Working with Barnet Council to transform their customers digital journey and experience

As customer interaction and access requirements have evolved, there is more customer demand than ever for digital accessibility and performance from local authorities.

Barnet Council prides itself on consistently providing an outstanding service to its customers and aims to be at the forefront of local government when delivering digital services and customer experience to residents and businesses.

The Council are encouraging all customers who can, to avoid the queues and ‘self-serve’. Through taking a customer-focused approach, the council want to reduce customer frustrations, ensure a quicker, smoother and more successful process and make all-important cost savings at a time where budgets are tighter than ever before.

To achieve this ambition, the council has developed a Customer Access Strategy as part of their Customer Transformation Programme and have worked with Capita’s digital and customer experience team to transform and improve the council’s digital experience for its customers.

Supporting the delivery of Barnet Council’s Customer Access Strategy

By 2020, Barnet Council’s Customer access strategy intends for the majority of council customer interactions to take place via the web and other self-service channels.

Capita’s digital and customer experience team worked alongside Barnet Council’s Customer Transformation team to deliver a programme of work over two years, through four work streams and actions to support this goal.

The four work streams include:

Work stream 1: Delivering more online transactions that integrate with the Council’s internal database and processes

Work stream 2: Designing and delivering a new look website for Barnet Council

Work stream 3: Improve services and drive digital take-up doing more to encourage low cost channels (web) in preference to traditional (face to face and telephone).

Work stream 4: Address Digital Inclusion to help customers work with the Council online, and to help them use the internet in their daily lives.

What we did across the four phases:
• Improved the ‘My Account’ customers experience through the introduction of new communications features and enhanced security. This helped Barnet Council to make iterative changes across the platform in an agile manner.
• Introduced the ability for the customers to track their requests and historical interactions with the Council. This will enable proactive notifications to customers as and when statuses change.
• Introduced social media authentication for customers on ‘My Account’ using Facebook or Google logins – saving the need for another password to be remembered.
• The improved function also allows customers to order, schedule and pay for a number of new services in one smooth transaction online.
• Streamlined waste, recycling and problem report forms which has resulted in customers taking less time to complete their online interactions.
• Introduced the ability to save forms mid-way through and return to them later securely.
• Consulted with 5,000 customers about what they wanted from a new council website. After 300 hours of staff workshops, 250 hours of residents focus groups and 1000 hours of user acceptance testing a new-look website was created. Take a look at
• Implemented changes to the website to ensure key information and processes were presented in a customer centric way.
• Developed a communications strategy to drive behaviour change supporting key channel shift for high volume service areas and enabling demand reduction initiatives
• Supported new Contact Centre telephone menu structures to improve signposting to digital channels
• Led communication audits in key service areas, reviewing messaging, stationary, and processes to ensure alignment with digital by choice agenda.
• Conducted several resident workshops to gather information from end users on how the Council could improve customer experience using digital services to ensure that nobody is left behind. Participants were engaged across different backgrounds, ages, genders and abilities.
• Supported targeted communications to address the key concerns that act as a barrier to digitally-able customers transacting with the council, namely concerns about data security and privacy.
• Developed the website to comply with best practice AA accessibility standards, ensuring residents with visual impairments are able to access and interact with the Council in the same way non-impaired residents are able to.

The outcomes
• There has been an ongoing smooth transition of existing account holders to the new ‘My Account’ platform without interrupting access to their existing service subscriptions. 18,764 accounts were migrated, and an email campaign was launched targeting 30,000 users who had been inactive for over 18 months, with 11% conversion rate.
• Over 34,000 new ‘My Accounts’ have been set up
• Customers have completed over 30,000 successful transactions in the first full year of the new ‘My Account’ set up.
• There has been 30.5% overall increase in form submissions after the first year
• The new website site now provides quicker and easier access to residents’ top tasks, improved navigation and search functions and an easily adaptable homepage to focus on key issues like elections when they occur. Work has also taken place to improve the relevance and consistency of content across the site.
• A 46% increase in digital transactions (Mar 18 to Feb 19, compared to Mar 16 to Feb 17)
• 5% reduction in call volumes (Sep 18 to Feb 19, compared to same period previous year), despite significant operational changes, e.g. new bin collection rounds across entire borough.
• Key insight from workshops and campaigns informed decision-making when designing customer transactions and website designs
• All measures put in place supported uptake in web transactions and website usage versus reduction in face to face and telephony transactions.

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