Councillors set for update on what will replace the Contact Centre on Lord Street when it closes later this year
Councillors will delve into the future of the council’s move to more digital customer services at a meeting later this week, a journey that they are told has “accelerated due to the coronavirus pandemic”.
All such face-to-face services from the council were suspended from March 2020 and as a result a move to digital and ‘agile working’ methods has meant more people are now contacting the local authority via online channels.
Councillors are set to debate an update to the evolution of customer service provision at Wrexham Council, with a move away from the ‘traditional service focused contact centre’ to a more digitised customer support model “…that enables customers to access digital communication channels and respond to enquiries across a range of contacts including phone, email and web chat”.
The focus on customer services comes as part of the ICT & Digital Strategy 2020-23 that was adopted by Council last year, which along with the Council Plan all has a direction of moving towards a more modern ‘digital council’.
The report before councillors notes “customer behaviour, both internally and externally, has changed” with the usual benefits of digital working listed – speed of communications and cost savings.
A new “Customer Access Standards” document is being developed and will see “all services working together to deliver quality online services 24/7, enabling customers to self-serve with confidence, and therefore enabling us to focus our resources and support on those who need it most”.
Several areas are coming under the Customer Services Review including looking at the future of Contact Wrexham’s face to face service delivery. The contact centre on Lord Street covers a range of public facing services such as benefits, blue badges, environmental services and various housing help.
There is a ‘proposed move’ from Lord Street in December this year referred to in the report that could be due to leases coming to an end, making it a convenient time for Wrexham Council to reassess options.
The building itself was recently sold in 2019 for £1.6m at public auction after being listed with a guide price of £1.7m – the sales particulars at the time noted that Wrexham Council were renting the building until 2022. Wrexham.com understands there was no participation in that auction by Wrexham Council.
The report does not state what the options will be for the future of the face to face service but the meeting this week may have a verbal update on what the plans are.
The council is ‘exploring opportunities’ to create a community hub model as part of the Library Service Review, along with developing a “multi-media contact centre – telephone, email and web chat”.
Such moves are hoped will see an “increase in customer satisfaction” and “improved resolution of enquiries” with the expectation more queries will be dealt with at the point of contact due to the new systems.
One example of the improvements being a success is given, including the “…ability to quickly design and record telephony messaging. This has been especially useful during the recent garden waste campaign and has evidenced a large shift to online sign up.”
Councillors will probe the report at a meeting of the Customers, Performance, Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.
(Wrexham.com will of course be tuning in to the meeting as usual, but we are also interested to see if the council’s digital agile modern way of working to enable better public service and cost saving is genuine or still includes them, or telling others, sticking pricey notices in the back of increasingly less read paper publications to inform you what is going on locally.)
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