Embracing Digital Change
A digital ambition
As a local authority serving 240,000 people Salford City Council are pursuing a ‘Digital Salford’ ambition, a central theme of which is their ‘digital first customer strategy’. Against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving technological world and continuing budgetary pressures, this strategy sets out how the council aims to improve customer service and target and prioritise services to those who need them the most.
Identifying the operational challenges
In moving towards this strategy, the council’s Revenues service needed to identify their operational challenges. These were around an increasing backlog of work, staff resources, recovery, but also driven by wanting to provide a better customer experience and to be able to offer a more focussed service to deal with complex customer cases. As a result, digital process automation was considered as a way to address these challenges.
Creating the case for change
Working closely with ICT, the service consulted with the relevant stakeholders across the council including operational and senior managers, customer services and procurement, gaining political support along the way. Building a solution in-house was considered, as were various products offerings, but given the technical complexity around revenues & business rates integration, Govtech’s webCAPTURE service was chosen after a full business case analysis.
Sue Virgin, Revenues Operations Manager, Salford City Council
“Working with Govtech was incredibly easy. Govtech understood our questions and issues, which is not always the case with other suppliers. It felt like one project team, and post-project launch, they remain incredibly supportive”.
Successful project delivery
Salford implemented the solution over the year-end period and took a flexible approach to testing by not setting out strict rules but wanting to be more open to feedback. With a slow scale launch over a month, and the contact centre advising customers to self-serve, the project delivery was successful.
Within the first year of using Govtech, Salford has seen a dramatic
change. With around 7,500 queries per month, the revenues service now
has over 4,000 transactions that don’t reach a member of staff as they are
being automated by webCAPTURE. In particular, simple changes and
Direct Debit transactions are performing at levels close to 100%, with very
little manual intervention needed.
This proves that customers are using Salford’s website to self-serve, and
the team continue to monitor this and make minor changes to further encourage the use of this facility. In turn, it has freed up time so that staff can do more meaningful work, in line with the objectives of the ‘digital first customer strategy’. It’s also seen a shift in staff attitudes to using new approaches to delivering public services.
The council’s progress has also been recognised nationally, with Salford being awarded both ‘Digital Council of the Year’ and ‘Overall Digital Leaders 100 Winner’ at the Digital Leaders 100 awards in June 2018.
Continuous digital improvement
Not content to sit still, Salford are looking ahead to further improve their customer offer. This includes an early pilot of Single Person Discount reviews which is already showing a financial saving, and they have plans to better manage the high volume of student and landlord transactions. Constantly reviewing their online offer, they are also looking for greater integration with other systems so that the customer journey is quicker, easier and better.