Adopting a ‘transparency manifesto’

Louisa Dean, communications and marketing manager for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, looks at the benefits of creating a touchless digital council

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead needs to make 40 per cent in savings across all service areas over a three-year period. We’ve committed to limiting council tax rises at or below the rate of inflation, while further improving services for residents. So, savings need to be made through better ways of working and improved delivery.

The focus is on implementing a new digital customer service strategy that enables efficient self-service. Historically, 82 per cent of resident contact has come via telephone, with only 10 per cent of contact being made online. We’ve set a target of reducing inbound call contact and increasing online interaction by 60 per cent.

The approach
We’ve adopted what we call a ‘transparency manifesto’ whereby we want users to have complete oversight of, and ability to track the progress of, their interactions with the council 24/7. We’d previously used a legacy CRM system that managed 10 per cent of service requests, a forms product that generated emails, as well as within customer services.

The digital transformation had to remove disjointed, siloed systems and implement a unified ‘real-time’ digital customer services platform.

We chose Jadu Continuum CXM, a ‘lite CRM’ that allows real-time updates, transparency, collaboration and instant chat for staff and residents online. We also opted for Jadu Continuum XFP, a secure and flexible eForms solution that provides non-technical tools to build online forms. Procurement was handled through the G-Cloud. It was a rapid and efficient process; the selection was made in March 2016 and implementation began in April 2016.

The G-Cloud enabled us to ‘start small’ and iterate the roll out of digital services, learning with each service. This is important because, together with Jadu, we based the project loosely on the Local Government Service Standards, which - among other things - suggests that the council ‘test the service from beginning to end with appropriate council members or senior managers responsible for it’.

Very early in the project, we made sure that members were closely involved in the process. As part of the delivery, Jadu filmed ‘sprint’ videos which were recorded by the project teams and shared with all senior stakeholders, including members.

The team also started a blog to ensure that learning and discovery, as well as outcomes, were shared with the community inside local government. This transparent approach meant that everyone with an interest in the transformation to digital was kept informed and enthusiastic.

Using an ‘iterative’ roll out process, creating a roadmap of services to ‘offboard’ from our legacy CRM products, we’ve been able to prioritise our effort and time to deliver the right services in the right order.

‘Green waste’ was chosen as the first service on the new platform due to the number of residents using the service. It’s a complex workflow and required the automation of renewals and collections and cancellations, involving a third-party contractor and is linked to payments and cash receipting, therefore requiring integration.

By making the process available online it allows residents, who wish to carry out this task online, to do so which has sped up the process and giving them improved outcomes. ‘Green waste’ was followed by further waste services, parking services, democratic services, and school transport services.

One of the biggest advantages of Jadu Continuum CXM is that it provides one centralised work queue for all teams to access and manage queries with an update on the status of the case. Changes in the status trigger an email notification for the customer so they are continuously kept up to date, delivering an ‘Amazon-like experience’.

Rather than implementing an expensive solution to deliver the personalisation and account features, we used the standard out of the box features of the Jadu platform. We leveraged a standard feature of the Jadu XFP solution that delivers a personalised ‘MyAccount’ page for customers who wish to register and track services. There is complete transparency and residents can see updates to their cases by their case handler or agent. They can log-in and track the progress of cases as well as receive ongoing updates on the status of their cases.

We’d initially created a ‘long list’ of all the line of business systems we felt needed to be integrated to the new digital customer platform. The list of over 20 systems ranged from revenues and benefits systems to environmental services.

Once the first phase was underway and nearing completion, we reviewed the list and based on knowledge of the new digital platform, arrived at a much shorter list of around five core systems. We are now reviewing the work we have achieved and are looking at further integration for our residents to ensure that they can complete their business online and we can reduce the number of calls in to the contact centre.

The results
The real benefit is that customers now have two-way, open communication with the council and are equally involved as they can upload documents or add comments to their case, in real time.

Most importantly, this can be done on any device (mobile or desktop). Research conducted and interpreted by Spacecraft Digital along with website analytics showed that a high volume of traffic to the council website comes from mobile devices and tablets.

With the new digital services in place, customers can apply and pay for services, track their service requests in real time and view all historic requests. Now, customer contact is seven days a week via a digital platform and will continue to be this way.

Systems being rationalised initially in this project will lead to over £80,000 of savings in costs per annum, including the replacement of legacy CRM, forms and customer service solutions. What is particularly great is that Jadu is training our team to use the system as they would themselves. So, in the future we can reduce our investment in Jadu professional services and yet continue to develop digital services for our residents.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, Principal Member for Communications and Public Health, says: “Ensuring our entire communications strategy and work across the council is geared towards a residents first approach is imperative. That is why we are in the process of redesigning the front end of the website. As a keystone of this process has been looking at the CXM and how that works for the rest of our residents and the services they need.

“Having recently taken over the digital journey at the council which is a passion and priority of mine, I was pleased with the easy to use front end of the CXM. I very much hope that residents sign up to this system and we can offer more digital and online services to embed the principle digital by choice.”

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