Telephone Contact Centre Best Practice Research and Workshop
Smarter Digital Services completed a research review of Gravesham Borough Council’s telephone contact centre. From the lessons learnt in previous SDS projects and research, we collated a list of top tips for operating an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. In addition, SDS listened to 12 other local authority high-level IVR menus to provide a comparison for Gravesham, identify areas of improvement and best practice. For example, Dacorum Borough Council use a natural speaking IVR, which listens to voice commands and routes the customer correctly whereas other councils have long IVR menus and lots of messages.
Despite focusing on IVR systems, SDS also researched best practice for a contact centre and online out-going communications, including live chat, social media, emails and online forms. Expanding and improving these channels can also help reduce avoidable calls and encourage channel shift elsewhere, reducing the overall demand on the telephone service.
To successfully reduce avoidable telephone contact, it is important to provide other communication channels. By pushing outgoing communications to alternative contact channels, residents have more choice and opportunities to find information. For example, posting bin collection updates on social media profiles and sending SMS text messages of appointment times. Also, customer expectations for services have increased. This is more apparent as local authority services are compared to the service provided by the private sector such as Amazon. To encourage positive abandonment rates in the IVR and persuade customers to use alternative contact channels, it is vital that your IVR includes signposting messages to different channels.
To identify areas of improvement in Gravesham Borough Council’s IVR, SDS conducted a workshop with the Customer Service team who have first-hand experience of customers’ frustrations and needs. During the workshop, the group worked through specific questions, mapped customer journeys and started to develop an ideal IVR that is customer focused.