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Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase: Show & Tell #5 with Newham Council

Graeme McCubbin, Nov. 2, 2016

Another sprint down, and the next weekly Show & Tell with the Digital Team in our 10-week Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase with Newham Council. I headed to meet the team on Wednesday morning to see what they have been up to across Sprint Five (along with a growing crowd of eager session attendees).

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 1

A small Unboxed team is currently working alongside the Digital Team to take the first steps in transforming how Newham Council deliver their key services to 325,000 local residents, through more innovative approaches.

Digital Discovery - Sprint Five

Show & Tell duration: 20 minutes

Led by Martyn, Paul (the service designer of the project), Baljit (the Business Operations Support Manager at Newham Council) and Boris (the newest Unboxed member), the team shared the big chunks of progress that have been made across the last one-week sprint, including:

  • Interviewing residents who are at risk of being homeless
  • Building on mapping out the key Discovery user persona in more detail
  • Visualising the current user journey taken in the Housing Repairs service
  • Surveying parents regarding Local Offer - a platform providing information to families on what local support services are available for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities
  • Exploring the current existing Local Offer solutions to find out more information

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 2

Discovery persona #1: Jenny and her journey

One of the key activities the team have been working on is building up a user persona - going by the name of "Jenny":

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 3

Jenny is a user persona, currently being built up using residental data that the team have been collecting across a variety of different sources (including new user interviews and current systems). From building up this persona, a realistic profile of a current borough resident is forming. By creating this data-led persona, any real issues and problems with current services and systems can be highlighted and addressed, to take forward in knowing how these can be improved.

Housing Repairs journey

Within the Housing department is the Housing Repairs service - a main service of focus during Sprint Five. Exploration has begun to look into how to work towards successfully reducing the volume of phone calls that currently travel through the customer contact centre, as well as addressing the variety of different types of phone call queries which are received.

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 4 Shadowing a member of the customer contact centre during the sprint.

From looking to move this phone call traffic from the customer contact centre to online, there is potential to make a significant impact in terms of the number of residents that can find the important information they require, but through a “self-service” online system. The team have spent time shadowing contact centre staff and speaking to tenants directly to get an overall understanding of how they can begin to address a successful traffic shift from one platform to another. The next step - beginning to sketch out what this might look like.

Gathering data

Data has been gathered from local residents to analyse and build on the Jenny persona, using this to then look into current residential data, identifying how many “Jenny”s there may be in the overall system - how many residents are facing same the problems, hurdles and issues that Jenny is.

Early experiments carried out have highlighted that there is potential for residents with certain issues to be efficiently helped online - reducing the volume of contact centre calls. Jenny will be able to help with beginning to identify which information is key to being online, and where this needs to be on the user journey, in order for citizens to efficiently and effectively to move their journeys from offline to online. Giving residents the information they need to succeed as early as possible could be beneficial in making sure that these residents have a broader awareness of the processes they are required to go through. These are just some of the first steps the team are taking when looking into what a “self-service” online system could look like.

Citizen evidence

“Verification” emerged as one occurring theme from user feedback and an issue in residents successfully being able to identify themselves across a number of services. From addressing each different type of documentation and questioning which identification documentation is required for which service, a documentation map has been sketched out:

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 5

This map is the first step in reducing the number of residents who turn up to their appointments with incorrect identification documentation and aims to increase the number of successful appointments, with residents being able to identify themselves, creating a clearer understanding and a smoother process. More residents arriving to appointments with the correct identification documentation will result in a more successful process, with fewer missed appointments for departments.

What’s next on the roadmap?

Newham Council Digital Customer Programme Discovery Phase - Sprint Five 6

Some of the tasks on the project roadmap for Sprint Six include:

  • Exploring the existing Local Offer solutions further and looking into the potential costs and savings
  • Beginning to prototype what a better journey would look like for Jenny the persona
  • Iterating on the Housing Repairs service workings
  • Shadowing housing officers on day-to-day calls with service users to build up further insights of any problems encountered

With the finishing line passed for Sprint Five, Sprint Six will see early stage prototyping for potential service solutions, within key areas, beginning to take form.