Ashford Borough Council has a good track record of ‘channel shift’, where it has changed business processes to make it easier for customers to transact with us online. This was driven by the need to reduce costs and for the council to ensure efficient deployment of resources. Now many of our services are accessible online, some of them by default (i.e. there is no alternative access channel).
This has worked well, and overall we have delivered the required efficiencies and introduced some innovative ways to deliver services - examples include Revenues and Benefits services that are largely online, as well as a wide range of ‘report-it' functions on our website enabling customers to make online reports of issues such as fly-tipping, missed bin collections or noise nuisance.
The expectations of our customers are changing; increasingly customers expect to be able to go online to request a service, pay a bill, report a problem or see how far the council has got in dealing with their request at a time and place that suits them.
As well as meeting the expectations of our customers, the benefit of using technology to deliver services is that certain council functions become more efficient, requiring less manual intervention, helping to manage demand and reduce calls into the civic centre. This can mean that we can spend more time dealing with complex enquiries, and those customers who are unable/do not wish to access online services.
Our Digital Transformation Strategy aims to put our customers at the centre of service design and service delivery. There are four strands of the strategy:
3. Digital inclusion