Assura’s software has made it easier for Palmerston North residents to get their council queries answered.
The Palmerston North City Council and Horizons Regional Council joined forces to create a Local Government After-Hours Contact Centre, with the aim of improving customer service and streamlining call response.
The local authorities recognised they would need to pool large amounts of information into a standardised, searchable format.
Project managers also quickly realised that it was important to incorporate variations in each council’s work process. For example, the specific information required by each council for a noise complaint form will be different, as will the follow-up steps.
With each council having more than 100 ‘Request for Service’ forms, there was a high level of complexity to address.
Assura’s software helped facilitate and sort through these processes. It proved to be extremely capable of adapting to the challenge.
Project managers modified one of the fields to hold the names of each council and, on selection; the software automatically applies the appropriate rules and escalation procedures.
With this system, staff could now respond accurately to calls from any participating area.
After their initial training, customer service agents were able to develop online Request for Service forms without requiring IT assistance – a process they are now able to complete in minutes.
Ease of use was a major goal for the project. During two days of training, staff developed two information views – one for regional councils and one for city and district councils.
Within five days the system had been fully populated with the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
“Our main requirement for a new software system was that it needed to adaptable, flexible, easily learned and robust enough to handle thousands of calls per month,” says Palmerston North City Council representative Mike Manson.
“Assura delivered all of those attributes, and we were able to configure it to suit our processes in a matter of minutes.”
Ninety-two percent of all calls are now resolved at the point of first contact. This immediate resolution of queries exceeds customer expectations, while significantly reducing the burden on day staff and emergency personnel.
All customer interactions can be tracked and reported events can be linked to each other, so complete information is at hand when multiple calls are received regarding the same issue. The status of each request is clearly indicated as ‘closed’, ‘responded to’ or ‘yet to be completed’.
In acknowledgment of its effectiveness, the Contact Centre was named both the ‘Technology Application Winner’ and the ‘Overall Winner’ in the New Zealand Post Local Government Excellence Awards.
It was also awarded the ‘ALGIM Innovation of the Year’ award sponsored by Microsoft NZ.
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