Peterborough City Council takes leap towards Government as a Platform

8 Mar 2016, 10:15 pm

As the second fastest growing city in the UK and with an increasing need to improve service delivery, Peterborough City Council is putting a digital platform in place to improve communication and data analysis.

It has begun by deploying Salesforce’s Service Cloud in its 50-strong call centre team to improve understanding of residents’ needs, based on better gathering, visualisation and analysis of data. The aim is to gain a clearer understanding of customers’ needs then re-shape services around them.

“We’ll be able to seamlessly connect staff, customers and information via a core platform that supports multiple engagement channels,” says Richard Godfrey, Assistant Director, Digital Peterborough at the council.

Service Cloud will help Peterborough to understand why people call the council, and then help to decrease the volume of calls (the call centre handles 300,000 enquiries annually) and increase first-time resolution. “We’ll be able to establish digital self-service options for common queries, which means a faster response for citizens and a lower cost for the council,” adds Godfrey.

Previously, and not unusually for a council,  legacy systems operated in silos, which meant data was also stuck in silos, resulting in “no single view of a citizen, which makes it difficult to link cases raised with the different departments,” says Godfrey.

Effective teamwork

Council staff only had historic data upon which to base analyses of residents’ needs and adjust services accordingly. Now, Service Cloud allows them to use live data for a deeper analysis of data to improve service delivery by ‘capturing the moment’ as it happens, resulting in better decision making based on up-to-date, relevant data.

Managers will be able to access the information they need in real time, without relying on performance reports for “better visibility of how we are spending and where we are saving taxpayers’ money,” says Godfrey.

And to combat an over-reliance on staff on email – around 12,000 internal emails are sent each day, with “a significant impact on productivity and IT infrastructure” – Peterborough will introduced Salesforce Chatter and Community Cloud. The tools enable collaboration via ‘online communities’ across the whole organisation for teams such as adult services and human resources.

“Instead of emailing a query to a manager, an agent can message them in Chatter and get a response in real time while the caller is still on the line,” says Godfrey.

Next steps

Plans to use Salesforce more broadly as a common platform for front and back office processes mean that the council will have a centralised repository of data allowing data analysis to drive ongoing service improvement.

For example, the council plans to roll out Marketing Cloud, to improve how it communicates with citizens by helping them to ‘listen in’ on social media conversations, spotting situations before they arise and reducing emails. It will let the council follow thousands of conversation threads without the need to identify individuals. “It will provide us with a unique window into life in Peterborough, so we can make our services more relevant,” says Godfrey.

Peterborough also plans to use it to improve communication with citizens. For example, if there is a shortage of foster carers, it will be able to launch a campaign to reach out to thousands of people with a few clicks.

The organisation aims to launch an integrated digital services ‘hub’ by the end of April to provide access to a range of online forms and council services. Broadly speaking, this will bring a pan-council view across all activities, and allow Peterborough to take one large leap towards introducing their ideal: Government as a Platform.