Background to the project
Swale Borough Council was one of the first in the country to set up a customer service contact centre. Its customer services team works across three different locations of the borough and provides a full range of front line services. The team’s head office is in Sittingbourne and provides the reception, service desk and contact centre functions. All staff in the team are multi-skilled so that they can work in any location, take on any role within the team and provide the same service to the public regardless of contact channel .
“The system, for me, is the key thing for my staff. Other councils have their staff dip in and out of different systems but that doesn’t work for Swale. We want one system and we need it to do everything that our staff need to be able to do including integration with 3rd party systems.”
Carol Sargeant, Customer Service Manager & Transformation Lead for Digital and Customer Focus
The customer services team had a legacy CRM system that it had been using since 2002. The team has always worked extremely closely with the Council’s IT department in order to develop the existing system which included integration with other internal systems as well as 3rd party systems. Customer services staff along with the respective service areas would map out their workflows and processes and then pass that information to the IT team who would develop the necessary service forms within the legacy CRM system.
The existing CRM system was the only system that most of the customer services team members had ever used. Over the years it had been integrated with every other frontline service that the team needed to deliver, from council tax payment, parking permits and electoral registration through to delivery of the council’s environmental services along with integration with third party contractors’ systems such as the waste management function. There were approximately 200 different service forms within the system which included some online forms.
In 2016 it became clear that the existing CRM system was coming towards the end of its life and the Council began the process of procuring a new system to replace it. As part of this process they conducted a full review of all existing processes and were able to reduce the number of service forms needed down to around 100. After a comprehensive procurement process the Council appointed Abavus to develop the new digital platform (CRM system), based on its My Council Services suite of products.
“We were replacing a system that we’ve used for 15 years. We don’t just use it for service forms – it’s got FAQs in it, it has links to staff daily rotas, it contains all the documents that they need to use, absolutely everything. So as well as pulling all the service forms together we also had to pull all that data out of the old system and get it set up in the new system, so we had really high ambitions of what we needed from Abavus.”
Shortly after the project began, the suppliers of legacy CRM system announced that they were going to cease trading under the CRM remit and that the system would no longer be supported by April 2018. Thus the requirement to get the new system up and running became even more urgent, but the Council’s requirements remained just as demanding.