Plans to redesign Norwich City Council’s customer centre into a modern, welcoming and flexible space are underway, with refurbishment due to begin this May.
The new-look centre is being designed to reflect the way customers increasingly choose to interact with the council and many other organisations – online and, wherever possible, via self-service.
Adapting the centre to support self-service will improve efficiency for residents, while allowing officers to spend time with those who need support or have complex cases. The centre’s free Wi-Fi and digital solutions will also help any residents transitioning to Universal Credit, which can only be claimed online, when it is rolled out later this year.
When the new centre opens in the autumn, the current drop-in arrangement will be replaced by tools for self-service and an appointment system for essential face to face contact. Services such as council tax and housing repairs have already removed the facility to drop in and speak to an adviser at City Hall.
A 14-week closure of the current centre will begin on Monday 7 May. Interim arrangements are being finalised and will include an alternative location close to City Hall for customer appointments.
Councillor Matthew Packer, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for customer contact, said: “The customer centre is in need of refurbishment, and this will be an important milestone in our work to achieve a digital-first customer approach.
“Thousands of customers are already choosing to use our website to access council services, and this new environment will enable more residents to self-serve while still allowing us to provide in-person support for those that need it.”
The refurbishment, which will be managed by Norwich Property Services (NPS), is being funded by existing budgets allocated for refurbishment in City Hall.
Thousands of residents opt to use the council’s website every day. Over 20,000 people already manage their parking online, 10,000 have customer accounts and more than 70 online forms allow customers to report issues and apply for services.
The new centre will have fixed tablets and scanning facilities, as well as floor walkers who will be able to assist customers to use them.
All front facing employees have had digital coach training, and are able to assist and signpost customers who are unable to access online services. The combination of appointments and digital support will allow us to provide an individual service for those most in need.