- Basildon Borough Council identified Environmental Services as an area of their contact centre they wished to introduce an easy to use, low cost, automated telephone service to provide residents with twenty four hour access to the Council.
- The streetcare team felt a large proportion of the queries they dealt with were unnecessarily resource hungry and could be satisfactorily dealt with through automation.
- In an effort to improve efficiency and provide a better service across the department, there was a need for a flexible service which could handle a broad and evolving range of enquiries relating to areas such as refuse and recycling collections and enabling the reporting of street care issues.
- Although the Council website was already providing fast access to information relating to environmental issues and an online reporting facility, stakeholders wanted telephone users to benefit from the same round the clock service.
- Self Service from Inform Communications was introduced as a proven, efficient, low cost automated service to provide consistent, accurate information to every caller, allowing them to report missed bin collections, order new bins, receive advice and guidance on recycling, report street cleansing issues or book council venues in an easy to use, accessible way. Callers with more complex or urgent enquiries can be transferred to agents where necessary.
- Self Service was initially trialed via a six month pilot for Streetcare services in March 2011 and after a review of the financial, operational and customer service benefits it has delivered, the service has been extended and additional service areas, including Revenues and Benefits, are now being considered for 2012.
- A commitment to improve and enhance customer service across the Streetcare department.
- To extend the 24/7 service provided by its website to all residents who chose to communicate with the Council by telephone.
- To implement a service which could resolve the majority of calls which are straightforward and repetitive in nature and do not require agent intervention, whilst quickly identifying complex and urgent enquiries and route these straight to advisors who were now more freely available.
- To reduce call waiting times and high abandonment rates resulting from a significant shortfall in call handling resources relative to service demand.
- To increase efficiency and reduce work processing times in line with targets.
Operational and Financial benefits
- Since implementation, Self Service has successfully answered over 62,000 enquiries at an average of approximately 8,000 per month.
- Only 45% of callers chose to transfer to advisors, with 55% having their enquiry successfully resolved by Self Service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at an inclusive cost of less than one F.T.E.
- That is equivalent to the work of 3.64 FTE's at an annual cost of over £91,000 p.a. for a service charge of less than the cost of 1 FTE.
- Missed bin collection reports are exported to the council within thirty minutes of reporting so the Council can prioritise and action without delay.
- Staff time can now be spent on the callers who need direct interaction, either because they are vulnerable or their enquiry needs urgent attention.
- Work processing times have been reduced.
- Customer satisfaction is up as people can now be certain they will be able to obtain information round the clock as opposed to trying to phone at inconvenient times with the knowledge that they may need to wait in lengthy queues to report streetcare issues or obtain information.
- Customers' expectations are handled as they can be informed of estimated timescales for action which greatly reduces repeat callers.
- The team at Inform have always responded rapidly and effectively when we have requested changes to the service in response to customer feedback or changing requirements.
- The service has also proved highly useful at informing residents about temporary changes to services, for example delays to refuse and recycling collections due to bad weather or bank holidays.
'We are really pleased that callers can now receive consistent, accurate information relating to an ever increasing number of environmental issues affecting the residents of Basildon. The service is successfully resolving over 55% of the calls we receive which has released resources and reduced work processing times considerably. Self Service is now under wider consideration across further service areas in 2012'
(Steven Ireland, Streetcare Team Leader, Basildon Council)