IEG4 solutions enable the High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands Councils’ alliance to provide a better digital service to its citizens
- Since implementing IEG4’s OneVu solution in 2016, the alliance has seen significant uptake in residents accessing services online
- Residents accessing forms online have resulted in a reduction in face-to-face visits and calls to the council
- Over 6500 residents have signed up to access council services online since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic
High Peak Staffordshire Moorlands is the alliance council of High Peak Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. The partnership was formed in 2008 to establish joint working arrangements and create a shared approach to delivering key services.
The alliance has joint chiefs of office, as well as a joint team, covering both regions, which share a lot of similarities both geographically and demographically. There are around 98,000 residents in each authority, with 48,000 properties.
Having a digital solution that could support the councils in communicating with residents and allowing them to access services online moved up the agenda for both councils in January 2016. The alliance produced a strategy for channel shift, aimed at delivering internal efficiencies by using digital platforms to improve processes and to meet changing customer demands.
A new ‘digital window’
At this time, High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands’ legacy CRM was coming to the end of its lifecycle, and the councils decided to review other digital solutions available. It chose IEG4 and its OneVu Citizen Engagement Platform, as it gave High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands the best option available for integration with other digital solutions, and provided a ‘digital window’ between the two councils where they had one access point for all essential information.
The platform combines three main functions: IEG4's OneVu citizen portal, CSVu customer service portal and Open Process workflow element. With a mobile-first design, the user interface of OneVu attracts residents to use the portal, with the provision of answers to frequently asked questions, functions to submit IEG4 forms and trackable service requests. It provides seamless end-to-end transactions for staff and citizens and requires minimal involvement from council officers for each request.
Revenues and Benefits, a high-volume and complex service, was one of the first areas of the alliance to be transformed as part of the channel shift plan. Once implemented, Benefits and Claims forms went entirely digital and could all be accessed and submitted online, instead of by post or through visits to council offices.
A Citizen Account for citizens
Since the implementation, OneVu is used across most areas of the council. There was an immediate reduction in citizen demand to speak to a staff member, and the portal delivered a 45% reduction in calls and a 39% decrease in visits to council offices.
With quick hit information points available online, and the reduction in contact, staff had their time freed up to focus on their more vulnerable customers or to work on more complex enquiries.
It also led to a decrease in the resources needed by the council to work on paper-based forms, and OneVu supports the alliance in becoming paperless in as many service areas as possible. Not only does this reduce the amount of paper for the good of the environment and a reduction in carbon footprint, but it also creates cost and time efficiencies as staff and citizens no longer need to process and post forms.
But fundamentally, for High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands councils and IEG4, it’s all about citizen need and putting citizens first. The alliance’s customer advisors – when they are taking calls in the call centre, encourage customers to open a personal online account and show them how to personalise it with data relevant to them being bought in from the back-office in real-time.
The main benefit of this for citizens is that it creates the opportunity for self-service and avoids unnecessary contact. Service requests are all accessible 24/7 and can be accessed via multiple devices.
Karen Lomas, Head of Customer Services at High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands, said: “Accessibility to services for citizens is of high importance to us, our digital solutions are not just creating efficiency for the councils, it’s also the customer experience that’s important, and we know this is how our customers want to interact with us.”
In 2017 we started the I CAN Campaign, to get people using online services – that was to place the customer first, to engage with citizens and stakeholders.”
Ready to operate online
In the present day, IEG4’s OneVu platform continues to improve the customer experience at High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands because residents are empowered to find out the information they need themselves. This requirement has never been more important as it has during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands have seen a switch in how it communicates with residents, with all of its face-to-face facilities having been closed for a number of months. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of forms received online and the number of calls received.
OneVu has played a pivotal role, as it has meant that the council was ahead of the game when it came to delivering all of its services online. Residents already had the capability to apply for local benefits and universal credit online, as well as register any essential changes in circumstance, such as a new address for council tax.
It also enabled staff to be reactive to the new demands, enabling them to quickly build forms with a low code for local government forms building solution, in response to the need for essential government business grants, or self-isolation payments for those eligible.
There was a significant rise in sign-ups to online accounts, powered by OneVu. During the period between March 2020 and October 2020 there were over 6,500 new online accounts created by citizens. There was also an uptick in older people using online services – of those new accounts created, over 30% identified themselves as being aged 65 or over.
Powering new projects and driving access for all
Now that the channel shift strategy has proven a success, the two councils are keen to extend the benefits to other service areas.
Karen Lomas added: “Significant progress has been made since the channel shift strategy came into play in 2016, but we also recognise that there are further improvements we can make as technology develops along with the ability to transact digitally as well.
“We're also very keen as a council to think about digital exclusion and accessibility as well as looking at the automation and integration with other software, and we are working with IEG4 on that transformation.”
The council is about to go live with implementation of its waste collection service, which will allow citizens to view any activity with regards to their collection in real-time. Being another high-volume area, the council predicts that this will result in more sign-ups for online accounts, which will encourage them to look at other areas, such as council tax and benefits accounts – giving them a ‘golden record’ all in one place.
John Jervis, Sales and Marketing Director at IEG4 says: “When we first started working with High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands our mission was simple, to improve the customer experience, and provide them with a solution that worked across both councils.
We’ve worked closely together since then to add new integrations to the service and to extend it to other areas. The impact of the pandemic has highlighted the true value and importance in showing councils that going digital is not only the best way forward, it’s the only way forward.”