Case Studies

Council Tax Behaviour Change

Following a successful behaviour change pilot which BDO consultancy conducted with Medway, Sevenoaks and Canterbury Councils, Smarter Digital Services worked together with the councils in the Mid Kent Partnership to review their Council Tax letters.

The aims of the project were to reduce the amount of reactive contact occasioned by Council Tax correspondence, as well as nudge people towards signing up for Direct Debit as well as paperless billing.

Using MINDSPACE techniques to evaluate the letters which were being sent out at that time, the Smarter Digital Services team found that they were not successfully transmitting the message which the councils wanted to put across. In particular, the letters were prompting customers to call rather than self-serve online, whilst the ebilling option was not sufficiently in evidence to attract attention or yield desired results, especially as it required to user to expand effort to change the status quo, which was receiving a letter by post.

Redesigning the letters to prompt positive behaviours had significant results in all three Councils, measured over the 2014 and 2015 billing periods (March and April).

  • Swale saw online registrations for Direct Debit increase by 133%, going from 269 in 2014 to 627 in 2015.

  • Maidstone’s contact centre received over 1000 fewer calls relating to Council Tax in 2015 compared to 2014, representing an 18% reduction in contact. Face to face visits also decreased significantly, going down 21%. Notably, there were significantly fewer balance enquiries, suggesting that balance information was easier to understand in the new letters.

  • Tunbridge Wells saw a similar decrease in avoidable contact, with Council Tax related calls dropping by 21%. Interestingly, in 2015, only 3% of those calls were from customers wanting their bill explained to them, compared with 6% of calls in 2014, again suggesting the new format was clearer. Further, the conversion rate from non- direct debit to direct debit from 2014 to 2015 was 5%, which is much higher than the 1-2% rate usually achieved by such campaigns.

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