Channel shift is an important area for us. It is about changing the way we operate: what is transactional and how do we transact?
More from: Mapping out a future strategy
Our priority will be very much about getting people to self serve; we have a huge channel shift agenda. Our target is 35% via the internet or telephony.
For 50 years people have been working nine to five, Monday to Friday, yet people are increasingly expecting to be able to access services in different forms, 24/7.
There are going to be a lot of people who are instantly very comfortable with that, but we have a high proportion of our local population who are still learning this and would probably prefer to talk to a human being.
A lot of it is about educating people about what they can do themselves.
We have transformed the front face of the civic centre, which always used to have long queues. We spent six months working on the queues to find out why people were coming into the civic centre.
For many it was to cash their benefits cheque or to pay their council tax or a parking fine. Many did not have bank accounts. Could we help them with that, work with our local banks to encourage them to open an account? Could they go instead to the Post Office or elsewhere?
Overall, the key strategic aim is to deliver 24/7 contact solutions from locations convenient to customers, that also bring value to the taxpayer though reduced cost.
We need to fundamentally shift from expensive face-to-face contact, whether that is through the telephony channel or by driving as much interaction to the web as possible (‘digital by default’), with the website as the channel of choice.
Ultimately, it is about making sure we have the right technology for people to access at any time, whether it is for reporting a missed bin collection or a broken light.
Gone are the days when we would have dedicated staff walking up and down the streets checking these things.
More widely, we are going to have to look at services in a more targeted way and really concentrate on services residents need help to do.
It will be about repositioning so that residents can take better personal control, and then delivering services in partnership with other agencies and in collaboration with local communities.
Sally Holland, corporate director support services, Southend-on-Sea BC
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