Alex Cook, a Customer Contact Centre Team Leader, provides a behind-the-scenes look at what she and her team do:
The Customer Contact Centre (CCC) is usually the first point of contact with HM Land Registry for many of our citizen customers and no two days are ever the same. Whether enquiries are by telephone or email, we can be asked about almost anything from whether a customer can bury his wife in the garden to how to register an acre of the moon! We are even affected by the weather – the storm in October resulted in us receiving over 3,400 calls and 800 emails on one day alone, mostly questions about who was responsible for a fence that had blown down.
The CCC is staffed by experienced staff from the Wales & Durham offices, most of whom have over ten years experience in dealing with land registration issues. Our experience means that even when we cannot provide an immediate answer to a question we will usually be able to point people in the right direction.
On an average day, we answer around 2,400 calls, around 1,700 of which are from members of the public and the rest from business customers. We also deal with around 250 emails a day and set up accounts for our professional customers (mostly solicitors) so they can lodge applications electronically rather than by post.
Our biggest challenge is that people expect us to be able to give them legal advice, be an enforcement body, resolve disputes, or even repair their fences and cut down fallen trees! As we cannot provide legal advice (or have chainsaw licences) we must advise customers to consult with someone who does. We can only advise on HM Land Registry procedures and processes and inform people how to obtain the relevant information.
One of our most common enquiries relates to boundaries. It is a common belief that we will be able to confirm the ownership or responsibility for boundaries. Unfortunately, unless there was something written into a deed (and there often isn’t), we will hold no information. Usually, we refer people to our guidance about boundaries and if there is a dispute, we refer them to other organisations or suggest they seek legal advice.
While we know we can’t please everyone all the time, it’s gratifying to know when a customer has found our assistance helpful. We record all the compliments and criticisms we receive so that we can recognise where we have dealt with a situation well and also where we need to improve. As the overall HM Land Registry customer satisfaction score averages at 97%, we hope we’re getting it right most of the time.