Chelmsford City Council’s customer services manager was recently interviewed by Computer Weekly on how it is centralising provision of its services, and deriving early benefits from moving key services online.
In just 6 months, two of the Council’s most popular services (applications for residents’ parking permits and senior railcards) have achieved nearly 50% channel shift, enabling service staff to better assist residents without internet access, helping to deliver improved services across all of its public communications channels.
The full story is here.
The public sector portal PublicNet has run the latest article from Firmstep CEO, Brett Husbands, showing how councils and LAs can approach channel shift to ensure they deliver significant, ongoing efficiency gains and public benefits, using online channels in real time to achieve true service transformation.
The article describes how to achieve iterative channel shift, in which people using either call centre or in-person services can receive initial assistance via those channels, and be guided towards online self-service options. In effect, gently encouraging people online, even while they are using other access channels.
As examples, London Borough of Bexley’s self-service portal gives easy, intuitive access to over 30 online services and in less than a year, it has moved 18% of transactions from its call centre to online, giving an estimated saving of around £40,000 per year – a figure that is still growing. North Lincolnshire Council had 1.5% of households create self-service accounts within a month of its portal going live, without any publicity. And Chelmsford City Council achieved nearly 50% channel shift in two key services in just 5 months from a standing start.
New research just published by UKAuthority.com has revealed some interesting differences between the public requirements of channel shift, and authorities’ perception of what they should deliver. The survey of 173 public sector bodies showed steady development of channel shift across all service areas, but revealed some “significant concerns” including a lack of detailed strategy for channel shift on the part of many public sector organisations.
Just 46.5% of respondents said that their organisations have a formal strategy in place for delivering channel shift, although local government seemed slightly better prepared than central government.
The key to boosting the pace of channel shift is ensuring a consistent user experience, according to over 85% of respondents, with measuring user feedback seen as a key activity.
Respondents’ top five service priorities for channel shift were council tax, rubbish and recycling, planning, social care and housing; while the most frequently visited by the public were rubbish and recycling; libraries; job vacancies; leisure facilities and schools.
In terms of barriers to channel shift, integrating legacy IT systems was the biggest issue, with 59.0% of respondents agreeing that legacy systems are difficult to integrate with new online services.
London Borough of Bexley is transforming its customer services using a new online self-service environment developed using Firmstep’s AchieveService and Self portal solutions. The environment was developed by Bexley together with its IT partner Steria, and gives residents a common interface to securely access local services using a range of intelligent e-forms.
This is driving channel shift across a number of key services, including waste and recycling, highways, and school admissions, with many others in development. Whether customers go online to the portal, call in by phone or visit in person, the same e-form is now being completed, providing consistency across all access channels and reduced maintenance overheads. The online portal enables the public to access over 100 of the Borough’s services with nearly 1,800 self-service form requests being made per month.
Mark Ramus, customer service web development manager at the London Borough of Bexley said: “Using AchieveService and Self from Firmstep has enabled us to develop and deploy highly efficient, automated public services that link with our back office systems for a true end-to-end experience. This provides our residents with greater access to services and generates ongoing savings by reducing call volumes and manual data entry which feeds into the Council’s overall savings strategy.”
Bexley introduced online handling of waste and recycling requests in March 2012, and reports that close to 30% of routine waste and recycling transactions have now channel shifted to online. Read more about the deployment here.
North Lincolnshire Council’s new self-service portal, built using Firmstep’s Self, has enjoyed considerable success with local residents in the two months since its launch.
The Council’s new portal features 50 of its most commonly-used services online – from waste collection, parking penalty charges, to free school meals and job applications. Already, over 1,400 people have set up a self-service account, and nearly 2,000 e-forms have been submitted via the portal.
The portal is live at: www.northlincs.gov.uk/quickclick
East Riding has shared a form which allows citizens to send website general enquiry forms. In the last two months of 2012 the form received over 6000 submissions, showing how simple it is to fill out. Popularity keeps increasing and is proving to push the public to choose this channel over calling the council.
Demo and download the form here to see if you can cause a channel shift too!
Do you need to include a section in your forms to comply with government equality monitoring? Would you like a really easy way to do this with your forms? By collecting equal opportunities data online, Councils can on average save between £2-£6 per submission, depending on the ratio of online forms that would have otherwise been filled out on paper or by a CSA. Liverpool City Council has created an excellent example of such a form which we have made generic for everybody to use. This has been shared on our Forms Catalogue to demo and download. We’ve also supplied some simple instructions on how to copy the form into a section of any new or pre-existing form. There’s even a video to talk you through it. More here.
Firmstep are sharing another great time saving technique with a simple but effective form to help you search through your forms and processes. This will make it so much easier; searching for a form by name with the form location, links to design view and status updates etc. being available to you during the search stage. Finding the right form has just become a lot more efficient!
To check out more click here
The set up is really simple, you just need to import this form into your platform site and once you have configured the email template you just publish the form and note the URL.
We’ve provided some useful instructions and even a video to talk you through it. Check out more here.
Northamptonshire’s ‘Need Help Finding Childcare’ form is fast becoming a very popular form, now averaging 350-400 submissions a year. It has been saving the Council a lot of time and money and now it’s been shared with you. Feel free to check out more on our wiki, where you can demo or download the form. We’ve even provided a video to run you though how it works and some useful instructions to get it up and running on your AchieveForms platform.
Click here to find out more