Project contact: Dr Lianne Viney
Writing and maintaining content is hard and expensive. Around 80% of what all local authorities do is shared by others. Where possible, we should capitalise on the content which is common to all public sector organisations and allow others to contribute to a best practice platform. Administer it once and become curators rather than creators.
Customers present themselves to reception and call centre staff, with queries that require the knowledge of specialist teams from within the Council. Sometimes a customer has read the generic advice on the Council's website but is still unclear if it applies in their specific circumstances. Often similar questions come up multiple times. Finding the answer takes time and effort. The result is duplication and inefficiencies in advice delivery.
Our proposal is to bring together a group of customer service heads to undertake a piece of collective analysis that will produce an informed approach to a digital shared knowledge base platform.
By capturing the expert responses to frequently asked and specific questions, it would be possible to move some of the back office knowledge to the front line. This would be conducive to reductions in duplication, increases in efficiency and improvements to customer service.
It is our experience that public sector organisations are struggling to come up with the answer to reduce the duplication of sourcing responses to FAQ’s. The real value of this consultation exercise is to get customer service professionals talking about their individual services, to learn from others, and understand the range of digital tools available that could play a part in the solution.
Shifting knowledge to the front line of customer contact would reduce the resource required to service the enquiry. It is not practical or cost effective to physically shift these expert teams to front of house. Instead, we should empower the customer-facing teams to confidently deliver best-practice advice. This transition would result in better customer service and increased efficiencies.
Moving to a world where content is centrally administered and contributed to by multiple sources brings cost and resource savings. The effort required to write large volumes of content is significantly reduced by sharing it with others. Any changes to the broader landscape can be centrally managed ensuring the content is as accurate as possible. By bringing field experts (e.g. Universal Credit) and content writing skills under one roof, we can develop best-practice examples that can be reused and repurposed by many.
The report will have significant value to all participating customer service leads, not only offering in-depth analysis of their local position but contrasting that against other local authorities, detailing technology that can support their digital vision and offer ways to move their digital advice delivery forward.
There is also a possibility that the resulting report will be of interest to non-participating local authorities once complete. Such interest may encourage the ongoing maintenance and growth of the insight and analysis underpinning the report, and could result in a repository and a supporting income stream, all of which would be accessible and offer ongoing value to co-funding partners.
It is our expressed intention that this piece of collaborative research will form the basis of a digital solution which aims to reduce the duplication and effort of sourcing responses to frequently asked questions. In turn, this will enable front-line staff to deliver better customer service more efficiently and allow customers to self-serve answers digitally.
We intend this solution to be available to all local authorities, via a subscription-based service, with collective ownership and the result not only of this consultation but of local authority co-design and co-production.