Erewash Borough Council

Customer access strategy

This strategy sets out our commitment to our customers and aims to put the customer first – at the heart of everything the council does and recognises the importance of the diversity of customers’ needs in Erewash.

Our aim is

To deliver easy to use services that encourage and enable greater independence for our customers and improved value for money for the council.
To encourage customers who are able to self-serve so that we can focus our resources on the people who need our help the most.
Like most local authorities across the country, we are having to deliver against reducing budgets and an increase in demand for our services. Customers’ expectations are changing too they want to be able to contact us 24/7, enabled by the rapid growth in the use of mobile devices, social media and high speed broadband.
In order to keep pace with this change, we need a clear strategy for how we will use available technology to increase avenues for access to council services, to continue to improve service delivery and respond to our customers’ expectations whilst ensuring we provide value for money.
This strategy sets out how we will turn our vision into a reality for our customers. It explains how we will meet customers’ needs and demands using our resources effectively and make sure all our customers have access to the services they need irrespective of their circumstances.
But perhaps most importantly, it outlines how we will strengthen customer relationships, improving the experience and increasing satisfaction by continuing to work closely with our customers to ensure their needs are met.

Why do we need a Customer Access Strategy?

People regularly use the internet for all kinds of reasons. Being able to ‘self-serve’ at a time to suit gives people greater control and independence and puts them in touch with the information and services they require any time of
the day or night. We want to encourage and support more of our customers and communities to have these same choices too.
This strategy sets out how we will make it easier and more attractive for people to access services online, whilst at the same time making the best use of technology to work in a cost effective way. Increasing the number of people
who regularly ‘self-serve’ rather than choosing to phone or visit the council offices, will help us target our resources more effectively to prioritise the people and communities who need help the most.
We also understand that self-serve and doing business online isn’t for everyone. Our communities are diverse and so are their needs and preferences, we will do all that we can to meet these. Customers will still be able to contact us by phone or visit us in person at the town halls in Ilkeston and Long Eaton. We will use this strategy to harness the power of technology positively to tackle exclusion from services and communities, ensuring everyone has equal access to the information and help they need regardless of their individual circumstances.

Did you know that

  • Over 18,000 people have already signed up for a ‘My Erewash’ account, giving them 24/7 access to council services including Council Tax and Housing Benefits (as at December 2019).
  • From September 2018 until December 2019 we have received over 32,087 online forms for a range of service requests – a much easier and faster way to tell us about the things that matter to you and no postage costs either.
  • You can pay online for a range of services, as well as via the telephone payment line. ‘Liking’ our Facebook page means you will regularly receive information and news about Council services, events, consultation and much more.
  • Following us on Twitter means you will regularly receive Council news as it happens.

Our customers tell us

“I want to be able to have my enquiry dealt with there and then, without being passed about or waiting for someone to call me back” – Make it easy!
“I’m busy, so I prefer to do things online. It would be great to be able to get text messages or to look online to see where my request is up to rather than having to phone up” – Keep me updated!
“I expect to be able to do all my business online including online payments” – Give me online services!

Doing things digitally

By expanding the services we provide digitally our customers will benefit from a wider choice of online services – all of which will be accessible any time of the day or night giving customers immediate access to information and advice
and a written record that can be saved to their own devices.
When we talk about ‘Digital’ we mean the Council’s website, social media (Facebook, Twitter), and My Erewash account.
Working digitally means that we are able to promote news, events and opportunities, and talk to our customers and communities much faster, at the touch of a button.
There is always room for improvement and we want to make our online access easier and give our customers an even better experience so they increasingly choose to access services in this way.

We will

  • Make as many of our services available online as we can so that you can do what you need to do at a time to suit yourself without having to contact the council using other means.
  • Increase the number of services you can access through your ‘My Erewash’ Account and make it easier for you to register by using your social media account details (such as Facebook, Twitter).
  • Make sure our online services are designed for use on smartphones and tablets so that you can use mobile devices to access council services regardless of the device you use.
  • Make it easier for you to book and pay for events and services online or by using smartphones.
  • Provide more online forms so that we can help you to provide us with the specific information we need rather than expecting you to tell us in an email.
  • Where possible allow customers to upload copies of documents online instead of asking them to provide original paper versions.
  • Make sure our digital services meet accessibility standards.
  • Make use of social media to stimulate online interest and increase participation.
  • Make sure you know what to do and where to go if things go wrong or something is really urgent.
  • Offer choice but actively support online communication to reduce the amount of letters and paper documents we use.
  • Keep up to date with new technology so that we can continue offering you a greater choice of digital ‘self-serve’.

Help and support for all our customers

Some of our customers may not be aware of the digital services currently available to them and we know we need to do more to promote them. Other people want to do more on-line but don’t currently feel able to. This could be due to a lack of confidence in new technologies, or nervousness about the digital security of conducting business in this way.
For others, the cost of equipment and mobile or broadband availability might prevent them from accessing services digitally. Whatever the reason, we want to do all we can to help as many people as possible to enjoy the benefits that being online can bring.
Delivering services digitally is not a ‘digital or nothing’ offer. Where customers are new to digital channels, lack confidence or simply lack facilities to get online, we will help and support them.
We will do this where appropriate by providing an assisted digital service. We will ensure all our customers can access the services and support they require in the most effective and efficient manner.
By having self-serve and assisted digital offers side by side, we will provide a single customer service experience, the customer will use it independently to self-serve, and our staff will help those customers who require additional support.

We will

Encourage customers to make use of digital self-serve so they can find out about the things that matter to them – not just council services.

  • Promote available online services at every opportunity to increase interest and awareness.
  • Provide digital assistance so that customers who need help feel supported and able to access the services they need. This might mean showing people how to set up an email address or helping them to complete an online form. Whatever their needs are, we aim to support customers in a way that best suits their situation and reason for contacting us.
  • Enable all our frontline staff to support customers to access online services, equipping them, so they can show customers how to find information and services using devices they are more familiar with.
  • Work with our communities, partners, voluntary sector and charitable organisations to implement schemes that are designed to increase digital inclusion.
  • Make sure our services are accessible so that regardless of anyone’s personal situation, no one feels disadvantaged. We realise that going online isn’t for everyone and for some services there may be other self-serve options available too. Customers will still be able to contact us by phone or visit us in person at the town halls in Ilkeston and Long Eaton.

Your experience matters

Regardless of the type of enquiry, or the way a customer accesses a service, we need to make sure their experience is a good one. Our customers should not be expected to know or understand how each council department works,
but they should be able to expect excellent customer service and things done right the first time.
Our goal is for the customer of the future to be able to access the services they need through the most appropriate channel. Routine transactions will be conducted via online self-serve. Customers will have the ability to create their own public service account to pay for parking permits, check their council tax balance and check progress of a service request, receive updates and information messages with real time information.

We will

  • Encourage your feedback by making it easy for you to tell us what you think about the way we deliver our services.
  •  Listen and respond to what you tell us, take your views into account to influence change and make sure we tell you what we have done as a result.
  • Redesign our services by removing unnecessary tasks so your customer journey is as short and simple as possible and you only have to tell your story once.
  • Review the range of telephone numbers we use so that where there is a need to provide a service in this way, it is as easy and simple as possible.
  • Be clear about the different stages of a process or service request and the timescales involved so you know what to expect and by when.
  • Make the most of every contact by making you aware of other services that might be of benefit to you should you so wish.
  • Provide our staff with appropriate training to deliver great customer service and set clear standards to enable us to measure if this is achieved.
  • Encourage our workforce to think digitally and continuously look for ways we can improve our service delivery.
  • Acknowledge when we are wrong and take steps to put things right as quickly as possible (see our complaints policy for more information).

How will we know if we have delivered?

Our overall measure of success will be the level of customer satisfaction with our services. We will make sure that customers can contact us easily and access more services online. We will measure some contact in more detail such as complaints and feedback, how many customers use online services and how many customers we support through digital independence.
We will develop a detailed way to monitor and manage the benefits that will be delivered. We will measure our progress through a set of customer service performance indicators and consistent service standards.

Success will look like:

  • More highly engaged customers for example more customers will create a My Erewash account, and the number of online forms submitted will increase.
  • Growth in digital registrations and transactions.
  • More ‘active’ users.
  • Number of requests for service, support and information delivered within the council’s agreed service standards.
  • A reduction in overall face to face contact and contact by telephone.
  • More calls will be answered within our agreed service standards.
  • Better understanding of emerging issues as a result of improved intelligence.
  • Overall ‘cost to serve’ will reduce.
  • Customer satisfaction with individual services will improve.
  • Overall customer satisfaction with the council will improve.
  • Number of digital engagements will increase such as posts to social media platforms – number of likes and shares.