Transforming customer service with unified communications

Sharon Maslyn, VP of EMEA Sales at 8×8 discusses how one council is using unified communications can streamline operations and enhance citizen communication

Digital transformation is a priority for councils up and down the country. In fact, our recent research revealed at least 65% local governments now have a digital strategy in place and 82% of staff say new technology has had a positive impact on their organisation.

The challenge for any organisation, including local authorities, is to make sure that new technology is bring introduced to improve services for local citizens, not just bringing in technology for the sake of it. For example, a third of councils report that keeping residents happy is an ongoing challenge for their contact centre, despite having new technology in place, with calls being missed and data not being logged or analysed properly.

Councils also face the challenge that residents’ expectations of customer service have increased. With so many channels at people’s fingertips (social media, phone, email) people expect to be able to contact businesses 24/7 in any way they wish, and get a speedy response when they do. Without the right technology in place to support them, local authorities could face an explosion of inbound channels, in addition to their own internal communications channels, such as Slack or Skype, but no way to link both parts together.


Transitioning to the cloud

Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council are local authorities which are tackling this issue head on with a huge digital transformation programme to improve communication. By transitioning all communications to the cloud, the councils have not only been able to work more efficiently but has also improved service for its 140,000 residents.

A single unified communications approach has allowed staff to communicate and collaborate more effectively, even when the vast majority are remote working – in fact, 90% of the workforce is now agile working. This means that even when staff aren’t working in the main office, they can continue working seamlessly, with no change in service for residents who call in.

With inbound resident queries also integrated into the same system, staff in the councils’ contact centre also have access to the right information which supports them exactly when they need it. This means that customers aren’t passed between multiple agents to solve a problem and every resident customer service query is resolved first time, every time.


Agile communication

Fiona Kirkham, ICT and Information Manager, Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council said: “We are always looking at how we can innovate and improve our systems to help residents in Taunton and the surrounding area. 8×8’s cloud communications system has been integral to our digital transformation strategy. With plans to integrate with West Somerset Council, our agile communications system has not only been able to flex and grow with us but has also ensured local residents always receive the best possible support.”

The lessons we can learn from this leading council are clear. By joining up fractured employee engagement systems and unified communications together under one roof, local authorities can make sure their employees are well-equipped to do their jobs – and are happier doing so. This also means different parts of the organisation are no longer siloed but there’s a steady flow of information between departments, resulting in improved cross-collaboration and united staff.

For residents, this means excellent, efficient service with queries resolved first time, every time.

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