This article was first published in the Summer 2014 issue of Touch.
Sunderland City Council delivers services to over 275,000 citizens across the district of Tyne and Wear in North East England. Due to the large number of access points and systems that had grown within the council, customers often had to repeat the same information when trying to get in touch with the council, which was time consuming and often confusing. The council therefore wanted to make changes.
Liz St Louis, head of customer service and development at Sunderland City Council, explains: “What drove us was listening to our customers and realising that we needed to change to meet their growing expectations. This informed a real desire to improve the accessibility, quality and consistency of the services we delivered.” This included reducing complexity of processes in order to eliminate avoidable contact and offering services online wherever possible to provide choice and greater convenience for customers.
The council evaluated a number of options before choosing a solution from public sector Microsoft Dynamics CRM specialist Optevia. “Feedback from the internal user trials was very positive, as the familiar Microsoft Office-style interface immediately put people at ease and they were confident using it,” St Louis explains. “We also quickly recognised that Dynamics CRM allows us to automate complex workflows with the numerous external partnerships we have in place. Finally, being able to take advantage of our existing Microsoft Enterprise Licensing Agreement made it a very affordable price for us.”
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has transformed the way in which the council interacts with its citizens. “We now have comprehensive information about our customers and the services they require at our fingertips. This allows our customer service advocates to provide a tailored solution to the issues they are faced with, such as co-ordinating access to the range of social services we provide,” says St Louis. “Where previously this would have meant the customer having to make several phone calls and repeating their details, we are now able to record their requirements once and package the delivery of multiple services. This not only provides our customers with a faster response to their needs, it also saves us time and money.”
Integrated mapping technology allows customers to accurately pinpoint where problems, such as faulty streetlights or illegally dumped materials, have occurred within the community. This process is quicker and more convenient for customers, and it also means the council is able to respond faster, resulting in cleaner streets and a safer environment for residents. E-enablement has allowed many previously resource-heavy processes to be automated, and users can now respond quickly to enquiries and resolve issues rather than just taking messages and passing on queries, due to Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s dialogues, on-screen scripts and intelligent forms. “I feel immensely proud of the very visible differences we’ve made since implementing Dynamics CRM and we have many more developments planned. We are delivering accessible, high-quality and consistent services to our customers and we are being rewarded with record levels of customer satisfaction,” concludes St Louis.
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