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26.06.14

Improving online take-up through CCP

Source: Public Sector Executive June/July 2014

Patsy Mellor, assistant director of public access at Milton Keynes Council, discusses the benefits of adopting a Customer Contact Platform to improve productivity across its services. David Stevenson reports.

Two years ago Milton Keynes Council took the strategic decision to implement a comprehensive review of its customer services. The resulting Public Access Transformation strategy, which had a key objective to create significant improvements in online e-enablement and take-up by citizens, then led to the procurement, selection and implementation of a Customer Contact Platform (CCP).

A contact management solution for both council employees and citizens, CCP is designed to provide a simple and efficient workflow across all contact channels. Patsy Mellor, assistant director of public access at Milton Keynes Council, told PSE that when the council’s cabinet adopted the Public Access Transformation strategy a tender process followed with Asidua, a Microsoft Gold Partner, winning the contract.

“The Public Access Transformation strategy was about improving customer satisfaction, using technology to improve customer interactions. In addition, we had customer insight that was telling us 60% of our customers wanted to access our services online,” she said.

In the two years since, the unitary authority and Asidua have worked closely on integrating the CCP, which has enabled deep, two-way integration with multiple back office systems as well as supporting the current IT system. However, it is a process that has taken time to develop.

For example, the project has involved a re-design phase, which focused on the individual needs of each service area. This has also run alongside a slightly longer implementation phase – which is split into several sub-phases.

Not a one-size-fits-all approach

“Re-design came to an end in April 2014, when it was due to end, but the implementation phase, obviously, is slower as we’ve got to implement the technology behind the recommendations from each of the service business cases,” said Mellor. “It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, we work with each individual service to design their approach using Asidua.”

The implementation phase is broken down into four sub-phases, the first of which has been implemented: Phase one Environmental, neighbourhood services, regulatory unit, highways and parking; Phase two – Housing management services, school transport; Phase three – Housing benefits and council tax; and Phase four – Social care, libraries and parking revisited.

Mellor said: “In Phase one we used the existing call centre for environmental calls and implemented the Asidua CCP into the system. We tested this on the employee side first to make sure we had it working smoothly before launching it out to the customers.

“The reason we chose environmental as phase one was that it was one of our more transactional services as it covers waste, bins, potholes and landscaping, all of which are live and online.

“So far the response has been fantastic, even though we have only just started the campaign – we have already achieved a 20% channel shift. This is just customers finding the service without our help. However, what we have to bear in mind is that the environment contact centre is very transactional; it’s not like your hearts and minds services.”

But the local authority, which is responsible for more than 230,000 residents, told PSE it is not aiming to move people who have “in-depth emotional enquiries to go online”. It stated that there are still services where face-to-face interaction is required.

Savings

And, now, following the re-design work, Milton Keynes Council says it is delivering savings and improved customer service through a direct reduction in manual handling of requests by council staff and improvements in its internal processes through the CCP.

During the CCP implementation programme, which is expected to last another 18 months, the council will look at whether it is achieving the channel shift it expected when each service goes live.

It has been forecast that through CCP adoption, the performance across the authority’s contact service centres is expected improve with a 50% reduction in e-mails and a 30% reduction in calls.

Call answering times have already been reduced significantly and its contact centres now have less than 5% abandoned calls.

Mellor said: “We have invested £1.9m in the technology with the initial aim of achieving £3.7m in savings, but now we have completed the re-design – and once all the phases have been implemented – the savings have been re-calculated and we expect to save £4.2m.

“However, it is important to remember that the main focus area of our CCP adoption has been to support resident access to services online, while making technical improvements, so that we improve overall customer service and satisfaction.”

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