Basildon Borough Council saves £600,000 with interactive customer service

Basildon Borough Council, which currently services 180,000 visitors per year, has announced that its Customer Experience Programme of Change, supported by Qmatic, has saved the council £600,000 in its first year alone. The programme has established a centralised customer service operation that aims to deliver an improved customer experience at reduced cost. As part of this programme the face-to-face service centre has been redesigned to emphasise assisted self-service, opposed to a focus on simply ‘doing for’ or managing rather than responding to channel access trends.

Qmatic technologies helped facilitate these face-to-face changes, with customers choosing services they need independently on two touchscreens, which incorporate partner providers such as the Department for Work and Pensions. They have also provided screens with live wait time information so that people can make informed choices about service access.

‘An improved customer experience means serving visitors with the right information, through the right channel in the right time; ultimately getting the basics right.’ said Tom Walker, business relationship manager, customer services at Basildon Borough Council.

‘Qmatic helped us to identify how to make the guided self-service theory a practical reality with its enabling technologies, helping to deliver a slick customer journey here in Basildon. The systems create the right impression for an organisation focused on harnessing technology across the business and creating opportunity for the people of Basildon.’

Lee Washbrook, manager of customer services at Basildon Borough Council said that as a consequence of the partnership with Qmatic, the council have been able to report an increase in customer satisfaction by 2%.

‘It might not sound a lot but we are pleased with this given all of the changes that we made as part of the programme,’ said Washbrook.

See also: Wokingham Borough Council builds cross-channel customer support

‘We were expecting to see a slight dip in satisfaction levels while our customers acclimatised to the new system and layout, as it can be challenging to garner support for such bold changes. So this is a promising sign and we anticipate satisfaction levels to continue to rise.’

Qmatic advised on the physical design of the service centre, such as not having the self-check-in too close to the entry door to allow time for customers to adjust and prevent blocking the entrance to the Centre. Live performance information about waiting times from Qmatic’s software now enables the council to filter queries more effectively meaning there are fewer and smaller queues at the door and less time waiting for general enquiries. In addition to this, the Council has shifted focus to helping customers to help themselves and, in doing so, hopes to empower them with available self-service technologies – reducing demand to the most costly transaction channel – face to face.

Physical barriers have been removed and two self-service touch screens are now in place in the reception area. These are accompanied by automated payment kiosks and tablet-enabled mobile advisors. Customers are no longer required to check-in; on arrival they simply choose the services they want to access via the best channel.

Reports from Qmatic’s software highlight peaks in visitor numbers for Basildon Council who uses the information to communicate proactively with the customers who are visiting the service centre at those busy times. Via media screens situated throughout the contact centre, for example, the council can broadcast updates and notices on topics such as direct debit take-up, advertising tickets to the Basildon pantomime and advising any changes in services.

‘Basildon Council has a huge breadth of services operating out of one building which need multi-faceted support,’ Steve Williams, managing director at Qmatic UK, said.

‘Working closely with the council, we have been able to change customers’ experience – people are attracted to the new system and think that it looks smart. Overall it has been viewed as a positive change, rather than change or even a service loss. Advisors are more mobile and able to do more to offer a more personalised service through a richer and broader base of advice. About a third of the UK local government uses Qmatic in this way and we’re very happy that we’ve been able to help Basildon empower its visitors and increase its customer satisfaction levels.”

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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