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Friday, 31.05.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001
A contact centre which helps residents with their planning enquiries has won South Gloucestershire Council a national commendation for improving overall service delivery.

Caron Bentley of the Council's Business Improvement Team highlights how the planning contact centre is driving through wider changes in service delivery across the local authority.

South Gloucestershire Council recently received a special commendation from the judges of the Innovation of the Year Award, sponsored by the Professional Planning Forum, an independent industry body who support effective resourcing and planning in the contact centre industry. The award process is open to both Private and Public sector organisations and this year saw a record of five Councils reaching the finalist stage. Faced with stiff competition reaching the finalist stage, to be represented our award and to receive a 'special commendation', based on the Planning Transport and Strategic Environment Contact Centre, was further recognition of the hard work and creative approach of the Council.

South Gloucestershire is in the South West of England, approximately 120 miles West of London and immediately North of Bristol. South Gloucestershire covers approximately 49,700 hectares and has a population or potential customer base of around 252,000 people. In the next few years the population is expected to continue to grow by approximately 2,500 per annum. South Gloucestershire Council would be classed as a small Council and receives lower than average funding levels than other authorities, yet it has to deliver the same modernising agenda irrespective of the budget.

The challenge for South Gloucestershire Council and many other smaller Councils is how!

Paul Appleton, Head of Information Management, Business Support & E-Government comments: "Like all councils, we have an exacting agenda to deliver and not only in the E-Government arena. Our approach therefore needs to be innovative, creative and pragmatic, as we do not have unlimited resource. We have to combine human capability with the best use of technology."

This creativity is reflected in South Gloucestershire Councils approach to Contact Centres. Instead of implementing one large Contact Centre to cover all of the Councils services SGC has aligned its contact centres with specific service areas. This ensures that the training required by new Customer Service Operators is, in the main, kept to two weeks, therefore reducing the training costs and ensuring staff members become operational in the earliest possible timeframe.

Longer term, the telephony purchased to support the Contact Centres would enable a 'virtual' single site / single number, should the Council deem this to be an appropriate route; though there is still a great deal of resistance from customers to the 'press 1 for…' principle.

The Council is also using contact centres as a catalyst for change and improvement across the wider Service Areas, with contact centres playing a crucial role in identifying and challenging inward facing processes that block effective customer centric service delivery. The improvements tend to move out from the contact centres in ripples, similar to throwing a pebble into a pond.

Many councils are currently considering Business Process Re-engineering projects as part of their E-Government agenda. South Gloucestershire Council is recognised as a ‘Good’ Council and wishes to attain ‘Excellent’. It has therefore chosen to apply, wherever possible, a principle of continuous improvement rather than fundamental re-engineering. This supports contact centres in driving the improvement agenda. It also helps to avoid the performance dip or slump often associated with the 'bedding in' of new processes borne of BPR initiatives.

Though Contacts Centres are the catalyst for change the process of improvement has to be continuous.


Other Public Sector finalists for the Awards included Liverpool City Council (winners of the LA Award), Birmingham City Council, Glasgow City Council and Kirklees Metropolitan Council. Private Sector finalists included household names such as Sky, AOL, HBOS and Prudential.

Autor: Caron Bentley

Quelle: eGov monitor, 31.05.2005

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