I’m a millennial!  Straight away I expect the word ‘millennial’ fires off thoughts in your head: ‘phone addict’, ‘Twitter’, ‘Facetime’, perhaps?

If so, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I am interested in technology!
And I am, but I’m also really interested in the benefits technology can bring to the services the Councils provide.

I work in the Insight Team in Customer Services and my job involves responding to social media queries, monitoring and collating performance figures for each service area and logging complaints and freedom of information requests. It is a busy, fast-paced place to be!

In Customer Services you want to help the customer as much as you can, and this was at the forefront of my mind when I got involved in the Adur & Worthing Environmental Services (AWES) project. The aim of the project is to help build a self-service system for customers to request collection of their clinical waste, bulky waste and missed bins.

As a team, we are passionate about leading the way for what our Customers should have access too online. So when I could, I brought my own insight to the weekly project meetings and also really wanted to see from a digital perspective how the systems were being built, but also why we needed to build them in the first place.

At these weekly meetings we would produce figures from our Contact Centre about the types of calls we get coming through for AWES, the amount of calls we answer and how long the process takes for us to deal with a customer’s query. By building a system which the customer can use online instead of phoning up, we are also allowing the Customer Services team the time they require to deal with more complex queries as well as giving customers flexibility when needing to request a service from us.

Our team works in the same environment as the Contact Centre so we hear daily what is needed from both the team and our customers who use the service. This helps us be the ‘middleman - or woman’ for the front-facing team whilst communicating this to our DigITal team to get the best outcome.

I was able to tell the AWES project what would work well if I was using the service, also helping them make sure the information was readable, clear to understand and of course making sure self-service actually works! If I don’t understand technology and terms used by tech savvy people, how can I expect others to do the same?

The success of these projects is also put down to the involvement from all parts of the Councils and that included the data to back up what our customers want (this is my angle!).

We needed input from the staff who take the calls, the back office who action the service as well as those who have no experience in this area who can test the system for us. We actively encourage our testers to find any faults, so we know exactly what needs to be amended.

The DigITal team and Customer Services overlap, so by us working closely as a team when building self service we were able to share experiences and thought processes from both sides of the Council. We would have engaging conversations, storyboard the customer’s journey and test out different ideas to get the best outcome. We produced surveys for customers regarding the waste services they use from us in order to better understand why they need to contact us.

We gauged the ages of our customers, what services they use, how they rate our service and most importantly - if they would use self service to begin with! We emailed the survey to regular users of Waste services in order to target our audience and find out what they need from us as a Council. Of the participants in the survey, 72% of them would use an online service to report their Waste enquiry on. Our job now is to find out why people still contact us on the phone instead of using self serve. The Insight team’s next steps will be talking and listening to our customers to find out what is working and reviewing what changes we can make to the system to make the most of what we have built. Stay tuned!