Southampton City Council Drives Innovative Digital Self-Service Strategy with Verint

Discover how Southampton City Council transform the quality of customer experience, reduce number of enquiries, and drive improved efficiency with Verint for Citizen Engagement.

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The results

  • Improved service experience while empowering service centre resources

  • Optimised both simple and complex customer service processes

  • Orchestrated an efficient and effective customer service journey, integrating channels with applications, data, and content repositories

  • Enhanced capability to deliver end-to-end case lifecycle management

  • Processes more than 28,000 forms per month

About Southampton City Council

Southampton City Council is a unitary authority in the south of England. It provides a full range of local government services ranging from council tax, libraries, and social services to planning, waste management, and education.

Southampton’s citizens and council staff increasingly expect the council’s service centre to offer modern, digital, and self-service channels in addition to traditional modes of communication. The council is adapting to this demand by offering digital services that are open, easy to deploy, simple to use, and help reduce complexity.

Central to this aim, the council has been concentrating resources on the automation of customer service processes to drive more customers online.

Opportunity

Until recently, the council was using forms from a third-party provider to help customers capture, validate, and submit data in forms for processing. However, with so many public services available, customers were easily confused and challenged to find what they needed or often used the wrong online service. Further, when they did find the correct form, they often completed it incorrectly, creating additional work for the responsible department.

According to James Marshall, director of customer experience at Southampton City Council, a new approach to create a holistic view of customer services – both online and throughout the service centre – was needed. “We had more than 200 online forms. We needed to redesign these, so that they were consistent and easy to use. We also wanted the forms to flow the same way and use similar language, with the goal being to make it faster and easier for customers and employees to engage with the council’s services, while reducing manual intervention.”

Increase efficiency and an improved customer experience with Verint for Citizen Engagement

Southampton City Council has adopted a forward-thinking, innovative approach to digital customer engagement. “People don’t want to spend their life on council websites, trying to remember their login password,” James Marshall explains. “To this end, we have decommissioned our online customer account portal. People simply interact with the forms without the need to sign into a named account, with notifications and updates provided by push emails. This way, the user experience is designed to be similar to Amazon or other consumer websites – quick, intuitive, and no-fuss.”

Southampton City Council implemented Verint for Citizen Engagement, redesigning and migrating its 200 legacy forms from the third-party provider to the Verint solution for increased efficiency and an improved customer experience.

More than 200 council services are now available online via the Verint platform, with an additional 50 services from various council stakeholders in the pipeline. The initial focus has been to support high-volume tasks such as reporting potholes or missed bin collection, as well as more complex tasks such as social housing enquiries, which frequently require service centre intervention.

Robust process management in Verint for Citizen Engagement is enabling the council to replace manual tasks with automation, in turn helping to reduce resolution times, drive employee productivity, and provide more time for customer-facing tasks. This has been extremely valuable, since the council’s service centre receives upward of 28,000 Verint forms from customers and employees monthly.

Benefits

One of the most significant features of Southampton’s forms is the ”Pre-Form Checklist” which lists the criteria required for form completion. This has dramatically reduced the number of aborted forms while providing customers a more rewarding experience. The Pre-Form Checklist is used most on complex forms, such as requests for advice on a pre-planning application. When a customer clicks on the pre-planning application page, a form is displayed outlining the details required to complete form, such as a payment card, an outline plan of the building, and its location.

The Verint forms also display the anticipated time it will take the customer to complete the form. “Our customer experience specialist and others have spent considerable time mapping the customer journey, often using an online panel of residents to determine ways we can improve the user experience,” says James Marshall.

Another process – referred to as ”In-Form Triage” – is helping the council diagnose issues faster, increase self-service, and free up time in the service centre to focus on more complex customer initiatives and demand. For example, if council tenants or leaseholders want to report a repair to social housing, the form asks them a series of questions to help identify the problem. If they happen to be experiencing heating or hot water issues, for example the form asks, “Have you checked the boiler pressure?“ before moving onto other questions. Customers are also connected to self-help videos and, throughout the process, a timeline indicates the estimated completion time for the report. Lastly, customers can rate their satisfaction with the form upon completion of most tasks.

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Transform the quality of customer experience

“Customer experience is a balancing act,” says James Marshall. “We need to balance giving customers choice in the way they contact the council versus managing demand in the service centre. However, the number one priority is the voice of the customer and the experience they receive.”

James Marshall and his team have also connected Verint for Citizen Engagement forms with the council’s own mapping system. This mapping system integration enables customers to pinpoint the exact location of their report, such as reporting the location of fly-tipping, with the map indicating whether the position is the council’s responsibility or on private land.

“Verint for Citizen Engagement orchestrates the council’s customer service journey, integrating channels with applications, data, and content repositories,” concludes James Marshall. “We still have more work to do. However, to date, Verint has helped Southampton City Council transform the quality of customer experience, reduce the number of enquiries in the service centre, and drive improved efficiency.”

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