CUSTOMER focus is good at Christchurch council and the town's residents are highly satisfied with civic services, says the Audit Commission.

But the independent report also claims that more work needs to be done in customer care such as the time taken to reply to correspondence, as well as ensuring improvement "wish lists" become a reality.

On a scale of zero to three stars, the commission's inspection team has given Christchurch two.

Commission senior manager, Martin Robinson, said: "The council focuses on the needs of the community and this results in people being generally satisfied with its services and able to access those services in a variety of ways, such as personally, by telephone and electronically.

"In order to improve, the council should develop a strategic view of what it wants to achieve for customers so that it can be sure it is addressing the most pressing needs, including those of minority communities."

The inspectors have made a number of recommendations.

These include more council consultations with locals on standards to make sure services are focused on their needs.

Another is the suggestion that efficient services and better value for money would be boosted by developing a clear business case for the "one stop shop".

Cllr Malcolm Mawbey, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: "I am delighted that the Audit Commission has recognised the council's high standard of customer focus but obviously disappointed that they consider there are uncertain prospects for improvement.

"My feeling is that they may have misjudged this council's enthusiasm and determination to improve. However, their comments are helpful and the council has already accepted the challenge by reviewing its approach to customer focus in the light of best practice."

A customer services manager has been appointed starting next month to oversee changes in the reception area, he added.

First published: August 23, 2005