Digital by Default – Shifting Channels

Local authorities across the country continue to experience significant budget cuts and many are now looking for cost-effective ways to communicate with their customers whilst delivering improved services.

The increasing take-up of digital services in some councils is already providing a better customer experience, offering a 24×7 service and significantly reducing costs.

Channel shift can be a key strategy to support these councils in successfully achieving their goals and extracting value from digital channels. Channel shift is the process of moving services or contact mechanisms from one channel to another in order to reduce costs and improve customer experience – for example moving from expensive face-to-face interactions and phone channels to automated voice or a self-service online model.

It is estimated that the cost of online transactions (£0.15) is 57 times cheaper than face-to-face (£8.62) and 18 times cheaper than telephone transactions (£2.83) (The Socitm Digital Efficiency report). As most councils have tens, or hundreds, of thousands of customer interactions every year, shifting just 50% of these online could result in significant savings.

There are concerns, however, over digital exclusion; the customers who do not have access to the internet or digital channels. Nevertheless, with the increase in online shopping, social media, online news and internet banking, the vast majority of the UK population are now online.

The Office of National Statistics stated that in Q1 2015 86% of adults in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months, which was up from 85% in the previous year. These numbers also varied by region, with the South-East of England being 90% while Northern Ireland was only 80%.

Recent figures show a significant increase in people using their mobile phones to connect to the internet. According to Ofcom’s recent figures, the numbers grew 14.25% between 2014 and 2015 to a total of 61%. Despite these figures, digital exclusion is a legitimate concern. Councils do, therefore, still need to provide traditional channels to ensure that the minority who don’t have access to the internet are not excluded from services.

One way of supporting channel shift is to leverage a customer-facing, self-service web portal. This allows councils to handle many common transactions through intelligent online forms that can capture information and initiate workflows to automatically manage tasks through to their completion. The portal can be available 24×7, allowing customers to achieve a resolution even outside normal office hours. Traditional interactions that would usually take up a large chunk of agent time can easily be handled by a self-service web portal. These could include:

  • Council tax queries
  • Benefits
  • Direct debit sign-up
  • Bill payments
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Refuse collection request
  • Parking enforcement
  • Reporting problems
  • General enquiries and many more.

The self-service web portal capabilities built into Liberty CXM help your council improve customer experiences while saving costs. To find out more, view the recording of our Digital by Default webinar. For more information on our other solutions tailored for the public sector, please view our dedicated web pages.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Lynley Meyers – View the original post

Published On: 20th May 2016 - Last modified: 6th Feb 2019
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