Accelerating process delivery
South Hams District Council accelerates process delivery to drive improved customer experiences during the pandemic. Low-code technology enabled the council to transform three times faster than previous systems allowed.
- Transformation three times faster than previous systems allowed, within 18 months they transformed 90 processes
- Single integrated platform for customer requests, case management and workflows
- Developed the first app in just one week
- Met needs of the council quickly and easily
- Greater visibility of high value tasks
- Funnel all customer contact through one function
- Easy to use self-service has encouraged 75% of customers to self-serve
- Delivered +£450,000 savings over 12 months by freeing teams from costly broken processes and siloed data
Revolutionising customer service delivery
South Hams District Council is a local authority delivering a wide range of services for residents and businesses across south west Devon. Along with West Devon Borough Council, which it has been working with since 2007, the council has undertaken an exciting transformation programme that is revolutionising customer service delivery.
Six years ago, the councils began transforming internal operating models in a bid to remove departmental silos, whilst enabling an agile workforce that could work from anywhere. To support this, a CRM workflow tool was implemented that managed over 150 workflow processes. Whilst initially effective, it soon became apparent that the councils needed to achieve more. To effectively automate services and enable the prioritisation of workloads, a single integrated platform was needed to host all customer requests, perform complex case management, and operate workflows. The platform also needed to support the councils to reach greater levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction whilst minimising shadow IT and unofficial employee workarounds.
The IT team saw this as an opportunity to re-engineer internal processes to be smooth, automated and efficient. The platform also needed to be future-proof, enabling the councils to make flexible improvements in-line with changing business needs.
One solution to meet a range of aspirations
Armed with years of experience, Mike Ward, Head of IT Practice at South Hams and West Devon Councils, started his search for a solution with an aspirational view of what the team wanted from the new case management platform.
His requirements included:
- A secure citizen portal that would enable citizens to log and manage their own cases, with integrated forms and transaction progress updates
- A channel choice for citizens and a nudging process to digital, such as by email after a phone call, making the switch to online comms easy
- A central customer record and easy omnichannel handling for contact centre staff, to enable first-contact resolution
- End-to-end processes for complex case management by extending the councils’ capacity to integrate with third-party solutions and legacy software
- Performance management driven by SLAs in real-time, for daily proactive workload management, to enable the team to meet and exceed customer expectations
- The ability to support the mobile workforce to successfully accept, manage and complete case tasks or report issues even with patchy mobile coverage
- The use of self-service and integrated tech such as chatbots to support the council to shift routine tasks to digital and reduce any unnecessary contact with automated updates
- A shared yet consistent solution. The platform would be shared by the two councils and needed to offer all citizens an improved experience and enhanced relationship with their own council.
Duplicated manual processes
After a thorough supplier evaluation, involving employees who would be using the technology first-hand and a range of internal stakeholders, it soon became clear that Netcall’s Citizen Hub, built on the Liberty Create low-code platform, would be the next stage in South Hams’ digital evolution. The council had already implemented Netcall’s Liberty Converse, a complete omnichannel contact centre solution, and were looking to utilise Liberty Connect for social messaging. An overarching product that could be easily integrated was essential.
The aim was for Netcall’s Liberty Create platform to enable both councils to deploy and rapidly accelerate business applications for its citizen and business services. It would also provide real-time reporting functionality and valuable workflow insights. Plus, the availability of an active app sharing Community (AppShare) would enable the councils to use and adapt existing apps to suit their own requirements.
No time to waste
Having implemented Liberty Create during the early stages of the pandemic, its capabilities were put to the test straight away through the development of a new discretionary grants solution.
With just a week to deploy the application, South Hams used AppShare to download a similar app previously designed by Croydon Council. There were some fundamental differences, so they built the app from scratch, rather than modifying the existing app. But, by using it as a scaffold to hang their own specific requirements from, it was easy to make meet the council’s own needs quickly.
Using AppShare gave us a fantastic start. With a little technical help from Netcall, we were able to deploy a live process, built from scratch, that suited our requirements in less than a week from taking delivery of the Liberty Create program. The new app also saved our case management team time by automating as much of the business logic as possible.
Soon enough, real users were submitting data into the application. Thanks to easily built-in feedback forms, the councils can now gather valuable insights to continually adapt and improve the app.
In addition to application development, work optimisation was another key area that needed addressing. Typically, work would come into the councils in a random manner – there was no control over it, and no one could predict the type or volume. To build greater efficiency and improve service levels, the management team needed to ensure it was giving the right job, to the right people, for the right council.
But to react quickly and effectively would create a big management load. Due to the councils’ flat organisational structure, the work optimisation tool needed to be able to spread across departments within cross-trained staff to be effective. It also needed to utilise the information from SLAs to dictate peaks and troughs in demand and identify capacity across the business.
Thanks to the new platform’s live reporting capabilities, the councils are now able to work using real-time insights, enabling teams to react instantly to spikes in work. This workload prioritisation gives greater visibility to high value tasks so that resources are effectively assigned.
An end-to-end solution – driving better customer experiences
Moving forward, the unity of Netcall’s Liberty Converse, Connect and Create solutions will provide the councils with a complete end-to-end solution, facilitating a seamless customer experience for citizens and businesses.
Previously, the first point of contact for a customer would depend on how they got in touch. Calls, social media or webchat enquiries would go straight to the customer service team, whilst an email or letter would go through to case management. With both areas of business trying to achieve different outcomes, customers would receive differing service levels.
Now, the effective integration of Create and Converse will enable the councils to funnel all customer contact through its customer service function, ensuring enquiries are all managed under a single consistent queue of work and responded to in a consistent way. Citizens will benefit as contact centre employees are able to switch seamlessly between channels, and for staff, it will reduce work stress and improve efficiency.
Not only can we design and develop new applications quickly, but Create allows us to build a concept and easily show how it works to the wider team. Despite having a much smaller team, we are seeing rapid transformation in about a third of the time and the use of low-code has enabled us to push processes out at about six times the speed of the previous system.
The journey continues…
The South Hams and West Devon councils now have the tools they need to continue to design and create new business applications to support and satisfy its people. In addition, with feedback forms built into every process, the team can identify and rectify issues quickly – enabling the council to better serve its customers. Within 18 months they transformed 90 processes including abandoned vehicles, business grants, hardship relief, planning enquiries and test and trace.
And in March 2022, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council took the Gold Award for Best Transformation Team at The iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards for continuously innovating and pushing the boundaries of local public service deployment.
In recognition of their continuous innovation, South Hams District Council and West Devon County Council won a Gold Award for Best Transformation Team in The iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards 2022.