Do you want to engage more with your citizens, yet fear that the easier you make communication, the higher the demand will be on your staff?
Relax – the evidence shows that doesn’t happen.
Our clients are working proof that councils can deal with more enquiries with fewer staff. They have seen that citizens will happily take on more council admin tasks in return for improved levels of customer service, something that they have grown to expect from interactions with the private sector.
A single portal to access all council service enquiries can dramatically change the contact between the citizen and the council, reducing the need for in-bound call handling and authentication, and providing useful insights with every interaction.
Regular and relevant contact with citizens can also help build new relationships and a mutual understanding between the council and the citizens they both work with and serve.
With great technology and well-designed solutions which understand the user journey, IEG4’s ethos is to create software that enables digital transformation which is simply effective for everyone; that means councils, their service partners and the citizens they serve.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
IEG4’s OneVu Customer Engagement Portal allows a council to receive a service request; process it in accordance with configurable workflows; and, to set out the expected completion dates for defined activities. Customer expectations can be effectively managed with no intervention required from staff.
Some councils have estimated that prior to implementing IEG4’s OneVu Customer Engagement Portal, at least one in three in-bound calls were from citizens enquiring about the status of their service requests. The volume of in-bound calls points to a communications vacuum and a failure to set out, and manage, service level expectations.
Even something as simple as a digital acknowledgement of the service request gives comfort to the citizen that their request has been received. It buys the council time to complete the activity without having to deal with further calls. By prioritising the digitisation of their highest volume transaction requests, OneVu clients have quickly seen a 30 - 40% decrease in their in-bound call volumes.
Effective digital design can reduce staff call-handling efforts in other areas. For example, payment-handling, including the capture of customer information, was previously the domain of call centre operatives. Some clients have seen a 45% reduction in such calls since the introduction of digital services and the integration with payment services.
What if we make it too easy for people to report issues?
With an effective digital solution, the linear link between a growing number of customer service requests and more customer service agents can be broken.
In its place, comes engagement with a new digital customer. A digital customer who can be harnessed to become part of a new workforce and empowered to work on the council’s behalf. At the same time, a customer who is grateful for the improved service quality they receive and for the convenience of being able to get things done at a time that suits them.
In designing a mobile-first, next generation customer engagement platform in OneVu, we focused on delivering an excellent end user-experience. It is effective on any user device with a modern browser; we let the end-user decide what works best for them.
By understanding what customers seek from each interaction, and ensuring that the response returned satisfies those needs, many requests can be automated and resolved without the need for staff intervention. Open APIs to back-office processing systems allow many more customers to retrieve the information they seek to answer their queries and serve themselves.
Service requests which require separate physical checks can be directed automatically to the appropriate team for processing. When further interaction is required (e.g. for the customer to provide supporting evidence for a claim), two-way communication occurs between the council and the citizen. Case identification details are passed in the background to automate administration.
Harnessing digital memory to prevent duplication of activity
By offering more services through the same engagement platform and encouraging customers to report incidents through it, councils can identify and ‘ignore’ duplicate requests more easily.
For example, a citizen leveraging OneVu may decide to report the existence of a pothole and send a picture of it. Location data can be captured automatically and fed into an incident map, allowing the council to see whether the pothole is being reported for the first time or not. Automated communications with the citizen can reflect the status of the incident and set time expectations on when the next stage will occur.
A similar incident map can be made available to the citizen, who might then see that the issue, whether it be for a pothole, fly-tipping or any other location-based incident, has already been reported and, as a result, decides there is no need to report it again to the council.
Councils can use the engagement platform to build up ‘corporate memory’ and reduce demand for services, or the misuse of services, by using the platform to ensure that policies are communicated consistently and, if necessary, repeatedly.
Some of our customers are working with their waste management contractor to improve the efficiency of their bin collection. By integrating OneVu’s workflow technology with the contractor’s in-cab technology, the waste management supplier can respond to missed bin requests and give reasons as to why a bin may not have been collected, e.g. waste contamination or even that the bin lorry has yet to arrive at the waste round location.
Councils can articulate policy and educate their customers via the platform, so that those whose issues cannot be dealt with on that occasion are given alternatives. Options presented are at the discretion of the council.
Well thought through digital solutions, which are paired with timely and effective communications, can both reinforce customer usage of the digital channel and encourage more service requests to be made. It is evident that digital automation dramatically increases the volume of requests that a council can handle, boosts council productivity and improves service quality. A win-win situation.