New self-service platform delivers a 75% reduction in costs to serve the customers of Powys County Council
A new website using the GOSS Digital Platform has increased levels of online self-service, driven up satisfaction, and freed up more time for valuable, customer-facing services.
Powys County Council is the largest unitary authority in Wales, providing services to over 132,000 residents. Its low population density, varied geography, and the requirement to provide services and communications in both English and Welsh make delivering reliable services across the board a unique challenge.
The challenge: a "self-service" website that didn't lead anywhere
Powys had been using an open-source website platform running on costly hardware that was approaching end of life. Although the council had started to offer self-service via online forms, these weren't connected with any back-end systems and simply sent an email to the relevant department. Tasks such as new bin requests could take a long time to action, often requiring the customer to chase them up.
In addition, call centre agents were using a CRM system that was disconnected from the website, meaning call handlers had a different process view to that of customers using the website. That created frustration for customers who might start a process online, then call in for assistance or to chase up progress, only to be taken through the same process again in a different way.
The council needed a solution that would allow customers to access key services quickly, easily and in a way that worked for them, while also achieving efficiency savings.
The solution: a new, flexible web platform with integrated CRM
Powys's e-access team - responsible for making it easier to access online customer services - initially looked for a cloud-based web content management system that could replicate the self-service processes available on the existing website. However, after speaking with other local authorities and evaluating a range of vendors, they realised the GOSS Digital Platform would allow them to do much more than that.
Rather than force the council to replicate existing processes, the GOSS Digital Platform allows the council to easily design, implement and adapt online processes in a way that meets the changing needs of customers and council services. Its integrated CRM would also enable Powys to integrate workflows all the way from online request to fulfilment.
"Rather than choosing a pre-built process option from an off-the-shelf system where you're limited in what you can do, we can now build our own processes," says Sarah Ryan, Channel Access Manager at Powys County Council. "We liaise with departments and consider customer feedback to build something completely bespoke to our requirements. That's ultimate flexibility."
"We can now build our own processes. We liaise with departments and consider customer feedback to build something completely bespoke to our requirements. That's ultimate flexibility".
Sarah Ryan, Channel Access Manager, Powys County Council
To prioritise which services to move over first, the council collected as much service demand data as it could - from call monitoring and unique website page views. That resulted in a list of top tasks that it could then configure in the GOSS Digital Platform.
The council introduced the new website in a phased approach, running the new top tasks-oriented site in parallel with the old site for a number of months, before switching over in December 2018.
The results: a huge leap in customer satisfaction and a £55,000+ saving
The majority of customers using the council's most popular services now do so using online self-service, delivering estimated channel shift savings of more than £55,000 in the first six months in waste services alone - representing a 75% cost reduction. These estimated figures are based on SOCITM figures for channel value benchmarking.
The shift has freed up time that can be spent helping less digitally-savvy customers and those with more complex needs, as well as identifying further opportunities for service improvements.
Customers can create their own 'My Account' - a personalised portal where they can get updates and statements, make requests, and track progress. If they do call in, call centre agents now follow the same process steps as the online self-service functionality, making for a much smoother and faster experience.
Since moving to the GOSS Digital Platform, Powys County Council has seen customer satisfaction rise from an average of 68% to an average of 84% across all services in the first year alone. One of its most popular services - bulky waste collections - now has a 96% satisfaction rate. Another welcome consequence is a 50% reduction in emails to customer services, and an 80% reduction in calls related to waste depots.
A further benefit of an integrated web platform and CRM is the ability for service heads to track activity and metrics in real time. Waste and Transport, for example, can see real-time usage per depot and real-time missed bin collection reports, enabling them to make informed decisions about operational improvements.
Nigel Brinn, Corporate Director for Economy and Environment at Powys, commented: "The introduction of the new self-service website has transformed the way we work and manage a number of vital front line services. The management reporting function is particularly useful as it gives us real time information on the service, thus providing up to date information rather than having to rely on outdated reports."
"The introduction of the new self-service website has transformed the way we work and manage a number of vital front line services."
Nigel Brinn, Corporate Director (Economy and Environment), Powys County Council
The future: More self-service functionality and integrated case management
The beauty of the GOSS Digital Platform is that it's completely adaptable, enabling Powys to add new self-service processes as customer needs and council requirements change. Planned future additions include the ability to report problems with roads and street lighting, as well as new case management functionality for councillors dealing with individual customer cases.
Throughout the transition to the new site, Powys has found GOSS to be a committed and supportive partner. "GOSS has been really helpful and responsive," says Sarah Ryan. "Beyond all that which you'd expect from a vendor, they genuinely care about what you're trying to achieve, and they work hard to understand your goals. We think of them as our partners and not just another supplier to manage. Our challenges are their challenges."
Benefits of the GOSS Digital Platform
- Cloud-based web platform for low, predictable costs
- Easy to configure and implement end-to-end self-service and business processes
- Integrated CRM for single customer view and consistent service delivery
- Real-time data on service usage to drive decision-making
- Easy to manage and update in-house with no vendor consultancy required