Sunderland City Council’s problem had a familiar problem. The city provided more than 700 services to its 280,000 citizens, but accessing those services wasn’t always straightforward. Citizens had to navigate multiple systems and access points to request services. These inefficiencies weren’t just frustrating for the user, but expensive for the city as well.
The citizens’ needs were clear. They wanted service requests to be simpler, faster and available online whenever possible. Sunderland City Council needed to reduce costs, automate complex processes and tailor services. But before Sunderland could transform how it offered services, it needed to put citizens at the centre of the process.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM lets Sunderland change its approach to service delivery. It allows city employees to easily access records about citizens and the services they use. Now customer service personnel can offer packaged, custom solutions to citizens, instead of making them repeat requests and personal information over and over to different offices. It also meant the city could more easily manage third-party partnerships with service providers, saving time and money.
Sunderland quickly noticed three key benefits to a people-centric approach to city services:
- Lower costs: Offering a service online is much cheaper than offering that same service over the phone, via post or in person. Sunderland found citizens were happy to use the most-effective option for requesting services, especially since the experience was so positive. For example, after Sunderland published its schools admissions process online, 80% of all applications came from the Web, with 44% of applications coming in outside of normal office hours.
- Improved customer service: If a citizen does have to call a city office, the customer service representative can use intelligent forms and scripts to provide real assistance, instead of just recording the citizen’s request for someone else to process later.
- Better service delivery: Dynamics CRM’s integrated mapping technology allows for more accurate service requests. Mapping tools make it easier to pinpoint which streetlight is out or where illegal garbage dumping has occurred. That accuracy leads to faster service and increased citizen confidence.
Lower costs and improved service might seem like mutually exclusive goals, but they don’t have to be. Sunderland’s experience shows how local governments can reach both goals, once they decide to put citizens at the heart of service delivery.