Town Hall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS

Encouraging Customer Self-Service

Smarter Digital Services (SDS) have completed a customer self-service research project for Swale Borough Council. The project focused on face-to-face service delivery and encouraging self-service at the Gateway, however SDS also compiled reports on reducing telephone contact and promoting alternative methods of contact.

self-service kiosks in a council library

Encouraging customer self-service in the Gateway 

We approached other local authorities to understand their customer service transformation, lessons learnt and the digital solutions they put in place to create a self-service environment. The digital solutions include self-service and payment kiosks, booking and visitor management systems, self-scanners and digital information boards.


SDS started by analysing the demographics of the Swale borough and the council’s customers. This helped inform levels of digital exclusion, customer expectations, internal and external needs as well as why residents prefer to visit the council over other contact options. We then outlined case studies of other authorities, in a similar position to Swale, that have tried to create self-serving customers. For example, the Vale of Glamorgan Council in Wales and the London Borough of Lewisham set up a digital training and tablet loaning scheme to up-skill their residents and reduce digital exclusion.


SDS then identified 3 forward-thinking local authorities, Stockport, Ipswich Borough and Norwich City Council, to example their customer reception transformation. It was evident that all of the councils invested in their IT infrastructure to create a self-service environment. SDS highlighted and completed a MoSCoW analysis for Swale on the potential digital solutions that would help encourage self-service. The digital solutions included a self-service kiosk, payment solution, self-scanner, digital information boards, a visitor management system and a booking system.


SDS then mapped ‘as-is’ customer journeys to identify customer pain points and areas for improvement. Following this we outlined ideal customer journeys with the potential digital solutions.


Reducing telephone contact

The project also covered methods to reduce telephone contact including IVR best practice, understanding call demand and an IVR script comparison. Ensuring customers can effectively solve their queries using the IVR with improve the customer’s experience and reduce the demand of calls that need answering by a human call agent. For a list of top do’s and don’ts for IVR design, check out our blog post!


Alternative methods of contact

The final report of the project highlighted alternative methods of contact. By evening out the demand through multiple channels and providing modern contact channels customers want to use, contact through face-to-face and the telephone should decline. SDS focused on upcoming channels that fit recent trends such as live chat, smartphone council apps and social media platforms. These new customer contact channels will enable the council to meet ever-evolving customer expectations and improve customer satisfaction.


Please contact SDS if you are interested in the finding out more about this project or would like us to carry out any other research for you.


16 December 2019
best practice, IVR, customer contact, self-service, customer behaviour change
Swale Borough Council