An update of the Channel Shift Project will be presented to the Panel and will include information on why Channel Shift is important and details of the current and future work planned. Demonstrations will also be made during the meeting.
The Panel welcomed Corporate Director, Mr. Ian Harrison, to the meeting who introduced Mr. Nick Harding, Head of IT and Facilities, Mr. Seamus McAlister, IT Change Manager, Mr. James Duggin, Contracts Manager and Mr. Philip Roberts, System Administrator.
Mr. Harrison reminded the Panel of the importance of channel shift and the six principles that have been followed. Members were informed that progress had been made since the previous update and a number of departments within the Council had started to carry out their business in a different way. The programme of current and future work was shared, which encouraged a discussion on payment shift; this was described as a mature aspect of the project, an example of success being the number of Council Tax payments made by direct debit, which had increased every year since 2012. It was noted that direct debit payments carried the lowest possible transaction costs.
Reference was made to the Council’s webpage that displayed details on how residents could pay their council tax bill. The demonstration showed the Panel that most references to ‘cash’ as a payment option had been removed from key communications. The website offered a number of other channels, such as, the facilities to set up direct debits online, a 24 hour payment line and information on other locations in the Borough where residents would be able to make a payment to the Council. It was noticed by Members that while a number of new channels had become available, no older channels had been removed. This showed the Panel that people were shifting their own behaviours, as opposed to being forced to channel shift due to a payment method no longer being offered.
The Panel were shown the Customer Service Unit’s service platform that is used to ensure a customer sees the right member of staff, the system then prints out a ticket for the customer and logs the queries received by the reception desk.
Another demonstration included the self-service platform that was in the process of being trialled before going live. This facility would enable customers to set up their own account and access council tax and rubbish collection information as well as arranging a bulky waste collection. The self-service platform would be available to residents 24/7 and be accessible on mobile or tablet devices as well as computers. The Panel showed an interest in trialling the service themselves.
During a previous update, the Members received an explanation of the bulky waste processes followed at the time. Collections could only be arranged over the phone and the processes were admin heavy and involved a lot of paper being passed between a number of different people. The new booking system required customers to answer a number of questions on the items to be collected. This enabled the system to calculate the total cost of the collection, it was also noted that any residents receiving welfare benefits would also receive a discount on the overall cost. Once a collection date had been chosen, customers would receive a confirmation of booking email. The booking could then be accessed by the contractors through their tablet device. This would allow them to record and confirm collections and report any issues.
The final demonstration involved showing how the CEOs were able to use mobile devices to carry out their work. The system allowed them to use their devices to search a vehicle registration number, access permit information and, via a wireless connection, print a penalty charge notice. Residents would then have the opportunity to pay their charge online. It was noted that this example of channel shift reduced the amount CEOs had to carry round with them and enabled information to be sent to the Council Offices instantly; staff were adapting to the new system well.
To conclude, Mr. Harrison confirmed that the removal of old systems and the replacement of the improved systems had been a success. It was also noted that future work was underway.
The Panel NOTED the presentation.