The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames Council has saved more than £400,000 from reduced contact centre running costs since 2012 by improving its website’s transactional functions.
The London council redesigned its website and invested in improved Customer Relationship (CRM) technology to allow residents to pay, report and request things online rather than calling, emailing or visiting the council in person.
Recent measurement of online self-service transactions showed that more than 50% of residents interacted online with the council, with a third of transactions made from a tablet or smartphone. Three years ago, just 15% transacted online via www.kingston.gov.uk .
The figures mainly relate to reporting local issues such as notifying the council about a missed bin collection, requesting a building control inspection, applying for a Council Tax discount or paying for a garden waste collection service. However, a spokesperson told Local Digital that the figure climbs to 67% when more recently-introduced online parking fine and Council Tax payment services are included.
The spokesperson said that “a joint effort” between the Communications, ICT and Customer Relations teams has been key to the success of the website, which was redesigned with the help of web experience management SME Jadu who also provided the CRM.
The council encouraged adoption of online services in three main ways: with an awareness campaign; by redrafting content – reducing it from thousands of pages to make information easier to navigate – and by adopting Government Digital Service’s design principles.
“Online self-service is quickly becoming the preferred choice for our residents when contacting the council”, said Councillor Gaj Wallooppillai, Deputy Leader at Kingston Council in a statement. “It’s convenient for them and cost-effective for us. The significant savings being made will be used to keep Council Tax as low as possible and protect vital front line services.
Kingston is now testing the use of live webchat, allowing residents to submit and potentially resolve a query with an agent live online to save further costs.