Wokingham Borough Council has reduced the time it takes to respond to customers' emails from 10 working days to just three, after implementing a cloud-based contact centre platform.
The browser-based platform, from provider LiveOps, also gives the local authority the capability to create an audit trail for customer emails that did not previously exist. The council receives around 1,500 phone calls, 300 emails and 60 web chats a day.
"Our response time was about 10 working days, and a lot of that was because we did not have a central mechanism for managing emails. There was no audit trail of what was happening with emails, no linkages back to the contact centre," said Sarah Barrow, head of customer services and administration at Wokingham Borough Council.
The council first started working with LiveOps in June 2009, when it deployed the platform to enable a web chat functionality on its website, so that customers could chat to customer service advisors online if they were struggling with any parts of the website.
It then moved email management to the LiveOps platform, which put all the customer history - comprising emails, web chat and texts - in one place.
This allowed the council's customer service providers to see an audit trail of how a query had been dealt with, but also, if an agent was absent, other agents can go into the dashboard and finish off queries.
"We got the SLA (Service Level Agreement) from 10 working days to three working days. In many cases, customers got responses the same working day," said Barrow.
She added: "You can also quality assure emails. Before they go out, managers can check through the emails and make sure they're perfect before they go out. This meant we could make sure the customer had the best response to their enquiry so they didn't have to contact us again."
Using the LiveOps platform, the council can also broadcast messages and information via SMS or email to customers who sign up for certain alerts via the council website. For example, library users receive an information email each month, while the Wokingham uses the SMS function to send out alerts on flooding or road closures.
"It's a really good way of engaging with citizens," said Barrow.
Last year, Wokingham Council started using the social media functions of the LiveOps platform, to manage its Twitter interactions, and will soon be adopting the Facebook function to manage that channel.
"That's been interesting for us, because it has given us another dynamic into how we interact with customers," said Barrow.
"Before, people moaned on Twitter but we didn't have an ability to interact and correct the misunderstanding. [Now] we can have a one-to-one with a person complaining offline, so it is not in the public arena."
Wokingham's contract with LiveOps was initially for three years, and is renewed on a rolling basis. It renewed the contract with LiveOps in December 2010.