which we make, represent real improvements for our users.
We also constantly look for ways of introducing innovation and improvements to our services within our available budget. Our staff are encouraged to suggest service improvements by a variety of means.
We recognise that many people wish to access information and popular records at the touch of a button. We are continuing to expand our online catalogue and are working to develop technological solutions to accessing archive sources.
This policy will be reviewed every three years.
Reviewed 2016; factual amendments July 2019.
Appendix 1 - The Archive Service and You
1. Our role
The role of the Archive Service is to locate, collect and preserve archives relating to past and present life in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent and to make them available to the residents and its visitors.
Our services include:
- storage, conservation and management of archive collections to national standards
- reading rooms to enable people to consult archives for research
- copying and research services
- published and widely accessible information about the archive collections in our care
- talks and exhibitions about archives
As a service we recognise the importance of equality of opportunity and we are committed to the provision and delivery of fair and equal services to all members of the community.
2. Our commitment to you
You can expect an archive service which:
- is courteous, informative and responsive
- is accessible
- consults its users
- strives continuously to improve its services to the public
- monitors and publishes the details of its performance against
- aims to put things right if they go wrong
- provides value for money
- is committed to training and developing its staff
- co-operates with other organisations to enhance service delivery
Copies of our policies on customer care, preservation, reprographics, and access and the Code of Conduct for readers can be obtained from any of the addresses listed at the end of this page.
3. Your commitment to us
We ask you to:
- Show courtesy and consideration to our staff and others at all times
- Observe the Code of Conduct and Procedures for Users for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service
- Recognise that at the busiest times there may be a delay before we can help you
- Tell us if things go wrong – a full copy of our complaints procedure can be obtained from any of the addresses listed on the back page of this leaflet
- Help us to preserve Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent’s archival heritage
4. Our Standards
If you visit Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archive Service, you can expect:
- A friendly welcome, from clearly identifiable staff
- Assistance in using the reading rooms
- Assistance in identifying the records necessary for your enquiry
- Availability of original documents and microforms within the limits of the Archive Service’s security, conservation, and access policies
Production of original documents
- We aim to produce documents within 20 minutes of your request being made. If undue delays are likely to occur, we will keep you informed.
- We will aim to produce documents kept in out storage or specialised storage within 2 working days.
Postal and email enquiries
- If you write to us about the services we provide, or about the contents of collections, you can expect a reply within 5 working days.
- For more complex archival enquiries an acknowledgement will be sent within 5 working days and a full reply within 20 working days.
- If we are unable to assist you because we do not hold the records required for your research, we will always try to suggest an alternative line of enquiry for you to follow.
- We aim to answer all telephone calls promptly and courteously.
- Our staff will always be happy to give you their name and will endeavour to help you to the best of their ability.
- If we are unable to assist you because we do not hold the relevant records we will always try to refer you to an appropriate organisation.
- Our standard is to notify you of the completion and cost of your copies/microform prints from the receipt of your order within:
- 8 working days at Staffordshire Record Office
- 6 working days at Stoke-on-Trent City Archives
- Our standard is to notify you of the completion and cost of your research from the receipt of you order within:
- 15 working days at Staffordshire Record Office
- 15 working days at Stoke-on-Trent City Archives
- You can expect a report detailing the results of the research and suggestions for follow up research, where appropriate.
Talks about archive
- We aim to respond positively to requests from local organisations for talks about the archive collections in our care.
Acquiring and preserving archive collections
- We will actively seek to acquire and preserve archive collections relating to past and present life in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent within the terms of our Collecting Policy and make them available for people to use
- We will respond to all approaches relating to the deposit or donation of archive collections
- We will accession all new collections and send a final acknowledgement and receipt from the office of deposit within 12 days of their receipt
- We will provide specialist archive storage to prescribed national standards as required, administered and inspected through The National Archives
- We will conserve original archives to prescribed national standards and within the terms of our Preservation and Conservation Policy
- We will catalogue collections to prescribed international cataloguing standards and will make such catalogues available online
- Copies of our Terms of Deposit, Acquisitions Policy and Preservation and Conservation Policy are available on request.
5. Contact details
Head of Archives and Heritage
Staffordshire Record Office, Eastgate Street, Stafford ST16 2LZ
Tel: 01785 278370
Staffordshire Record Office
Tim Groom, Senior Archivist
Staffordshire Record Office, Eastgate Street, Stafford ST16 2LZ
Tel: 01785 278396
Stoke-on-Trent City Archives
Chris Latimer, City Archivist
Hanley Library, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3RS
Tel: 01782 238420 Fax: 01782 238499