We’ve posted before about how people like to engage with councils via their website, and about the frustrations caused by using those sites. But until now, it’s been hard for organisations to directly judge how usable their website is — and costly too.
However, that’s now changed. LocalGov Digital, a network for digital practitioners in local government, has built a platform that crowdsources views on site usability. Anyone can test a council’s site service, and users can search for their local council to see what other people have said about it too.
It’s an excellent idea, which will ultimately allow councils to see how their sites and services compare with others. The platform is here.
One of the early findings released by Socitm from its upcoming Better Connected 2014 review of council web services, is that users of council websites are twice as satisfied by their experience when using desktop PCs compared to when they use a mobile device.
Socitm’s data showed that the use of mobile devices to access council websites is increasing rapidly, with up to 36% of visits in December 2013 being made from mobiles, compared with 23% back in Spring 2013 – meaning a 50% increase in mobile access in just over 6 months.
We’ve blogged before about how important a smooth mobile experience is for users accessing online services. When North Kesteven District Council introduced an online application and payment process for subscriptions to its new opt-in Garden Waste Collection Service, using Firmstep’s AchieveForms, over a quarter of those who signed up online did so from a mobile device (the full story is here).
At the rate of growth of mobile access, it may soon become the main method for accessing services – so closing the satisfaction gap will become even more critical, if channel shift programmes are to succeed.
In a new article on LocalGov, Karey Barnshaw, manager of customer engagement for North Kesteven Borough Council describes the success of its automated, online green waste collection service, which uses Firmstep software to drive applications. She also describes how the Council plans to build on this success by moving further services online, and by migrating away from a traditional CRM to Firmstep’s cloud solution for local government, helping the council transform the way it engages with citizens.
Read the full article here.
Here’s a final reminder that this Friday, January 24th, we’re hosting Firmstep’s Delivering Channel Shift Success event in Edinburgh, focusing on deliverables from Scotland’s Digital Future Strategy and showcasing how a third of UK Local Authorities are achieving success with their Channel Shift programmes using Firmstep solutions.
The event will cover the key factors behind successful channel shift, including community engagement and migrating from legacy CRM systems to single platforms. It will also feature a keynote from Ian Parker, Director of Business Tranformation at South Ribble Borough Council, in which Ian will explain how his council has applied the Firmstep Customer Experience Platform to all aspects of the council, the impact this has had on services, and how it is helping them to achieve bankable savings of at least £500,000.
Full details and registration are here: http://t.co/qgDMVRILFm
There’s still a lot of discussion about the types of device that citizens will use to access council services. Will they use PCs, smartphones or tablets? Or all three? A recent report suggested that smartphone users are less than half as likely to engage with local government websites as PC or laptop users.
However, other reports have highlighted relatively high levels of smartphone and mobile access: in Spring 2013, Socitm’s Better Connected briefing showed that 23% of visits to council websites were made on mobile devices. And some Firmstep customers have reported higher than anticipated take-up of services from mobiles.
When North Kesteven Council introduced an online application and payment process for subscriptions to its new opt-in Garden Waste Collection Service, using AchieveForms, 52% of subscribers signed up online, and 23% of those did so from a mobile device (the full story is here). This shows the importance to councils of having self-service channels that work on mobiles as well as conventional PCs. Perhaps the discussion should be less focused on mobiles, and more centred around easy online access.
It’s the time of year when we start to make plans to be implemented during the year ahead. For many council IT teams, some of those resolutions would include saving costs and boosting service efficiency in their processes. One of the keys to achieving this is better integration of front-end and back-end systems.
As our integration partner NDL found in a survey back in October of this year, almost 90% of senior IT staff recognised that a lack of integration is a barrier to delivering services online. 70% of councils said that re-keying data gathered by their CRM systems, and over half of councils re-key significant amounts of data captured by online forms. This duplication of effort on what should be largely automated transactions is a drain on resources and a barrier to service.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way, as councils such as Burnley BC have found from deploying Firmstep solutions. In many cases, organisations can boost efficiency through better integration of systems, and realise further savings in licensing and support costs by decommissioning legacy CRM products – as well as enhancing service provision.
With these readily-achievable benefits, perhaps better systems integration could be one of the easier new year resolutions to keep. From everyone at Firmstep, have a good Christmas break and best wishes for 2014.
On January 24th 2014, we’re hosting Firmstep’s Delivering Channel Shift Success event in Edinburgh, focusing on the key deliverables from Scotland’s Digital Future Strategy and sharing how over a third of UK Local Authorities are achieving success with their Channel Shift programmes using Firmstep solutions.
As well as covering the key factors behind successful channel shift, such as community engagement and migrating from legacy CRM systems to single platforms, the session will feature a keynote from Ian Parker, Director of Business Tranformation at South Ribble Borough Council.
Ian will explain how his council has applied the Firmstep Customer Experience Platform to all aspects of the council, the impact this has had on services, and how it is helping them to achieve bankable savings of at least £500,000.
Click here for more details, and to register for this event.
Burnley Borough Council has realised significant cost savings and is driving channel shift with Firmstep’s Customer Experience Platform, which is replacing its existing CRM and web content management systems.
Using the platform, Burnley is offering a growing range of online services through its Your Burnley self-service portal, giving residents a secure, easy-to-use method for accessing local services, personal information and transactions from PCs and mobile devices. The portal works together with the Council’s new website, which launched earlier in 2013.
Sharon Hargraves, Head of Customer & IT services at Burnley Borough Council, said: “The solutions available on the Firmstep Platform have made us more efficient in both our front and back office functions, helping us to make significant ongoing cost savings and giving us the opportunity to improve the way we deliver services to local residents.”
The full story is on Digital by Default News.
On Wednesday December 4th, we will be hosting FormFest 2013, our first ever hack-a-thon. AchieveForms developers from a range of organisations will be joining the Firmstep team in our London office to get hands-on with our new, faster, simpler AchieveForms.
Participants will also become part of a limited group of beta testers that get to provide input on the first release of the new version.
The agenda for the day is simple - we will form into groups with different projects. Anyone can propose a project. At the end of the day, each group will present their results and the best solution will be crowned the winner.
If you’d like to come, please send your details, including t-shirt size and dietary requirements to email@example.com or better yet, fill out this form.
Next Thursday, 28th November, we’re hosting a webinar with a difference. Representatives from two local authorities will be presenting on how they have successfully transformed citizen services. They will share their insights into how they achieved success, offer their experience and advice on best practice, and answer your questions live.
Karey Barnshaw, manager of customer engagement for North Kesteven Borough Council will talk about the success of their fully automated, online green waste project, and how they are building on this success via G-CLOUD procurement to move away from a traditional CRM and fundamentally transform the way the council engages with citizens.
Ian Parker, head of customer services, revenues and IT for South Ribble Borough Council will discuss how the council has applied the Firmstep Customer Experience Platform to all aspects of the council for many years. He will talk about the significant impact the platform has had on its business and customer service and how they’re now on track to achieve bankable savings of at least £500,000.
Register now to hear how these organisations are enjoying real benefits and savings.