HERTSMERE BOROUGH COUNCIL REPORT TO E-GOVERNMENT PROJECT BOARD

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1 APPENDIX B1 HERTSMERE BOROUGH COUNCIL REPORT TO E-GOVERNMENT PROJECT BOARD Document Reference no: TITLE A DISCUSSION PAPER REGARDING THE ROLE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM) SOFTWARE COULD TAKE WITHIN HERTSMERE BOROUGH COUNCIL 1. ACTION RECOMMENDED 1.1 Project Board supports the implementation of CRM technology and identification of CRM champions at member, director and officer level across the authority in order to assist in the realisation of its corporate objective of aiming to be Best in Class. 1.2 Selection of preferred supplier and clear implementation plan to be presented to Project Board for approval end of July EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / PROPOSALS 2.1 Background CRM has always been on the IEG agenda but with varying degrees of importance for each individual authority. In some authorities it has been a major initiative, particularly where call centres have been developed. In other authorities it has been sidelined in favour of other projects that have been perceived as more easily achievable and more in line with the authorities priorities. However, the emphasis has changed significantly over the past 12 months. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has recently published the document Defining E-Government outcomes for 2005 to support the delivery of priority services & national strategy transformation agenda for local authorities in England. Within this document the Government has proposed a set of e-government priority outcomes, which it expects each local authority, as part of its e-government investment programme, to deliver by December CRM is highlighted as a tool which can assist in the achievement of three of these priority areas. However, it is the key to achieving a fourth priority outcome, ie priority area number 14 Making it easy for citizens to do business with the council The ODPM has identified CRM technology as an indispensable building block in modernising local government, and helping councils streamline service delivery. To this end it has sponsored a national e-government project that aims to provide local government with the essential tools and know how that will enable accelerated modernisation plans. These are required to underpin the provision of a local public service that is customer-focused, open, accessible, seamless and consistent across all points of service delivery. The national programme was launched in March 2004 and as a result such information is available through the national website to all local authorities, based on the experience of other flagship authorities, including partnerships. It is anticipated that through the various products available on the website and networking with other authorities, CRM will be a manageable and achievable project for all local authorities in England. 1

2 2.1.3 CRM can mean different things to different people. In its broadest terms it should be considered as a methodology or approach which focuses on customers, their needs and wants and appropriate ways of satisfying those needs and wants. This customer-focused approach can be facilitated and enhanced by CRM software applications, although it is not essential to the CRM approach. However, in line with the ODPM emphasis upon this enabling technology, throughout this document CRM will refer to the software that facilitates the customer focused approach across the whole authority Whilst the Hertfordshire countywide partnership project provides several software products, CRM is not one of them. As a consequence each Hertfordshire district/borough authority will have to address its own individual plan with regard to CRM, although the possibility of working with neighbouring authorities who have not yet implemented CRM should not be discounted. 2.2 Why should Hertsmere Borough Council consider implementing CRM? Councils are faced with a new approach to the delivery of services to customers. Customer expectations are higher and complaining about poor service and goods is more prevalent. The Government has a commitment to improving public services and criticism of poor performance is a major function of government departments in the drive to improve public services. The quality of customer experience delivered by local authorities must rise to meet this enhanced service expectation, or be viewed as second rate. Whilst 100 per cent customer satisfaction is an unrealistic target (particularly where taxes and fines are collected, and the authority has a duty to decline certain applications for benefits), experiences to date suggest that in authorities where CRM had been adopted, nearly all of the customers can be satisfied nearly all of the time In the Council s Corporate Plan five key aims have been identified, one of which is to be Best in Class. A high priority area, which underpins the five aims, is described as: Aiming to deliver excellent service to all the Council s customers and developing the organisational culture to become more customer focused. In order to achieve this aim the Council is currently developing a Customer Service Strategy which outlines its goals and sets out targets for performance management. It is anticipated that CRM will support this strategy by assisting in addressing some of the problems the Council faces with regard to providing services to the customer. These include: inconsistent customer experience confusing contact information for customers technically skilled staff with inconsistent customer-handling skills and competencies spending significant time interacting with customers who could be dealt with by trained customer service staff absence of corporate image and joined up service delivery requiring the customer to contact various council staff in order to complete transactions via independent and discrete access channels (so that the structure of the organisation dominates Hertsmere s customer service ethos rather than the preferences of the customer) lack of ownership of customer enquiries, lack of accountability of staff to the customer poor consistency of data across back office systems because the customer will rarely, if ever, tell every service area/department of a change in circumstances patchy customer histories across back office systems as only some systems have capacity to record customer relationship information (e.g. contact history, nature of contacts, status of current service interaction, etc.) anecdotal evidence used to support proposed business cases and subsequent decisions, and to forward plan for when customer services will be required to support business processes most (e.g. Council Tax billing) Where data is captured, it is held in local and unconnected systems and is not necessarily used to promote organisational learning customers needs assumed rather than known. 2

3 CRM can help to optimise service delivery mechanisms, enable better understanding of the customer and provide a more joined up service. CRM can support a front/back office split that allows staff with the best customer facing skills to spend more of their time using those skills. Likewise, professional and skilled administration staff are largely uninterrupted by routine customer enquiries. There is a potential for savings to be made by consolidating common business processes into the front or middle office, examples include authentication, payments handling and eligibility checking The BVPI General Survey 2003/04, published in March 2004, indicates that there has been a decrease in satisfaction with the overall service provided by the Council since the previous survey conducted in 2000/01. Whilst the survey does not cover all services, complaints handling across the authority was particularly mentioned. A key benefit of CRM is that it enables an authority to better quantify, understand and therefore manage the entirety of the service delivered to its customers. These improved metrics support the reengineering of business processes and organisational structures. This would initially assist in reaching optimum efficiency and then to continuously refine service delivery in line with changes in customer needs, legislation and technology. Ultimately, if the Council is better able to measure what it does then it can make more informed decisions both at a corporate and individual level. 2.3 How could CRM be implemented in Hertsmere Borough Council? In the first instance objectives for the implementation of CRM should be set. The National CRM Programme sets out in its Vision document the following objectives: improve service to customers enhance customer satisfaction increased organisational flexibility improve performance and response to customers requirements enhance image of local authority understand customer requirements and priorities reduce costs of service, re-profile business in line with customer demand increase revenues (for those services for which authorities can charge) anticipate changes in customer requirements and provide services (and ways of accessing those services) applicable to that changing need The Council would need to consider its approach to implementing CRM. There are two main concepts, wide and shallow and narrow and deep. Wide and shallow is a workflow, service-based concept with limited automated integration with the back office services. This generally involves providing a CRM front-end facility with the capability of capturing the service request. In the case of routine general enquiries this request would be resolved at the first point of enquiry. Similarly, where Waste Services are likely to use CRM as their back office system, most enquiries will also be resolved at this first point of contact. More detailed enquiries would be sent to the relevant service area (back office) where the person in that department receiving the request will satisfy the enquiry and confirm its completion to the front office. The change experienced by the service teams consists of revising their business processes to facilitate this manual procedure for tracking and resolving issues. The customer sees an improved service as all enquiries are tracked to resolution through the revised business processes. Since it is the manual procedures that are being revised, a high percentage of service teams are more likely to be brought on board at this early stage. Any integration of back office applications would be addressed in the future as part of the next step. Narrow and deep generally involves providing a CRM front-end facility which captures the service request and can access the back office system to satisfy that service request. Under this scenario the customer service agent can handle a more detailed service specific enquiry. Interactions are automated between different service providers to achieve maximum efficiency. However, as with wide and shallow approach, some areas of services are again 3

4 supported via the workflow based service request concept to achieve a wider coverage of the one stop shop concept and gain early benefits. The business process improvement and change management is established with a combination of reengineered automation and manual procedures. It may be that a combination of both of these concepts will ultimately be adopted, however, the wide and shallow approach would be the best starting point for HBC There are several other factors HBC would need to consider when putting together an implementation strategy for CRM, these include: Implementing CRM is a continual learning process and needs to be approached in manageable stages. Not all service areas will be supportive of the project initially. Following demonstrations of CRM products, early likely benefits are anticipated if CRM software was made available to customer services front facing staff where the early collection of information on customer interaction could help to build the business case for wider implementation across the authority. The newly appointed Head of Waste Services has previous experience of CRM in another local authority, where it was successfully used to manage telephone calls to the service, as well as monitoring correspondence, complaints and providing management information used in developing the service. In this case, CRM effectively becomes the back office system. The Head of Waste Services is extremely keen that waste services should be used as one of the first areas for the implementation of CRM where its success in a contact centre environment can be tested to the benefit of the rest of the organisation. Based on the research study carried out for HBC entitled Understanding demand for new channels of contact with the Council published in July 2003, residents of Hertsmere were overwhelmingly in favour of the telephone as their preferred means of contact with the Council. CRM is extremely effective in a contact centre environment where routine calls can be resolved at the first point of contact. However, public reaction to call centres can be negative, suggesting that they dehumanise contact and leave people feeling they have been processed rather than helped. Whilst one contact number for all council enquiries would be the preferred vision for the Council s CRM implementation strategy, this would need to be carefully monitored in the context of the customer experience as each service area was brought on board. A corporate approach needs to be taken with regard to the implementation of CRM and support for the project at the highest possible level needs to be identified and well publicised across the authority. 3. REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION 3.1 The Council needs to demonstrate its commitment to improving services and continuous improvement in the level of customer satisfaction. The ODPM has identified CRM technology as the route to achieving this. 4. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS 4.1 The ODPM states required e-government outcomes, by December 2005, as follows: Systems in place to ensure effective and consistent customer relationship management across access channels and to provide a first time fix for citizen and business enquiries, ie using a common database, which holds customer s records, to deliver services across different channels, and enabling joined-up and automated service delivery. 4

5 All and web form acknowledgements to include unique reference number allocated to allow tracking of enquiry and service response. 100 per cent of enquiries from the public responded to within one working day. In light of the above, the Council does not have an option of doing nothing, and whilst individual service areas have systems that could record such information these would not be easily joined-up to provide information corporately. 5. PLANNED TIMETABLE FOR IMPLEMENTATION 5.1 A more detailed timetable would be provided in the event the project goes ahead. However, the highest level of priority would be given to implementing this for customer and waste services. 6. CHANGE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS 6.1 CRM is recognised as a change enabler that can support the modernisation and transformation of services, helping to develop customer focused organisations that put individuals and citizens at the very heart of everything that is done. CRM touches more points of the e-government model than any other form of enabler. It is an essential core building block in the Council s strategy to achieve targets for modernising government, achieving a real improvement in the quality of services and creating a customer-centric organisation that really meets the needs and expectations of citizens. 6.2 Over a period of time it is likely that CRM will have an impact on all areas within the Council. However, it is difficult to be specific about the actual change staff within the organisation will experience. This will depend upon the type of work they do and the service area they work in. Nonetheless, the most significant change seen within the service teams is likely to be the redefinition of their business processes (or workflow) as customer contact is initially processed by customer service agents and, where escalated to the back office service team for resolution, tracked to its point of completion and recorded. As the implementation timetable is developed, the Head of Organisational Development will work with staff in each service area affected, to ensure support, training and development is provided as required. 7. FINANCIAL AND BUDGET FRAMEWORK IMPLICATIONS 7.1 The detailed costs of the project cannot be established at this stage in time as a suitable supplier would need to be identified. However, based on some preliminary investigations of possible suitable suppliers, typical costs may be made up as follows: Year One Initial charge including site licence Implementation cost Support cost Membership of User Group Total Year Two Annual support of package 3 standard interfaces Membership of User Group Total In addition to the above, consideration would need to be given to upgrading, where necessary, individual computers where CRM software is to be installed. 5

6 8. HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPLICATIONS 8.1 None applicable for the purpose of this report. 9. AUTHOR 9.1 Jan Jukes Development Manager (Customer Services) Ext

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