Agenda item

Scrutiny Review - ICT and Transformation

Interview –


10.00 am – Rachael Pope, Customer Services Manager.


Interview with the Customer Services Manager


1.  What Progress has been made towards full digital services?


Members heard that there had been a lot of progress made towards a full digital service, this included the addition of a number of self-service forms such as the one created to assist residents in self-isolation. There had been 7251 service requests through this form.


It was noted that the most used form of contact by residents was telephone, followed by email and in-person meetings. Web chat had been implemented in December 2021.


Committee were informed that the Mill Lane site had transitioned to cashless payments only in January 2019. Residents were still able to make cash payments at alternative sites such as post offices and payzone outlets.


There were also a large range of alternative payment methods made available to residents. These included telephone and website payments, as well as a new automated telephone based payment service. These services were available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No complaints had been received as a result of this transition to a cashless service.


Members heard that the ability to send fully encrypted texts and a hybrid mail service were currently being investigated.


2.  How Easy and Intuitive are the Services we have introduced?


Committee were informed that advice and assistance was still available for those residents that required it but often this was only required for first time users.


Residents still had the option of paying in cash at other premises outside of Mill Lane.


3.  How do we promote digital services and how are we measuring customer experience?


Members heard that customer satisfaction surveys across all access channels were due to be completed during 2022/2023. The services were also promoted and questions asked, during Citizens Panels. Residents also had access to a comments, compliments and complaints form that they were able to fill out.


Committee were informed that after completed a webchat, residents would have the option to complete a survey on their experience.


The Officer stated that a quality impact assessment was undertaken prior to the removal of the physical payments service at the Mill Lane premises and all residents that had made cash payments at the site were contacted and informed of the changes.


4.  How are we ensuring that all customers can access digital services, and what are we doing to help those we can’t?


Committee heard that internet access and the use of a self-help PC in reception at the Mill Lane premises, as well as the fact that internet access was available through DCC Libraries was actively promoted.


Customer services were also able to assist residents without internet access to create email accounts and complete online forms. This has been used in the past to assist residents in registering for free food during the Covid pandemic and for accessing Universal Credit.


The Officer highlighted ten core services that residents contacted the council for and suggested that a video series on how to access these could be created.


5.  What are the costs of implementation?


Members noted that the most extensive costs had been the implementation of the telephone payment service at a cost of £20,000 but this was needed in order for the organisation to be compliant with regulations.


There would also be a cost of £10,000 to implement the hybrid mail system but this would deliver savings of £30,000 this year.


6.  What are the barriers to success?


Committee were informed that the primary barrier was getting the forms online and ensuring that the right forms were available for residents.


There had been no complaints or barriers for residents to date.


7.  Do you have any other opinions/suggestions to improve digital services?


Members were told that the hybrid mail service would deliver significant savings and efficiencies. After this had been implemented, the implementation of a chatbot could be considered as this would reduce telephone time for Officers.


Committee discussed the interview and enquired as to whether the progress towards digital services would affect staffing levels. They heard that the service were not looking to make any redundancies but might consider succession planning once people leave the service.


Members noted that 734 residents had made cash payments this year at no charge to the resident.

The Officer informed Members that different ways to make payments were being actively promoted but if any residents were having issues then they were welcome to contact Customer Services.