Revolutionise your business processes
Digital Revenues forms enabling channel shift in the areas of Change of Address, Direct Debit (DD), Discounts & Exemptions, Single Person Discount (SPD), BR Move/Out, BR Direct Debit and Business Rates Relief
Digital Benefits forms providing an intuitive online service that enables Councils to channel shift citizens who need to make a new claim or report changes
eChanges in Circumstances Suite for Housing Benefits and Council Tax Support
An intelligent online service that enables Councils to channel shift citizens who need to report changes in their benefit claims
eGovHub Case Studies
Successful eClaims roll out for Leeds’ citizens
As part of driving forward its digital agenda, Leeds worked with IEG4 to introduce an intelligent online eClaim form that enables residents to apply for housing benefit, council tax support and free school meals.
People can make a claim and upload any required supporting evidence at home via mobile, PC or tablet, or via one of the public facing PCs in Leeds’ network of one-stop shops. If people are not confident in filling out the form customer service staff can help claimants and scanners are available to scan and upload evidence to submit with the claim. Housing staff also have tablets with them when they make home visits and are able to help with applications.
According to council tax and benefits section manager Jayne Ruddock, when a customer submits a claim in the morning it will be on the system by the end of the same day and processed by assessors within five days. Almost all – some 99% of claims - are received without issues but for the 1% where suspected incorrect information has been input or risk alerts have been flagged an email notifies the assessment team for review and correction before confirmation of the details are displayed in back office systems.
“The form integrates information into our back office revenues and benefits and document management systems and work with our risk based verification system,” explains Ruddock. “This provides a seamless operation for the team, designed to enable them to review the information provided and easily identify possible errors or risks that need closer attention and action from us in order to resolve them.
“The form has intelligence built in to validate information, but sometimes manual intervention is needed as, for example, a fleck over a non-English name spelling may not be recognised by the back end system.”
Before launch, the form was pen-tested in line with Leeds’ security policies to ensure that it could not be hacked or have an adverse impact on the council’s cyber security. Other security and GDPR considerations also mean that staff at the one-stop shops cannot complete a form for a customer but can, with their consent, guide an individual through completing and submitting their claim or change of information details.
Digital only following rapid take-up
The council initially did a soft launch of the new online service – and was pleased to see the first digital claim coming through within nine minutes of launch. In fact, the online forms have been so successful that four months later the council was able to withdraw all paper claims other than for vulnerable people and assisted digital.
A new eChange form to advise the council of a change in circumstances was user tested and went live in January. This is useful as the council moves to universal credit roll out, Ruddock explains: “With these new forms we can make changes or add information as we need it, so we will be able to add information and advice about universal credit as it rolls out. It is a real bonus compared to a paper form that was expensive to update!”
This flexibility has already proved useful, with the team able to tweak the information provided around free school meal applications in order to best direct people to the benefit – for example, explaining that even if their child prefers a packed lunch they are still eligible to register for free school meals in order to accurately reflect the need in the city. “The forms can quickly be tweaked and tailored to reflect the council’s own needs and processes as circumstances change,” says Ruddock.
Better for citizens, better for the council
During user testing the customer experience has proven to be trouble-free, according to Ruddock: “Even if the council's main server was down claims can still be submitted as the forms are automatically saved and come through to us once everything is back online – so there’s never an impact on the customer service.”
She is also keen to acknowledge the savings the council will be making on paper, print, scanning and postage costs: “The new forms save workloads, storage and equipment space and reduce staff time on routine applications, allowing us to focus on the more complex cases.
”When choosing a solution and a partner to work with, the council was looking for integration with three existing systems and an improvement to the good quality of service that was already being provided.
“IEG4 were really responsive and knowledgeable and dealt with any issue we found. They knew everything inside out and had proven integrations with the systems that we used", says Ruddock.
“For me eClaims is definitely the way forward and is a real positive for our customers.”
Wolverhampton Council to automate revenues and benefits processing with IEG4 platform
Wolverhampton is working with IEG4 to put the solution in place, with the aim of achieving 95% automation in its benefits processing.
It will allow residents claiming benefits to notify the council that they are moving in, moving out or within Wolverhampton and apply for direct debit payments, single occupier discount and a range of other discounts and exemptions easily online.
Sue Martin, head of revenues and benefits, said the IEG4 solution will provide them with the capability for online reporting and automated processing of benefit changes.The solution provides end-to-end automation for high volume, complex transactions, making it well suited to revenues and benefits departments. Increased automation enables teams to improve productivity and reach optimal efficiency.
It involves the use of digital forms that can be customised and changed easily and quickly by council teams, even those with limited technical knowledge. This should help to keep down costs and allow staff to keep their focus on dealing with the public.
"We were impressed with IEG4's ability to empower councils to fine tune customer communications and directly integrate to our back office system without third party tools,” Sue Martin said.
Andy Hoare, Wolverhampton's digital transformation director, said the project complements the council's wider digital programme. It expects to achieve some efficiency gains from the implementation and plans to explore IEG4's capability in robotic process automation for further savings.
Paul Tomlinson, managing director of IEG4, said: “There is a great willingness at City of Wolverhampton Council to transform services through technology and we're really pleased to be working with them on this exciting digital project.
"We plan to make this an exemplar solution that other councils across the UK can use as a best practice approach to automate complex transactions in revenues and benefits departments."
Building an 'all digital window' for customer contact
High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands Councils are reaping the benefits of a successful channel shift strategy that sees first year savings in excess of £150,000 and significant reductions in calls and visits to customer service points. Whilst they are celebrating the completion of the successful first phase of their joint channel shift strategy, they are already looking ahead to the next phase of making digital channels the preferred route for their customers. The issue moved up the agenda for both councils in January 2016, when the Alliance between the two – which provides a shared management team and services – produced a strategy for channel shift aimed at delivering internal efficiencies by, using digital platforms to improve processes and to meet changing customer demands.
The plan had five central elements: implementation of three brand new websites; introduction of risk based verification for housing benefit and council tax reductions; elimination of paper claim forms; the setting up of a new citizen portal; and retiring the legacy CRM system. On examining the options, the Alliance saw a way to combine much of the central elements together by working with IEG4 to build an ‘all digital window’ into the two councils; as a result both councils are now realising significant benefits from the move.
Replacing Legacy CRM
A key step has been in the retirement of its CRM – which at 11 years-old was nearing the end of its lifecycle – with the IEG4 OneVu platform which Rachel Felix, digital transformation business partner for the Alliance, describes as a “light CRM”. “We looked at lots of things and because of the push to self-service we wanted a platform that puts the emphasis on the customer, and this does it,” she says. “The aim is for a high percentage of residents to have an account with us, but we will still be there on the phone and we will get the same view as the customer.”
The platform combines three main functions: IEG4’s OneVu citizen portal, CSVu customer service portal and Open Process workflow element. With a mobile first design, OneVu has done a lot to attract residents to use the portal, with the provision of answers to frequently asked questions and functions to submit IEG4 forms and the ability to track the progress of service requests. CSVu has effectively taken the place of the old CRM, providing customer advisers with a view of what the citizens can see on OneVu and giving them the ability to respond to calls and to add notes to the customer history. It has helped to make assisted services available as advisers are able to log into a citizen account and complete a task on behalf of a resident if needed. Meanwhile, Open Process provides the workflow capability to monitor and manage the fulfilment of service requests.
Implementation of the platform took place June 2017 and has already brought significant results. By March 2018 about 13,500 residents of the two districts had live accounts, with 32% of those being created out of hours – an indication of the ease of self-service – and 41% being personalised with back office system authentication. In addition, the number of new visitors to the councils’ websites has increased by 25%; online form usage has risen by 80%; the volume of calls to the contact centres has decreased by 45%; and visits to their neighbourhood offices have fallen by 39%. It indicates a direct correlation between the customers choosing to access services in their digital account and a reduction in calls, and it has given the customer services team the time to concentrate on a ‘right first time’ approach, in which they deal with enquiries from start to finish.
This is supported by triage and validation features within CSVu, along with the access to a variety of back office systems. It has also enabled the Alliance to reduce the opening hours of its contact centre by two hours a day and close the phone lines two hours a week for staff training and development. Additionally, an assessment of the change in demand has led to a review of the opening hours at the neighbourhood offices. Automation of some transactions has improved processing times and helped to reduce fraud and error, that, together with other benefits of the channel shift programme such as reduced IT, print, postal and administration costs, is producing savings that so far are estimated at £150,000.
The integration capabilities have been effective, linking the platform to Northgate’s PARIS software for payments and Civica’s OPENRevenues for revenues and benefits. Integration with Civica’s APP software is also scheduled for early Spring to support the Alliance’s waste management processes. The Alliance is now working on a project initiation document for phase two of the strategy’s implementation and has further plans for the platform.
These include adding processes around business rates and registered landlords, and an integration of payments. Councillor Tony Hall, Cabinet Member for Customer Services at Staffordshire Moorlands, said: “The potential for integrating other systems into this platform is exciting and, over time, will hopefully mean that we can introduce even more capability for our residents and, ultimately, improve the efficiency and breadth of services offered digitally.”
The Councils are also looking at the potential for robotics automation in handling high volume, non-complex processes such as council tax transactions, although this is still at the ‘possibility’ stage. The IEG4 platform has already helped High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands Councils to go a long way towards the vision of their strategy, to ensure that digital channels are not just acceptable but become the main preference for their residents in accessing services. Emily Thrane, Executive Councillor for Finance and Operational Services at High Peak, said: “The channel shift programme is about modernising the way we and our residents transact and delivering services via channels our customers are using for other everyday services. We’ve made a successful start but we know there’s still some way to go – the work we’ve done so far is yielding encouraging results and we’re looking forward to introducing additional functionality in future phases.”