As a rule, self-service portals are rubbish.
Take this typical scenario: A customer wants to log a repair on her council house. She goes online and sees there is a self-service portal. She clicks the link, and is immediately disappointed to see she needs to apply for an account. She applies for an account, then finds out the details for it will be mailed to her in the post. Frustrated at not being able to tick off a ‘task done’, she phones up and logs the repair with the contact centre.
This can be represented by an emotional journey:
At Adur & Worthing, we set ourselves the challenge of simplifying this process from the important starting point of the customers’ needs. The result was we came up with a new model which did away with portals and passwords and replaced these with….trust.
Now our customer can go online and immediately report a repair. She can schedule a suitable time for a plumber to arrive and get text message confirmation and updates.
The emotional journey for our customer can now be represented as:
Our customers trust that our system is safe and secure, and in turn we trust our customers to use the system for only the purpose it was intended.
The technical bit
We achieve this by using authenticated web pages. When a customer applies for a service, we send them a secure link to their case by email or SMS. This secure link contains their case number and a random 40 digit secure key. According to howsecureismypassword.net this would take approximately 142 TREDECILLION YEARS to crack (thats 42 zeros) - here is a handy website to put this in context. In addition to this, the server has protection against hackers trying to gain access using Brute Force attacks, which will block them from the service after a few failed attempts.
We acknowledge some online services will require a password and identity verification, however so far we have not encountered this situation. We have, using the above method, built applications for Repairs, Housing Register and Waste & Recycling without needing to surface any identifiable information, and therefore, avoided the need to require our users to register and log in before they can transact with us, helping us to achieve truly frictionless Self-Service.