New CRM and Self-Service Platform Transforms Customer Experience for Chiltern and South Bucks Councils

Contacting the councils used to be a frustrating and inconsistent experience. Now the two authorities have streamlined service delivery with a new digital platform from GOSS.

Chiltern & South Bucks Trinity (October 2019)

 

Chiltern & South Bucks Trinity (October 2019)

Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council share a common boundary, chief executive and management team, leading the two authorities to explore further opportunities for joint working. 2017 saw the creation of a central customer experience team tasked with improving citizens' experience of key council services.

 

The Challenge: A frustrating and inconsistent customer experience

For citizens and businesses in the Chiltern and South Bucks districts, interacting with the local council used to be a frustrating and inconsistent experience.

As neither council had a CRM system to handle customer enquiries, even simple tasks - like ordering a garden waste bin or reporting a dead animal in the road - would spark a lengthy game of wait-and-see. With no way to request or report anything online, customers would call the customer service team or email the relevant service, relay their message, and then wait for a response or update that sometimes never came.

So when the two councils formed a single customer experience team in 2017, the priority was to introduce new systems that would allow queries to be handled promptly, consistently, and in line with customers' expectations of a modern, digital council.

Yvonne Hadlames, Customer Services Manager for Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils, explains: "As customers become more reliant on fast-paced services like Amazon, they start to expect the same from their council. They expect their own accounts, quick communication, and frequent notifications about their requests."

The lack of a single customer management system was creating headaches for the councils' internal operations, too. Requests that came to the customer service team were usually emailed on to the relevant service, who then had to input the request into the relevant back-office system, creating duplicate effort and slowing processes down.

Customers would often call or email more than once, or more than one service, to try to get a resolution. That often resulted in the same request being entered multiple times into multiple systems. Sometimes, requests simply got lost. Something had to change.

 

The Solution: A new CRM, and an easy-to-use self-service website

The Customer Experience (CX) team went out to tender through G-Cloud, seeking a partner who could provide a central CRM with intelligent business process workflow and powerful integration capability to relevant back-end systems; a tool for authoring self-service web forms; and functionality to allow push notifications to customers and service teams. While several providers offered sophisticated technology, one stood out for its passion and collaborative approach.

That solution was the GOSS Digital Platform; a cloud platform offering a lightweight CRM system with MyAccount functionality; a drag-and-drop low code editor for building online forms that feed into the CRM; and includes as standard a powerful API/integration layer to connect the CRM to back-end systems.

 

"GOSS worked hard to understand the everyday operations of the council. They weren't offering an out-of-the-box solution - they wanted to work with us to create a solution that would genuinely help." 

Yvonne Hadlames, Customer Services Manager, Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils

 

While a lot of functionality is available out of the box on the GOSS Digital Platform, the GOSS project team worked closely with Yvonne and her team to build some additional features, like more dashboards for easy reporting to services teams and senior management.

What GOSS didn't have to do was build the councils' online forms. The GOSS Digital Platform's intuitive and easy to use low-code forms builder means the councils can design, build and modify their own forms and workflow whenever they like, with no JavaScript or HTML knowledge required.

 

The Results: 8,000 signups in 3 months, and a channel shift towards self-service  

The customer experience team planned to roll out the new platform service by service, starting with waste, since it receives the highest volume of enquiries. Waste services went live on the platform in June 2019, along with new MyAccount functionality that enables customers to create a profile, log in, and request waste services online.

Despite the councils soft-launching MyAccount with no publicity, over 8,000 customers created a profile in the first three months, with over 30,000 online requests raised on the platform for services like reporting abandoned vehicles, ordering green waste bins, and missed collection reporting. Figures indicate a channel shift in these three months, with a staggering 75% of all service requests raised by citizens with no Council intervention. This shift represents a significant saving of staff time and effort, and also creates a much richer user experience for the citizen.

At the back end, things are much more streamlined too. There is straight-through workflow for the more frequent requests. The online form creates a case in the CRM, which automatically feeds the request into the relevant back-end system for actioning, while the customer is notified of the action taken and kept informed of how their case is progressing. The new process removes the need for citizens to contact the council for an update, and further reduces call volumes and staff intervention.

One such process is garden waste, with the online request for a bin feeding through the CRM into the back-end waste management application, which notifies the councils' private contractor to deliver a bin and initiate a subscription.

"It's a much more efficient process," explains Simon Vockins, Programme Manager for Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils. "The contractor receives the request as soon as it's made, and the customer has complete visibility during the entire process."

Monitoring and reporting are key features of the new platform, enabling Yvonne and her team to provide updates to service heads on performance against customer service KPIs - which helps with resource planning to meet SLAs and efficiency targets.

 

Future Plans: More services added to the platform  

With waste services successfully rolled out, more services will be added to the platform over time, with Environmental Health, Community Safety, and Licensing already nearing completion.

Yvonne and her team are finding new services quick to integrate, thanks to the ease of use of the GOSS forms builder and project management support from the GOSS team.

 

"Our partnership with GOSS has been completely collaborative throughout the project. We've worked closely to design a solution that's transformed the way we engage with our customers - we can't wait to see where this partnership takes us."

Yvonne Hadlames, Customer Services Manager, Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils

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