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Published May 2021
In the last 10 years the number of people wanting to communicate, interact and transact through digital channels has steadily increased. Modern organisations see digital change in a positive light, not only to make them more customer focused, environmentally friendly and immediate but also to enable agile and flexible working for their employees.
In the last few years, the council’s use of digital channels has grown, the people of Norwich have adapted and taken full advantage of the services we have already made digital including parking permits and reporting service issues. We have seen residents willing to adopt a new form of customer experience – self-serve. They have embraced on their terms, when and how they want to interact with us.
Covid-19 has quickened the pace of change. Who could have imagined 18 months ago that the way in which many people work and where they work from would change so dramatically? That so many people would shop online and that for many people using cash would be a thing of the past.
This, coupled with the way in which the council, voluntary organisations and local communities stepped up to the plate to help those who did not have the ability, experience, or resources to operate in a virtual world has changed things forever.
In publishing our first combined customer experience and digital strategy we will have a framework for how the whole council can work together with its residents to reshape how we deliver services and how people request and use them.
This strategy is not about one size fits all, it is about adapting to customer needs, not confining how people interact with us but finding the most effective way. This is about helping those who can self-serve but being mindful that some residents will still need our help and assistance.
Councillor Gail Harris
Deputy leader and social housing
This strategy will support our internal change programme which is Future Shape Norwich (FSN) and the Covid recovery plan. These have committed the council to learning lessons from how services adapted during the initial phase of Covid, and to consider how they could be delivered differently to enable the council to become more resilient, modern and flexible.
The benefits will deliver more efficient services for the organisation and will enable the workforce to be less reliant on operating services from one location.
The strategy will be reviewed each year and updated if required.
It will underpin the delivery of the council’s key priorities:
- inclusive economy
- people living well
- great neighbourhoods, housing, and environment
- healthy organisation.
It will inform how the teams across the council are going to collaborate to deliver effective experiences for our customers. The council will harness technology and digital opportunities to make services easier to access and make sure that they are accessible for those who are not digitally enabled.
We will provide modern solutions and systems to maximise the potential for the workforce to help us focus on:
- protecting those with complex and varying needs
- supporting and empowering communities to do more for themselves.
Shaping the strategy – consultation and engagement
This strategy has been created using a range of insight and data as well as feedback gathered from workshops and customer user experience.
- feedback from community participation
- workshops with organisation and councillors
- performance data
- specialist knowledge
- external expertise – digital solutions architect
- best practice examples.
Customer insight input
- customer journey maps and user experience
- avoidable contact reports
- surveys – staff and customer
- complaints, councillor, and MP enquiries
- website analysis
- customer user experience feedback
- channel shift data
- quality monitoring.
To make Norwich City Council a digital first organisation, enabling and empowering people, where possible, to engage with us online.
We will transform the relationship between customers and the council – putting more power in the hands of communities and being more responsive to their needs.
We will support and serve using digital tools that are easy to access and reliable, continuing to provide quality services for those who are not digitally enabled or those with complex needs.
How we will do this
Through this strategy we will help to improve our services, so the customer experience is more positive.
We will deliver:
- Smarter services
- A digital workforce
- Better data sharing
Through increased channel shift – we will create and develop our digital services so that customers will use them by default.
Enabled workforce > Enabled customers > Enabled communities
CX: stands for customer experience
When our customers use our services, we understand that they have different expectations and many factors can result in having either a good or bad experience. By understanding where the problems lie across the end-to-end journey, we can improve those customer experiences. Improving our digital services and increasing take up will enable us to focus resources on providing quality services to support those that have complex cases and are most in need.
Research (customer digital index 2020) suggests that 92% (UK average 92%) of people in the East of England are online and 84% (UK average 78%) have essential digital skills for life.
We provide services to customers who are:
- online by default offering them easy to use online information and services.
- could and would if supported or encouraged
- we offer them motivation to use our online information and services, we encourage them online at every contact, our staff signpost them to digital access and support, and when appropriate offer help to grow digital skills and confidence.
Tools for the digitally supported:
- frontline staff trained in digital coaching skills
- digital skills support through the inclusion project from trained volunteers, with a range of support offers available in the community
- free digital access at our buildings and a network of community buildings across the city where people can go online for free by using our digital hubs
- access to equipment to use at home through the digital stuff hub programme
- local partnership groups who can offer specialist support for residents.
Unable to access digital services
- unable to use digital
- we provide the appropriate offline services to fit their need over the telephone or by appointment.
Digital: stands for the electronic end to end delivery of information
This includes customer information across different systems and devices like web or mobile. Information is presented in a way that is easy to use and understand and typically involves transactional services such as submitting forms for processing and receiving benefits.
The majority of services are available online and data shows that many customers are accessing them; however, we have inconsistent and varying levels
of digital maturity across the organisation. For example, our parking service offers an end-to-end digital service with virtual permits and has over 60% take up, however several services offer nothing online. There is also a high level of avoidable contact, of which the majority is unnecessary clarification followed by progress chasing. This has the potential to be reduced if customers have access to their information and receive progress updates on their enquiries. Therefore, there is great opportunity to develop our services, so they provide better experiences for customers and increase take up.
Benefits of digital
|Benefits for customers||Benefits for partners||Benefits for the organisation|
|Convenient access to services 24/7||Improved sharing of data||Reduce transaction costs and time|
|Secure access anywhere from any device||Focus prevention||Improve business processes|
|Easy to access appointment service||Co-ordinated service delivery||Redeploy resources to areas of need|
|Responsive and streamline service||Shared resources||Automate business transactions|
|Easy to access services||-||Improved agility across workforce|
|Status updates||Improved data quality and consistency|
|Ability for feedback to be provided||Quicker, upfront payments|
|Contact details updated on all systems||Field workers spend more time in the field|
|Improved accuracy of data||Data drives service design|
|Focus on prevention|
Customer, IT and digital (CID) board
The board includes representatives from across the organisation and provides the governance for projects and new initiatives to ensure a collective digital first approach. Opening briefs are presented to the board who make decisions on progress and prioritisation. Change will be delivered incrementally, continuously assessing against this strategy and outcomes.
Customer, IT and digital road map – our plan
The road map schedules and prioritises agreed projects for development of systems and technology that enable services to digitally transform. This is regularly monitored and reported back to the CID board. Once projects are complete, the maintenance becomes business as usual.
We will be guided by the government digital design principles
(outlined by government digital service GDS)
- Put the customer first.
- Become a digital first organisation.
- Design to operate without human intervention.
- Move from reactive to preventative.
- Work with others as one service.
- Easy to access services/right first time.
- Ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
- Flexibility and constant review.
- Do it once, do it right.
- Design for inclusion.
The council has less funding available to meet demand for services and needs to transform. Digital services that are end to end and easy to access, providing quality information to deliver positive outcomes, are key enablers to meeting the requirements to deliver continuous service improvements with less funds.
To achieve this, we will:
- continue to invest in a modern infrastructure and decommission old legacy systems
- utilise cloud-based solutions where applicable
- integrate services and systems by investing in web services and API (application programming interface)
- consolidate accurate and consistent customer information using a digital platform (master data management)
- develop digital services that provides customers with updates
- deliver improvements to the website using feedback to enhance content and ensure it is user friendly and easy to locate information and services
- ensure website accessibility standards are exceeded to ensure diversity of usage
- investigate the potential benefits of implementing a virtual assistant for the website to help customers access information and services
- provide e-billing and e-notifications for all relevant services
- explore collaborative opportunities to develop digital services through our local digital declaration membership
- review and update customer service standards.
Digitally capable people with solutions and equipment that enable the organisation to be flexible, resilient, and digital first. Encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace by equipping staff with the digital tools, skills and knowledge necessary to fulfil their potential.
To achieve this, we will:
- review and challenge business processes to embrace digital innovation, not simply copy and create onerous solutions to address current business practice
- put user experience and customer focus at the heart of all of our services and design them to be fully digital
- moniter and improve digital services using feedback from customer user experience
- promote a culture in which all business change should be considered through a digital lens
- communicate digital solutions across the organisation and promote for external customer take up
- move to an environment where technology is an enabler for a flexible workforce
- ensure tools and services are consistently available on corporate devices that support flexible working
- develop a collaborative environment that enables our staff and partners to work together seamlessly regardless of their role or working patterns
- publish the IT roadmap that supports service transformation so that the workforce has clear visibility of projects, priorities and status
- provide customers with digital support in their local communities.
Data and customer information is core; it provides us with knowledge and it needs to be secure and easily accessible. Our ambition is to provide customers with one front door to their information and services to reduce the need for multiple interactions and improve their customer experience.
To achieve this, we will:
- develop a consistent and integrated single view of the customer
- enable customers to view their information and request services via their online account
- use our customer insight to make informed decisions that shape the design and direction of our services
- use the tell-us-once methodology to deliver multiple services, reducing duplication of workloads and minimising data errors
- ensure all data is secure, accessible, and available so that customers and council staff can make informed decisions
- use data to be proactive with customers, sharing information across services and automatically
- share data securely with our partners
- use data to support proactive business actions and to enhance strategic planning.
Increased channel shift
We need to continue to develop our digital services so that they are consistent, responsive and easy to use so that customers will use them by default.
This requires an organisational approach to change that needs to be embedded across the entire authority to realise digital transformation.
A digital response to council priorities
Enable access to customer information through a "single sign in" customer account
Personalised information available to all customers and workforce using API (application programming interface)
End to end automation, updates and fast real time response
- cannot easily find information and services online resort to calling, writing or visiting to try to resolve their enquiry
- do not get updates on their enquiries and service requests and end up contacting for clarification and for progress updates (avoidable contact)
- usually have to contact multiple departments to achieve a single outcome, like changing their address, because the systems do not ‘speak’ to one another
- can access Digital Hub points in the community and receive support in most parts of the city, but this coverage is not universal in geography or timings.
- does not have adequate flexible working solutions
- no access to live data when working remotely and information must be updated into systems back in the office
- unable to view all customers’ data without interrogating all systems for information
- management of debt is in silo which does not enable the organisation or customer to effectively manage.
- can access services online at any time that suits them
- can access their information through their online account and receive status updates on progress of enquiries
- can look up, inform or request services which will automatically deal with their enquiry, updating their details without further intervention
- can access a range of Digital Hub points in their local area at a variety of venues and at different times, and with specialist support available.
- will be provided with flexible working solutions so they are well connected wherever they work
- have access to be able to complete transactions onsite, enabling them to use their time more effectively
- will develop a master data system that enables services to be proactive and provides opportunities for the delivery of joined-up services
- will have the ability to manage customers through a single view of their information.
Resourcing the delivery
Existing resources within the Customer, IT and digital service and the transformation team along with service area leads and skills who will form part of the delivery team.
Additional resources and investment may be required depending on the organisational capacity and the investment needed. These requests will require a business case that will be considered through the CID board and alongside the existing “Future Shape Norwich” programme.
Monitoring and reporting progress
- managing programme of projects using the road map reviewed at the CID board
- take up of digital online services and reduction in telephone and face to face contact
- usage of our website and improved accessibility compliance.
- increased take up of customer accounts and e-billing
- reduced stationery and postage costs
- decreased avoidable contact
- increased satisfaction and improved customer user experience of services
- monitoring of staff and member feedback from CID annual survey and action plans to address and track improvements
- monitor and evaluate learner satisfaction with the digital inclusion project
- calculating the total cost of ownership as part of digital change and realising the benefits and efficiencies
- monitoring of data security including data breaches.
Opportunities for digital
Channel shift trends – the data shows that the volume of customers contacting us face to face has declined significantly, telephone contact is decreasing and there has been a significant increase for digital take up since the introduction of web forms for services on our website.
Phone and digital comparison – few service areas deliver digital services. We still have plenty of opportunities to deliver digital across the organisation.