Public Sector Focus

14.11.16

Cut costs not jobs – three ways to boost your frontline services

James Passingham, chief technical officer at Foehn, explains how the public sector can protect jobs and deliver better for less through the transformation of services.

Public sector cuts delivered by the last government show every sign of continuing. But despite the years of austerity and digital transformation, public bodies are still adjusting to changes such as repeated headcount reductions and refocusing of teams. Surprisingly perhaps, there are still practical ways in which the public sector can develop more cost-effective and productive services, while helping to make the case for protecting front line staffing.

In particular, one solution offers real scope to enhance those essential, but sometimes neglected, building blocks of public services: cloud-based phone systems and call centres. So many government bodies have invested in these digital channels that, although many potential improvements are not in themselves headline-grabbing, provide cumulative efficiency gains, including:

  • Delivery of transformative ‘next stage’ cashable savings
  • Low-level alterations to call centre set-ups to better focus resources
  • Use of data to show service teams’ role in delivering cost-effective services

 Next stage telephony savings

Every government department or council is wrestling with rising workload, budget constraints and ways to share scarce assets with partners in the future as existing service models are rethought. But because there have been so many reorganisations – seeing customer care staff moved to new teams with different voice and data communication tools – there are, paradoxically, new opportunities emerging to refresh staff know-how and gain greater efficiency from front line telephony.

Part of this team refresh or upskilling involves public organisations working anew with expert cloud telephony providers to transform their service options and cost base.

Many service managers are underwhelmed by their first-generation IP phone systems’ long-term performance and flexibility, a trend compounded by ICT and customer service departments needing to quickly scale up lines for new services, or rethink telephony when existing offices and buildings are consolidated. Knowing that radical change is needed, some public bodies have switched to more agile, cloud-based IP telephony, reducing costs over existing supplier deals by as much as 40%. These transformative savings enable extra funding to be made available for staffing. 

Frontline efficiency

Second, some public bodies are making tactical, but still vital, alterations to better focus frontline resources on customers. Many service teams may be too busy dealing with constant calls to see the wood for the trees. By contrast, those ICT and supervisors that carve out some time to carry out a review of call centre traffic, with an expert telephony and call centre provider, can start to better understand incoming call trends or track different channels.

 

This smarter management of rising workloads can be extended. Many public sector organisations, like their private sector counterparts, have been almost dazzled by the ability of their IP telephony and contact centres to manage voice calls, email and accept social media. However, many service managers have under-valued or simply lacked time to refresh their ICT and supervisory teams’ ability to administer system tools and interfaces to best manage team workloads.

A telephony specialist recently provided hands-on training for supervisors on changing call schedules and smarter routing through the system interface. Teams can now respond to fluctuating demand, providing extra lines or direct specific calls to their best-qualified teams. Such changes will help achieve more cost effective delivery of voice, that Cinderella of customer service that still accounts for 60-70% of incoming contact.

Data reveals the workforce contribution

Thirdly, teams that make small-scale but clever refinements to their call and contact centres can capture usage data that both streamlines workloads and gives a more accurate picture of contact teams’ vital role in maintaining our public services.

Working with trusted telephony providers and using phone systems based on cloud and open source, public bodies can mix existing telephony applications with CRM tools and case management systems. Multiple and previously difficult-to-assemble data sets can be aggregated and distributed for customer service agents to improve interactions with residents and customers. In addition, service teams can more easily display workload priorities data and workload targets on wall boards, or route calls, based on aggregated customer information.

Joining-up crucial voice and data applications will bring a halt to service agents repeatedly having to look up customer details, held in different locations and databases, and improve the whole team’s efficiency.

Using data more dynamically also brings about faster and more accurate departmental reporting and performance evaluations. This clearer picture of frontline voice operations that emerges will show senior public executives the real contribution that hard-working service teams are making; teams that can be helped to become more efficient, engaged and productive.

Cut costs not staff

Public sector bodies face more tough years but reduced costs, higher-performing, and better-valued customer service operations will help ensure effective local service delivery.

Read the case studies and get more information on delivering better for less with modern cloud based phone systems.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Councils must start preparing for the Autumn Budget now

19/04/2018Councils must start preparing for the Autumn Budget now

This year will provide the opportunity to develop conversations about local government finance in order to ensure councils stop running on empty,... more >
Get what you pay for, and only pay for what you get

19/04/2018Get what you pay for, and only pay for what you get

Matthew Sparkes, deputy director for financial services at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on the public sector benefits of the brand-new Spe... more >
Employment support must work for all

19/04/2018Employment support must work for all

London’s new Work and Health Programmes (WHPs), which have now gone live, will help thousands more people get into work across the capital,... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Women are scaling the heights at Cheshire East Council

04/04/2018Women are scaling the heights at Cheshire East Council

Kath O’Dwyer, acting chief executive of Cheshire East Council, assesses the importance of the women in the authority’s workforce. After speaking at a Cheshire East Council event on International Women’s Day, I started to think about just how much of an impact women make to the workplace in Cheshire East. Cheshire E... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Councils must start preparing for the Autumn Budget now

19/04/2018Councils must start preparing for the Autumn Budget now

This year will provide the opportunity to develop conversations about local government finance in order to ensure councils stop running on empty,... more >
Get what you pay for, and only pay for what you get

19/04/2018Get what you pay for, and only pay for what you get

Matthew Sparkes, deputy director for financial services at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on the public sector benefits of the brand-new Spe... more >
Employment support must work for all

19/04/2018Employment support must work for all

London’s new Work and Health Programmes (WHPs), which have now gone live, will help thousands more people get into work across the capital,... more >
Creating a common digital direction

19/04/2018Creating a common digital direction

Phil Rumens, chair of the LocalGov Digital Steering Group and digital services manager for West Berkshire Council, urges local authorities to mak... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >