Channel shift strategy could save £200,000 a year

A new digital strategy unveiled by a South West council could save £180,000 per year, according to officers.

A report set to be considered by Mid Devon District Council’s cabinet tomorrow will recommend a series of measures to encourage citizens to use online channels to contact the council.

The strategy would involve implementing social network services and text message alerts along with a new self service portal and live chat services.

The report said: “Customers expect to contact organisations by email or other digital channels and to be able to transact with services at times to suit their own needs. Our service standards have focused on contact in person over the phone and by post, but now need to include on line contacts, email and social media.”

The strategy is aimed at reducing the volume of visitors to its offices, calls to its customer service centre and direct dials by 20% over five years by moving these contacts to the web.

The council estimates that the strategy could save it £30,864 each year on postage costs and £8,689 on printing costs.

In addition, it would lead to a reduction in head count of five full time equivalent staff, saving £179,823 each year.

Three new posts will be created for the first two years of implementing the plan, at a cost of £200,000 over this period.

In 2013-14, the council estimated that it received more than 1.3m contacts from customers – with 403,594 over the phone and 800,000 by email.

The report said: “The number of contacts is increasing year on year; traditional contact volumes have increased by 10% since 2010 add to this, new methods of contact such as online applications and social media and the increase in customer contact is realistically in the region of 15%.

“The variety and method of contact is changing and our current working practices make this difficult to manage.”

Colin Marrs

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