Council’s digital services strategy to go before Cabinet

Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet will be asked this week (5 Sep) to endorse a strategy which aims to encourage more residents to access Council services online.

Published: Tuesday, 4th September 2018
Civic campus

The draft strategy proposes options that would give residents greater flexibility in how they contact the Council. This includes creating a more digital service in line with the Council’s target to make 85% of customer transactions online by 2020.

To gain resident feedback on the proposed strategy, a seven-week consultation took place in June and July, which allowed residents to give feedback on the draft Customer Access Strategy.

In total, of the 482 people responded to the consultation, 96% of them did so digitally.

The proposals in the draft strategy, which are being presented to the Council’s Cabinet at its meeting next Wednesday, w allow residents to complete more transactions online through digital devices such as phones, computers or tablets.

However, for residents who were less comfortable with technology, staff would be on hand to support them to use services digitally or complete transactions on their behalf.

The strategy promotes a ‘digital by design’ approach which increases accessibility to services, tailored to residents’ levels of digital confidence. .

The Council has identified a number of benefits with this approach including making services available 24/7 and more convenient to resident, while increasing the number of digital services will enable the Council to save money ensuring resources can be focused on people who need help completing transactions digitally and would prefer to speak to a customer service representative. The strategy would also bring the Council in line with many other common services such as online banking or shopping. 

Following a targeted communications plan, which included contacting more than a hundred groups whose members may find digital access more challenging, the consultation found that initial theories that residents would prefer more flexibility and digital access were correct, with ‘78% of people identified themselves as being very or extremely confident with accessing online services with less than six per cent saying that they were not so/ not at all confident.

The consultation also found that 80% of respondents ‘were very or quite comfortable using a website’. Results from the paper copies of the consultation found that 55% of respondents felt they did not need help accessing online services and would prefer to pay for Council services online.

Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate and Customer Services, said “I am delighted that so many residents took the time to complete the consultation questionnaire. The consultation was created to meet a growing need for more digital services and to make the best possible experience for our residents.

“We’ve listened to residents and know how difficult it can be to arrange the time to come into our Customer Contact Centre during the week. We’re championing our ‘digital by design’ approach which puts resident experience first, making sure they are included whatever their level of digital ability and I am pleased to be able to present the draft Customer Access Strategy to Cabinet as part of our programme of improving services for local residents.”

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