As customer interaction and access requirements have evolved, there’s more demand than ever for local authorities to provide digital services.
Barnet Council prides itself on consistently providing an outstanding service to its customers and aims to be at the forefront of local government in its delivery of digital services and customer experience to citizens and businesses.
The council is encouraging all customers who can, to avoid the queues and ‘self-serve’. By taking a customer-focused approach, the council wants to reduce customer frustrations, ensure a quicker, smoother and more successful journey and make all-important cost savings at a time when budgets are tighter than ever before.
To achieve this, Barnet Council developed a Customer Access Strategy as part of their Customer Transformation Programme and has worked with Capita’s digital and customer experience experts to transform and improve the digital experience offered by the council to its customers.
Supporting the delivery of Barnet Council’s Customer Access Strategy
Capita worked alongside Barnet Council’s Customer Transformation team to deliver a programme of work over two years, through four workstreams to support this goal, including:
- to deliver more online transactions that integrate with the council’s internal database and processes
- to design and deliver a new look website for Barnet Council
- to improve services and drive digital take-up to encourage low cost channels (web) in preference to traditional (face to face and telephone)
- to address digital inclusion to help customers work with the council online, and to help them use the internet in their daily lives.
What we did across the four phases
Developing digital services in consultation with customers
We consulted with 5,000 customers about what they wanted from a new council website. After 300 hours of staff workshops, 250 hours of citizen focus groups and 1,000 hours of user acceptance testing, a new-look customer-centric website was created. We conducted several resident workshops with participants across different ages, genders and technology knowhow to gather information from end users on how the council could improve customer experience using digital services to ensure that nobody was left behind.
We supported targeted communications to address the key concerns which act as a barrier to digitally-able customers transacting with the council, namely concerns about data security and privacy. We then developed the website to comply with best practice AA accessibility standards, ensuring residents with visual impairments are able to access and interact with the Council in the same way non-impaired residents are able to.
Improving the customer experience
We introduced new communications features and enhanced security to ensure a better customer experience. This also made it easier for Barnet Council to make changes across the platform as and when they needed to. We made it possible for customers to track their requests and historical interactions with the council, enabling proactive notifications to customers as and when their status changes. For a more streamlined login, we introduced social media authentication for customers on ‘My Account’ using Facebook and Google logins – removing the need for another password to be remembered.
The improved functionality also allows customers to order, schedule and pay for a number of new services in one smooth transaction online and we streamlined waste, recycling and problem report forms, which has resulted in customers taking less time to complete their online interactions. Customers can also save forms mid-way through completion and return to them later securely.
Encouraging digital shift
We developed a communications strategy to drive behaviour change supporting key channel shift for high volume service areas and enabling demand reduction initiatives. This included carrying out communication audits in key service areas, reviewing messaging, stationery, and processes to ensure alignment with the digital by choice agenda. We also supported new contact centre telephone menu structures to improve signposting to digital channels.
There has been an ongoing smooth transition of existing account holders to the new ‘My Account’ platform without interrupting access to their existing service subscriptions. 18,764 accounts were migrated, and an email campaign was launched targeting 30,000 users who had been inactive for over 18 months, with 11% conversion rate.
- The new website site now provides quicker and easier access to citizens’ top tasks, improved navigation and search functions and an easily adaptable homepage to focus on key issues such as elections when they occur. Work has also taken place to improve the relevance and consistency of content across the site.
- Call volumes have reduced by 5% despite significant operational changes, e.g. new bin collection rounds across the entire borough.
- The insights gained from the workshops and campaigns informed decision making when designing customer transaction journeys and the website.
- All measures put in place supported an uptake in web transactions and website usage versus reduction in face to face and telephony transactions.