Access and Channel Management Strategy

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1 Access and Channel Management Strategy

2 Contents Introduction...2 Complementary Strategies...3 Principles...4 Local Context...4 How will we measure our progress?...5 Which access channels are we making changes to?...6 Ownership...7 Review period...7 Our Channel Strategies...9 Our Web Channel Strategy...10 Our Telephone Channel Strategy...11 Our Face to Face Channel Strategy...13 Key Risks...14 Annex A...18 Annex B

3 Introduction This is Devon County Council s Strategy for improving access to information and services for people in Devon. The document is designed to be used within the organisation and shared with our key partners. An accessible public facing document will be made available in We want people to be well informed about our services and those of our close partners so they can choose and access the services they need in the most efficient and effective way. We need to respond to the growing demand from our citizens to be able to help themselves wherever possible whilst targeting those who may need additional support in accessing and using our services. At the moment, our access arrangements do not provide consistency of experience and we often follow different processes depending on how people choose to contact us, which is why we need to make changes. We already have a range of innovative arrangements for dealing with our customers face to face, over the phone and via our website and there is much for us to build on. However, without more consistent arrangements and clear strategy and leadership in this area, we will not be able to improve the experience for customers or effect a shift to using the web which will bring significant savings for both users and the organisation. The strategy will support staff to provide a good service and positive experience for people whilst recognising and respecting individual needs and choices. We are entering a period of unprecedented budget challenge within the public sector, alongside the wider economic challenges to people in Devon. Alongside this we are embarking on rapid and fundamental change within the organisation and the sector. This means that we have limited resources and capacity with which to deliver this strategy. As a result most of the proposals are centred on using existing resources (from across the public sector where appropriate) more effectively alongside building on complementary, interdependent strategies e.g. Web Development Strategy and Information Strategy See Complimentary Strategies. A number of Access/Channel Development actions are already being planned and implemented as part of redesign and budget reduction work. It is important that strategic direction, consistency, core DCC business objectives and governance are wrapped around these developments. This strategy will do that and enable effective oversight because as a supporting strategy it reports into Programme Devon. Without this, changes will be ad hoc and lack direction. The realisation of this strategy will provide direct savings by helping people to move to cheaper ways to transact with us. It will also give us the opportunity to transform back office processes and in bolstering arrangements for feedback we will have more information about citizen s needs and 2

4 preferences; this will help us pin point areas for further development and scrutiny. This strategy and its implementation are fundamental in the development of a new organisational shape and culture for the future. The strategy recognises the changes the Council will be going through, and is designed to facilitate that change. We recognise the strategy may need to be adapted as organisational change is clarified and as a result clear review points have been identified to ensure this work remains agile and fit for purpose. So, the strategy aims to: Increase value for money, reduce costs and create opportunities for further back office efficiencies by better management of public access. Improve access and take up of web use for our services. Create opportunities to move use of our face to face and telephone channels to the web. Use data and feedback to identify opportunities for improving access, efficiency and our commissioning whilst gaining important insight from citizens and communities. Align and co-ordinate decisions about channels and their development. Support development of rationalised and shared public sector face to face arrangements at key locations in Devon, enabling a reduced property portfolio. Support the future organisational development and culture. Complementary Strategies Alongside clear alignment to the Strategic Plan, this strategy and its delivery through one of the Programme Devon Workstreams is well placed to support and benefit a number of interdependent emerging and established policies and strategies. These include:- Corporate Web Strategic Development Plan Business Applications and Solutions Strategy Corporate Information Strategy Corporate Estates Strategy Localism and placed based engagement strategy Fair for All (Equality Strategy) 3

5 Corporate ICT Strategy Strategic Commissioning Strategy Principles The Strategy is underpinned by our Principles outlining our commitment to citizens in delivering this work. We will work to deliver our core principles of Care, Community, Enterprise and Value. Specifically within this strategy, we will use available resources to: Make it simple for people to access information and services, make their views known, make complaints and give suggestions for improvements. Be open and transparent about the way we work and make decisions. Reply within a reasonable time to calls, texts, and s. Treat people with respect. In order to be more businesslike and efficient we will: Provide information and services via the most effective and efficient channels. Work better with partners in sharing resources and knowledge. Ensure that moving services to a different channel will not make accessing them more difficult. These Principles will be shared with our stakeholders and Partners. Local Context Providing information and services in a large rural county brings different challenges to those experienced in urban areas. In particular it is more expensive to reach many communities with direct face-to-face contact, and services struggle to provide cost effective solutions in more sparsely populated areas. Cheaper alternatives making use of centralised resources and economies of scale will be harder to achieve with limited broadband and phone coverage, poor rural road networks and limited public transport. The web is already by far the busiest channel across local government nationally in terms of services such as council tax, housing and benefits, generally provided at a district council level. This highlights that many local government customers are using this as their preferred channel; one national study reports that 71% of interactions with councils are transacted via the web, with Face-to-face at 10% and telephone 19% (GovMetric May 2010). Currently in accessing Devon County Council s services however, the phone remains the preferred channel reflecting perhaps Devon s demography and 4

6 geography but also current access limitations in providing very few opportunities to transact via the web. Our strategy therefore must ensure robust and consistent services available over the telephone but also a rapid development of our web channel to reflect the increasing demand to use the internet for information and completing transactions in line with the national picture of channel use. We recognise that face to face access to our services is preferred by a minority of citizens and indeed necessary for some. We should ensure single points of access in key coastal and market towns exist providing limited mediated support in most cases to the more developed phone and web channels. Support will be available to encourage the appropriate shift to more cost effective and efficient channels over time. This network of face-to-face provision will be developed from a range of partners and providers most appropriate to the location and needs of the community. Therefore this strategy represents the drive to make best use of emerging opportunities across the sector alongside likely property rationalisation and estate reduction. We do not have a single council-wide view of the number of transactions by channel or information on the relative satisfaction from users of each channel. This data will be vital to realise efficiencies and improve the experience for citizens. We will address this through increased use of information and customer feedback. How will we measure our progress? This will be done by monitoring the number of transactions by channel and by service and the satisfaction of users of those channels and services. This data will be captured and developed via existing systems currently utilised within our Customer Service Centre. Successful implementation should see a movement in the numbers of users from one channel to another (this is sometimes referred to as channel shift) specifically with more customers using the web to help themselves. We should note that people experiencing a good service that is easy to use are more likely to use it again, so an increase in numbers of users of a service could be anticipated. We will also develop data to monitor the cost of transactions per channel. We already have facilities that allow people who call the Customer Service Centre to give feedback about their experience (GovMetric). The same feedback facility will be added to our webpages so that we can measure this channel in the same way. In certain locations (Newton Abbot/Cullompton library development and Exeter Registry Office) we will be piloting a kiosk system to enable people to give us feedback after speaking to our staff face to face. This information should give us a picture of how people feel about the emerging access arrangements and shape the pace and direction of future development. 5

7 We will continue to develop our feedback policy and processes and will track specific feedback relating to access arrangements and service delivery. This additional data will give the organisation a single and agile view of the experience of our customers across all services for the first time and used strategically, gives leaders the power to regular monitor issues of culture, reputation and process impacting on customers and communities. We will be able to pinpoint opportunities for savings where bottlenecks of poor advice or service are identified, causing repeat contacts, by re-designing delivery and ensuring the web channel in particular provides suitable means of resolution and increased efficiency. Which access channels are we making changes to? The evidence gathered from data, consultations, surveys and other sources shows that there are three main ways in which most people wish to access our information and services: face to face, over the telephone and online. Whilst we recognise that there are other methods of delivery and channels of access, such as social media, our core web development should be our priority and therefore other channels have not been prioritised for this strategy at this time. However, we will continue to seek out and review future opportunities as they arise and make any decisions based around a sound business case. It is suggested that a separate channel strategy for Social Media, building on our core web development and aligned to our aspirations around citizen engagement, should be considered when this strategy is reviewed in Put simply we will:- Develop easy to use web tools to transact across appropriate high volume and key services Ensure the web provides the right level of accessible information and advice in order to establish this as the preferred information tool for citizens and staff Use all opportunities to promote the benefits of using the web for citizens. Continue appropriate development to the Customer Service Centre/Phone Channel Strategy to continue efficient and effective channel. Ensure cross sector single sites across key coastal and market towns are identified and available to host face to face transactions (and mediated access to the web and phone) Annex B shows the specific actions planned for delivery during the lifetime of this strategy 6

8 Ownership On publication Devon County Council s Access and Channel Management Strategy and its implementation should be a key responsibility of a senior leader in the organisation as part of any new organisational shape. KEY ACTION 2011/12: A single owner for this strategy and the outlined channel development should be identified. In the interim Simon Kitchen, as Acting Head of Organisational Development, will facilitate the development of the strategy and implementation as appropriate on behalf of the Chief Executive. Review period This Access Strategy covers the period of the current Strategic Plan Given the shifting backdrop of public sector reductions and organisational reshaping limited key actions have been highlighted for delivery within the first twelve months. This will be reviewed and the strategy updated as appropriate in January An annual report on progress against this strategy will be produced for Cabinet and Senior Leaders. Regular reviews of performance should be considered at appropriate senior office and member scrutiny forums (Currently Corporate Leadership Team and Policy Overview) KEY ACTION 2011/12: Following the Strategy update in January 2012 a public facing document will be produced and made available. 7

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10 Our Channel Strategies This strategy aims to improve the experience for citizens accessing our services by managing our delivery of channels in a better and more coordinated way. However we cannot overlook the savings to be made from people making better use of our web channel. The report Better Served: Customer access, efficiency and channel shift published by Socitm in February 2011 quotes average costs for contact per channel as:- Face-to face 7.40 Telephone 2.90 Web 0.32 The strategy will therefore focus on supporting web development as well as the means of facilitating the shift from use of more expensive channels to the web. We have already delivered some success in this area including: Library renewals and reservations (from face to face to phone/online) School meals (from face to face) School admissions on-line (from post). We recognise in line with our duties that particular channels will not be suitable for some people, or indeed may simply not be available to them. Therefore we will develop all channels proportionately and cost effectively, to ensure we provide practical options for people facing barriers such as language, access to the phone or internet, or the cost of transacting with us. Citizens using alternative channels will need to develop trust and confidence in what we offer. Therefore we will continue to monitor and report on the number of transactions and the experience of people to ensure that channels remain easy to use and to plot the movement of customers from one channel to another. Our monitoring will include an overview of the geographic, demographic and diversity of users of our channels allowing us to see the challenges faced by particular groups and significantly those groups or communities who are not accessing our services in a particular way. Key work areas to achieve channel shift 2011/12 (In addition to delivery of Web/Phone & Face to face strategies) KEY ACTION 2011/12: Use customer feedback to improve the range and relevance of information available on the DCC website and via other channels KEY ACTION 2011/12: To develop a marketing strategy to encourage web enabled citizens to use the web as their primary way of interacting with the Council 9

11 KEY ACTION 2011/12: Monitor usage of all channels and satisfaction by channel and service. Our Web Channel Strategy The website will allow 24/7 access to information and services in a convenient, consistent and user-friendly way, providing a secure and trusted transactional site, a seamless experience and a gateway to Devon, not just the County Council There are currently a number of issues with accessing information or services via the DCC website. These include outdated information, difficulty finding or navigating to the required pages, an inefficient search facility, a lack of clear information about key services and failure to use the home page to stress our strategic priorities. If this is the first point of contact for someone needing information about a specific service, they are unlikely to find the relevant information easily. There are a large number of services that are not currently represented online apart from a page showing contact numbers; there is potential to consider offering some of these as web transactions. The Corporate Web Strategic Development Plan proposes a number of measures to improve internet access for customers and this will be adopted as the primary mechanism by which we deliver our Web Channel Strategy. These improvements include: Creating new, more agile infrastructure and migrating the existing content to it Allowing for future migration to different methods and new technology Enabling transactions through the website Creating an Extranet to include partners websites Consistent processes for all transactions and queries, whether through the website or other channels Making more data freely available Key work areas to develop internet access Promote the website as the main access point for information and transactional services Ensure that the website meets accessibility standards Place 100% of transactional services online Where practical we will use feedback from users to help with this development and scoping. The Corporate Web Strategic Development Plan helpfully outlines some initial actions to progress the organisation to the improvements outlined above. These include: Review of our key customer groups to ask them what they would like to see on the web. 10

12 Scoping exercise to determine the likely cost and availability of funding to undertake all subsequent actions. Review and rationalisation project for all web content to optimise the information available on the web and to make it easily searchable using simple search terms Review the web content of other LAs which are considered to have excellent websites. However to meet the aim of the Access and Channel Management Strategy further work is urgently required. Key work areas to achieve our Web Strategy 2011/12 KEY ACTION 2011/12: Appoint a senior sponsor for Access, and further Champions within the organisation by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Identify an owner for the delivery of our Web Strategy by July KEY ACTION 2011/12: Identify up to 10 high volume areas of service currently not able to be transacted via our website by April An action plan to implement appropriate solutions will then be drafted by June KEY ACTION 2011/12: Provide Quarterly updates on transaction numbers and satisfaction to Senior Leadership to plot progress and highlight opportunities for development. Please refer to the Corporate Web Strategic Development Plan to view further specific related actions and priorities. Our Telephone Channel Strategy Our aim is to deliver a quality initial response, resolving calls where possible, during opening hours appropriate for the citizen and the council. Customers value the simplicity of a limited range of contact numbers, where they can be sure of reaching someone who can help them. We aim to migrate all appropriate, high level initial enquiries to the Customer Service Centre and supporting a limited telephone number strategy wherever practicable. Our award winning Customer Service Centre in Tiverton is well regarded and delivers well across a range of services. However not all services within the council are making use of this consistent, corporate approach and as a result our response to calls differs across services. The Customer Service Centre has the skills and infrastructure to meet high demand alongside web provision and is well placed to take on additional high volume services. Migration of services, just as for services migrated to the web channel, should ensure that our process up to the point of delivery to the customer is efficient and consistent across each of the channels. We should remove the complexity to allow colleagues with generic skills to resolve most 11

13 issues, and more importantly people can ultimately serve themselves when appropriate. As with our Web Strategy a number of detailed actions are outlined below to make best use of our telephone channel however in order to meet the aims of this strategy the following key actions should take place. Key work areas to achieve our Telephone Strategy 2011/12 KEY ACTION 2011/12: Appoint a senior sponsor for Access, and further Champions within the organisation by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Identify an owner for the delivery of our Telephone Strategy by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Identify up to 5 high volume areas of service currently not able to be transacted via our published suite of numbers/customer Service Centre by April An action plan to implement appropriate solutions will then be drafted by June KEY ACTION 2011/12: Provide Quarterly updates on transaction numbers and satisfaction to Corporate Leadership Team to plot progress and highlight opportunities for development. Mobile phones The increasing use of mobile phones presents additional opportunities for customers to access our services, particularly in relation to SMS messaging. Devon s network coverage and our own use of an 0845 number range increases the cost for some users compared to using a landline. Mobile specific opportunities will be explored and deployed where cost of development and likely uptake makes this worthwhile and our number range will be reviewed. Current use of mobile technology and applications is patchy at best. Some good examples exist however; such as our Trading Standards team using SMS messages to send alerts and updates to remote farms. A contact number for SMS is published in DCC literature, and texts to this number are delivered to the Customer Service Centre as s. Unfortunately they are sometimes brief messages in txt spk which give little clue to the function or service that the customer wishes to contact. Specific marketing around how to access and make best use of this channel is required to build on our existing SMS provision using keywords. Development around other mobile functionality such as web based applications will be limited until the core elements of the channel strategy are delivered. 12

14 Our Face to Face Channel Strategy Currently we provide a diverse range of public access points across the county. Most are focussed on the delivery of specific services and do not provide the opportunity to access the full range of Devon County Council services or those of our key partners. Whilst we have many buildings open to the public we do not have a consistent and comprehensive face to face offering. This strategy requires the use of the many existing Devon County Council or partner buildings and staff to be rationalised to provide single access points in accessible town centre locations of the 28 market and coastal towns across Devon. These locations will be promoted and will offer access to information and advice and allow citizens to complete transactions with face-to-face support. Citizens will be able to access information about all Devon County Council services as well as those of other key local partners. Citizens seeking services not immediately available at that location will be referred to, and where required supported to use, more appropriate telephone or web channels on site. These will be delivered through dedicated terminals for phone and web. Safe and private space will be available on site for calls or meetings requiring confidentiality. In addition regular events and surgeries will take place on site delivering specialist advice and information from specific service providers from the council and other partners. These events will be considered and developed for those services/functions where a reasonable business case can be made, balancing recognised need against cost of provision. Staff at these locations will be strong customer service led practitioners, rather than being advisors linked to limited service provision and will receive specialist support in dealing with people with additional needs. These access points will be branded to reflect their broad delivery. Interactive terminals at which customers can provide feedback will be available and provide essential evidence for the ongoing development of this work. It is anticipated that this revised presence in these locations will provide appropriate access for customers but where evidence shows that other communities are not able or willing to access these sites, further outreach, including linking with local partners such as the Connect initiatives, can be explored. From our existing portfolio libraries are some of the most physically accessible buildings in town centres, as well as being places that are regarded as safe and trusted to provide good quality information and advice. They generally have more visitors than most other public buildings and can provide facilities like internet access conveniently. To this end we will use forthcoming developments at Cullompton and Newton Abbot to test this model and way of working. The development of these access points will create opportunities to revitalise existing buildings and their offering based on the needs of communities, customers and complementary partnerships, but will also offer the chance 13

15 for rationalisation of property at locations where several buildings are open offering services from the same or similar organisations. The strategy in facilitating close working arrangements with partners alongside property rationalisation will complement any work to co-locate and co-deliver face to face services across the public sector. Key work areas to achieve our Face to Face Strategy 2011/12 KEY ACTION 2011/12: Appoint a senior sponsor for Access, and further Champions within the organisation by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Identify an owner for the Face to Face Strategy by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Agree to the Cullompton and Newton Abbot development projects adopted as pilot sites for the adoption of this strategy by April KEY ACTION 2011/12: Provide Quarterly updates on transaction numbers and satisfaction to Senior Leaders to plot progress and highlight opportunities for development. Key Risks This strategy and its implementation represents significant development in the way we provide access to services to our citizens and as such presents a number of challenges to Devon County Council as an organisation and risks to the delivery of the strategy. Digital Inclusion We aim to ensure our web provision is fit for purpose so that the public will want to use this as a preferred channel. However whilst the national picture shows significant usage for local government services, still over 40% of the UK population do not use online channels, including websites such as NHS Choices and DirectGov. Exclusion from access to digital channels matters to these users, especially since this group includes socially excluded and hardto-reach groups who are likely to have an increased need of public services. It also matters for the delivery of efficient public services; when people cannot access a service online they will usually access them via other means which are generally more expensive for both customers and organisations. How we aim to address this:- Providing access to the internet and telephony at Access Points in key towns will help to bridge the inclusion gap as will our development of our telephony strategy overall. Using data to understand transactions and satisfaction will help to identify geographical or diversity gaps in users of our website. 14

16 Advancing the Devon Network in partnership and our joint bid for super-fast broadband to extend web access across Devon. Addressing Avoidable Contact A high proportion of contact with most organisations represents the organisation s failure to do something, or to do something right, that makes it necessary for the citizen to contact the organisation more than once. Had the original task been completed correctly and on time there would be no need for the customer to make repeated contact. These instances are frustrating for the customer and inefficient for the organisation, and represent a significant waste of resources on both sides. Delivering services in partnership or through other providers may increase the likelihood for avoidable contact, particularly if we are not clear in communicating our responsibilities and duties. How we aim to address this:- Moving transactions to the web or phone should remove unnecessary steps for the citizen and provide clear expectations for them, removing the need to contact us again. Using data to understand transactions and satisfaction will help to pinpoint poor service and where processes are falling down. Improving our communication around our access arrangements will help customers speak to the right people first time. Improving systems will ensure decisions and progress are communicated quickly and clearly to customers and colleagues. Resources As previously outlined we are encountering an unprecedented period of budget challenge and finding additional money and resources to deliver this strategy may not be possible. However if the key aim of our organisation is to deliver services, either directly or by commissioning other providers to do this, for the benefit of people on Devon, the realisation of this strategy is a fundamental element in that delivery. Part of the reason for reviewing public access is the drive to be more efficient and businesslike. In streamlining our arrangements we aim to make savings in some areas which should allow us to re-invest in the activities that underpin this strategy. How we aim to address this:- Make best use of existing resources, by integrating existing teams to respond to feedback, satisfaction data and FOI requests Co-ordinate corporate customer service and access resources Re-invest some of the savings from moving to cheaper access arrangements back into development of web and telephony capacity. Re-invest elements of property rationalisation savings into identified dedicated single face to face contact points 15

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18 Culture Successful organisations place customers and the learning from their experiences at the heart of delivery and service development and redesign. Whilst we have much to be proud of there is still work to do. At present, the level of service is inconsistent depending on who you speak to and how you contact us. We need to recognise that recent developments have superseded our customer service standards, and that they are now due for a review. How we aim to address this:- Review and re-publish our public commitment to customers and our own internal customer service standards Ensure performance reporting around feedback and satisfaction is provided to senior managers and Members Appoint a corporate sponsor for Access Review and re-launch a network of Access and Equality Champions Deliver required icasework/govmetric Development and update Customer Feedback Strategies Undertake training of key customer facing staff in Access Points 17

19 Annex A Conclusions of Better served: Customer access, efficiency and channel shift Conclusion 1: Councils can make significant cost savings through better management of customer access. The case studies in this report illustrate the scope for efficiency gains and service improvement from centralising customer management and making this a corporately managed programme. Birmingham City Council s business case for its Customer First Programme anticipates 197.4m of cashable benefits over ten years, while Tameside, a much smaller metropolitan district, is looking at savings of 1m over the next four years, just from better management of the front office. Since 2007, Surrey County Council has reduced the cost of phone and web contacts from 79p to 49p per Enquiry and since 2007 has saved 175,000 in its contact centre and an additional 150,000 elsewhere by reducing avoidable contact. The case studies show how, with centralised management, and full data about types and volumes of enquiries available for analysis, scope for savings can be realised, by reducing avoidable contacts and encouraging channel shift, principally to the web. Conclusion 2: Cost reduction comes from reducing volumes of phone and face-to-face enquiries. The focus in volume reduction needs to be on the phone and face-to-face channels. If volumes fall, fewer people are needed to service them and staff can be redeployed or reduced. However, if web enquiries rise because of channel shift or just because the web is easy and available 24 x 7, the cost of these additional enquiries is almost zero. All our case studies have seen or anticipate falling phone and face-to-face and rising web contacts. Falling face-to-face volumes deliver the largest cost reductions because these enquiries are most expensive to service Socitm estimates suggest that on average, a face-to-face enquiry costs 7.40, a telephone enquiry 2.90, and a web enquiry around The cost per web contact falls as volumes rise. Councils like Surrey and Tameside have shown the potential to reduce call volumes without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Hugely different levels of contact volumes from similar councils suggests there is major scope for improvement. Conclusion 3: There are three main ways of reducing call and face-to-face volumes without reducing customer satisfaction. First, more enquiries should be resolved at the first point of contact. This can be done by introducing professional customer service approaches and 18

20 common standards, so that initial calls don t generate further internal and external calls while the enquiry id still in play. Second, work to reduce avoidable contacts by providing more and better information at appropriate points in the customer journey, setting service delivery expectations and delivering to these expectations. These measures will choke off enquiries that are seeking clarifications or confirmation of when a service will be delivered. Third, do everything possible to get people to self-service their enquiries via the web (including simple information requests and complex transactions). Conclusion 4: Customer channels must be managed together to reduce volumes Reducing phone and face-to-face enquiries can be most readily achieved where all customer channels are managed together. There will be a number of impacts: Shift is actively encouraged from one channel to the other. Customer advisers on phone and f2f channels can play a key role in making customers aware of self-service options. Problems in one channel that might become avoidable contacts in another can be dealt with quickly eg customer advisers can advise the web team and service departments about failures of web content and usability that create avoidable contact and inhibit channel shift It is clear who owns the customer. Conclusion 5: Full data from all channels is needed to manage customers efficiently: It is unlikely to be available where channels are managed separately Socitm s researches suggest that few councils can easily say: how many enquiries are coming in through each access channel which services generate the most contacts through each channel which enquiries or services create the most avoidable contacts which services are generating high call and face-to-face volumes and might be the best candidates for volume reduction and channel shift to the web Clearly, where all customer contacts are managed in one place, this sort of data is much more likely to be available. Where customer handling, including the website, is outsourced, there may be particular difficulties in accessing the data needed for effective customer enquiry management. Conclusion 6: Collecting customer data for analysis to identify improvement is difficult, but not impossible. Our research shows that few authorities are capturing anywhere near comprehensive data on customer contacts, except where this is easily automated, as with web and interactive voice recording (IVR) channels. Even with a professional contact centre in place, many councils have allowed some services to run their own customer contact independently, so that these contacts are difficult to include in analysis. Some calls will continue to go direct into the back office, some for good reasons. However, as our case studies show, robust customer data can be captured, providing that there is 19

21 the will to do it, and that the right technology (CRM, call/customer logging, web analytics and IVR), training, and staff commitment is in place. Conclusion 7: Benchmarking highlights variations in management of customer access and opportunities for Improvement. Our investigations for this report show a wide range of practice in the way that councils handle customer contact through the main channels of face-to-face, phone and websites. This is most easily seen in the results from our Channel value benchmarking cohorts, where we have collected data about how customer contact is organised, including the number of face-to-face outlets, phone contact centres and websites, staffing levels, management and other costs associated with these main access channels. Volumes of enquiries vary widely too. This can be seen in the CVB data but also in the call volumes data from the Cabinet Office s Performance Management Framework. Not surprisingly, there is also huge variation in cost. Here we are reliant on CVB data, which shows us that while one Scottish unitary is spending 18 per head of population per year on customer contact, others in the sample are spending less than half that. Conclusion 8: Data analysis will reveal opportunities for front- or back-office collaboration in cost-saving process improvement. As well as identifying simple solutions to avoidable contacts, like improving information around a service, analysis of data from the front office can identify services where process improvement might reduce enquiry volumes or lead to a self-service solution. This report describes process improvements for free school meals, school applications, waste and street scene services, where a process involving several steps or paper forms has been simplified and enabled for self-service. With some services there are challenges to overcome about authentication and entitlement checking, but in practice, the biggest challenge may well be resistance to change. Conclusion 9: Maximising customer access efficiency requires an excellent website integrated with all other customer channels. It is no good setting out to reduce avoidable contact or effect a major shift to self-service if the website itself is not up to the job. If a customer cannot do what they set out to do on the website, they will lose confidence and revert to traditional channels. Data from the Website take-up service shows that between 8% and 35% of web enquiries to council websites currently fail. This report also demonstrates that it is as important to improve the finding of information on a website (57% of visits) as it is to improve online transactions (18% of visits). All the case studies featured in the report have improved their website as a precursor to, or in tandem with, efforts to channel shift and reduce avoidable contact. The website should also be well connected with other channels so that contact centre staff receiving enquiries through other channels are able to suggest changes to the website that may reduce avoidable calls or visits. 20

22 Conclusion 10: Customers need to be made aware of services on the web and be encouraged to use them. There is an ongoing shift to online information and services as more and more people use the internet at work and at home. The rise of the mobile web means more and more people with constant access to the web. However, this natural migration to the web, helped by the 24 x 7 convenience factor, will not do it all, and particularly in the short term, local authorities will need to make customers aware they can do things online and maybe encourage them to break ingrained habits, particularly among longterm, heavy users of council services. It may also be that some removal of other choices will play a role, especially at a time of financial austerity. 21

23 Annex B Suggested Channel Development Actions through the life of the Strategy Fixed Telephones REF T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 Action Optimise use of in call pre-recorded menus Redraft Customer Service Standards in relation to Telephony/ Review current call answering performance standards (e.g. 80/20) and revise as appropriate/ one-stop or one-pass call handling Scope Call recording requirements within CSC Review cost/benefit of deploying a system which will allow Those who answer published phone numbers to have access to relevant transactions history Explore opportunities to use outbound calling effectively, e.g. debt recovery, overdue books, replies Review the implications of migrating to the 0345 platform where appropriate (will improve access from mobile users too) T7 Review opening hours appropriate to needs of customer and business (e.g. 8-8 for CSC) T8 T9 Review effectiveness of current media used to publicise numbers Work with partners to enable us to share telephony hardware and resources Mobile Telephones REF M1 Action To develop appropriate applications for mobile phones including simple transactions such as fault reporting and simple information provision 22

24 M2 M3 Explore opportunities for in and outbound SMS activity, e.g. for reporting street lighting, overdue books Market SMS option and keywords Face to Face REF F1 F2 F3 Action To identify the most appropriate locations in Devon s 28 market towns to provide a single access point for DCC and other services. To agree an portfolio of provision which would integrate services within one single access point Scope Access requirements for agreed sites F2F/Web/Phone F4 Scope Hand-off/sign post requirements for agreed sites F2F/Web/Phone F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 To pilot provision within new library and hub developments in Cullompton and Newton Abbot Document Terms of Reference for Access Points and agree with providers and partners To implement a workforce development programme to ensure high quality and integrated customer services in all Council Access Points.. To enable and encourage digitally excluded to gain skills and confidence in using services online To seek opportunities to share face-to-face provision with other organisations, including District Councils. Undertake branding and comms work around new sites 23

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