Digitising parking permits in Southampton

Southampton City Council had the challenge of achieving £39.1m of cost savings by 2016/17 and have undergone significant efficiency measures to help them do ‘more with less’.

However, with the savings target set to rise to £81.4m by 2019/20, the Council needed to find new ways to unlock further value for their services. 

Recognising the digital benefits and expectations of their service users, we began working alongside the Council to undertake an incremental digital transformation programme across a number of key services to make them more flexible, convenient for users and affordable for the Council. 

Digitising the Council’s parking permit service was one of the projects within the transformation programme. Our digital specialists team worked with the Council to deliver an online parking permit application and renewal service, which continued to support those without online access or digital capability.

Previously, when residents needed to apply or renew their parking permit they had to phone the Council or arrange face to face meetings, costing the Council between £5 and £15 per transaction.

The Council was already introducing e-forms for parking applications and renewals to their website. However, an end-to-end review of the customer journey was needed to ensure people used the online facilities, customers had a better experience and the Council could maximise the operational benefits.

Download the full case study.

Our approach

Customer journey mapping

We initially focused on reviewing the steps a customer takes when applying for or renewing their parking permit. This helped to identify ‘pain points’ for customers and areas that could be improved to increase digital uptake and the customer experience.

We held cross-functional customer journey mapping sessions with representatives from the web, parking and customer service teams to understand how customers were interacting with the service, and how they would in future. Customer personas were developed to better understand the different types of users to ensure their needs were catered for.

Small changes make a big difference

When making a permit application, we found that a customer needed to provide specific information and have access to printing facilities to complete the e-form. However, customers weren’t made aware of this before completing the form. As a result, there was a trend towards customers abandoning their online application in favour of completing the transaction over the phone or face to face. By understanding this issue, we amended the online content up-font to increase more digital transactions being completed.

Using this insight, we designed an improved end-to-end customer journey for parking permit applications, encouraged digital uptake to reduce telephone and face to face interactions, but also protected people who were unable to get online.

Call routing and IVR changes

The role of automated switchboards and customer advisers are crucial customer touchpoints when encouraging people to use the online facilities. We designed and implemented a new interactive voice routing (IVR) script, which played automated messages that encouraged digital uptake, ahead of being put through to an adviser. Telephone-based support was also prioritised for vulnerable residents.

Digital inclusion

Customer service advisers encouraged residents still using traditional, offline methods to self-serve online. If customers were unable to get online, they were offered face-to-face assisted support by customer advisers at the Gateway, Southampton City Council’s one-stop-shop, equipped with online and scanning facilities. This allowed customers to learn how to self-serve and increased the number of residents able to benefit from the online parking application and renewal process. 

The Impact

Reviewing and digitally optimising the customer journey has delivered a range of benefits for Southampton. This includes:

Reducing call volumes for parking enquiries by 62%, equating to approximately £60,000 worth of savings per year Demand in the face to face service has dropped from 770 appointments per month (January to June 2016) to 475 (February to April 2017).

This fall in demand, combined with a reduction to the ‘time to transact’, has resulted in the reduction of weekly opening hours from 45.5 to 35 since October 2016, creating monthly savings of £49,500 per year

In the first year, 2795 parking permit submissions were made online.

“I enjoyed working with a great team from Capita to re-design the parking permit application and renewals process. Cross functional workshops saw representatives from many areas working together putting the Customer at the heart to streamline processes, provide an online option whilst reducing the cost to serve. Overall a great success that puts Southampton First and at the forefront of Digital change”.

Richard Alderson, Service Manager Parking and Itchen Bridge, Southampton City Council

“We want to improve outcomes for our residents, whilst prioritising our resources so they are used where they are most needed. So, we are delivering more services online, working with communities to help them to do more for themselves, and exploring new and innovative ways of delivering services in the city.”

Southampton City Council 

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