The London Borough of Bexley is transforming its customer services using a new CRM and online self-service environment, to automate interactions and enable channel shift. Bexley, together with its IT partner Steria, has deployed Firmstep’s AchieveService and Self portal solutions to give residents a common interface to securely access local services using a range of intelligent e-forms.
Using Firmstep’s AchieveService and Self to build a number of dynamic e-forms and a self-service portal Bexley and Steria, who have been responsible for the development of a number of integration modules and back-office applications, have enabled channel shift across a number of key services, which include waste and recycling, highways, and school admissions, with many others in development.
Whether customers go online to the portal, call in by phone, or visit in person, the same e-form is now being completed providing consistency across all access channels and reduced maintenance overheads. The online portal enables the public to access over 100 of the Borough’s services with nearly 1,800 self-service form requests being made per month.
Mark Ramus, customer service & web development manager at the London Borough of Bexley said: “Using Achieve Service and Self from Firmstep has enabled us to develop and deploy highly efficient, automated public services that link with our back office systems for a true end-to-end experience. This provides our residents with greater access to services and generates ongoing savings by reducing call volumes and manual data entry which feeds into the Councils overall savings strategy. Although initially targeted at the Contact Centre, we are also applying these solutions to other areas within the Council as a corporate solution, helping to further boost efficiency. Self is at the centre of our commitment to delivering channel shift and better online services to local residents"
Bexley introduced online handling of waste and recycling requests in March 2012, and reports that close to 30% of routine waste and recycling transactions have now channel shifted to online. The self-service portal’s e-forms link to Bexley's Waste Contractor (Serco) to automatically transfer requests. They also link to a number of new Steria-developed databases and back office applications, which provide the forms with real time information on specific waste collections by household and allows residents to estimate, book and pay for the collection of over 300 bulky items direct from their home. A link with the Council's GIS datasets ensures residents can only book collections on specific days for each area ensuring optimum efficiency.
Self from Firmstep has also been used to achieve channel shift in processing applications for school selection tests in the borough. This process was previously paper-based, with the 3,000 paper form submissions received per year taking several weeks to process. Migrating to an online e-form has delivered a considerable saving in staff time and avoided the re-keying of data which is now automatically imported into the Council's back office system. In its first year, it resulted in 99% of applications being channel shifted online. In 2013 the figure is expected to be 5,000 as the application criteria change.
Bexley is continuing to roll out new self-service forms on the platform for a variety of areas. These include reports relating to highways and environmental health services, building control applications, further school admission services and parks and leisure.
Bexley chose Firmstep’s solutions in 2011, following an evaluation of e-forms products that would provide the borough with a dynamic and flexible product that could easily link with its other back office systems. When assessing Firmstep’s Achieve Service and Self, Bexley’s IT team realised that it would allowed them to progressively phase out its existing Comino CRM system, generating ongoing IT savings as the solution delivers richer functionality at a lower cost.
Self is part of the suite of solutions delivered on the Firmstep Platform. With its unique integration capabilities, Firmstep’s Platform links to any council back-office system, giving easy, open access to data with no need for complex programming or system changes. This helps councils and local authorities to quickly roll out solutions that meet customer service expectations and successfully achieve channel shift.