In Staffordshire, residents have told us they want to have more choice with how they engage with us and to be able to access us in a variety of ways, with minimum fuss.
We’re at the start of our journey to make this happen and show the direct link between a customer on-line experience and resident satisfaction. Over the past 12 months we’ve been working across communications and customer services to improve our approach to social media so it’s more responsive, engaging and consistent.
Jacqui McKinlay, Director for Strategy and Customer Service said: “We used to manage social media channels within the communications team but found we were often becoming a middle man and weren’t in a position to respond directly to queries. By having joint responsibility for our corporate social media channels with customer services, queries and complaints are responded to more quickly and consistently and residents feel social media is a valid contact choice.
This approach allows us to spot trends coming into our contact centre and proactively share that information on-line giving us a wider reach than a phone call would. It gives us an integrated approach – we’re regularly adding to the number of self serve activities people can do across our social media platforms and we’ve extended this to our communications campaigns so the customer experience is intrinsically linked.”
An example of where this has worked well is our recent potholes campaign. Following the bad winter weather, we saw a 68% increase in potholes across the county. While not unique to Staffordshire, it was affecting public perceptions and resulting in more calls to our contact centre. £500,000 was invested in making improvements and we undertook an integrated campaign to inform residents of the investment. Through social media and other channels, the campaign signposted residents to report potholes in their area.
The results showed a 200% increase in visitors to our report it webpage with 33.5% of web traffic coming as a direct result of our social media activity [previously primary driver for web traffic was Google]. Our customer services team also proactively contacted nearly 350 people who reported potholes to update them on progress. This was well received and resulted in various compliments, many from previously disgruntled residents.
“Within Customer Services, calls are prioritised as a contact channel”, explains Hannah Cotton-Dietrich, Customer Services Manager Access.
“We’re building on what we do to give social media enquiries an equal footing. Already we give social media enquiries a customer reference number – the next step is looking at how we can integrate our digital contacts into our new Customer Relationship Management System. We’re also exploring the financial savings that could come as a result of channel shift towards social media.”
“Later in the year, we’re undertaking two campaigns – one to proactively promote social media as a contact channel and our new self serve options as they come on-line and the other to promote the use of social media accounts for front-line staff to encourage resident engagement. There’s a lot to do but the use of social media is only going to grow so it’s worth the investment now.”
by Emma Rodgers,
Staffordshire County Council