A week in the life of a New User Researcher…

by Tracy Eaton – User researcher for Buckinghamshire County Council

It all started in the Water Garden, when I meet with Matt and Colin to talk about a User Research role for a project called Verify.

A whole week into the role it is now very clear to me how different the role is, or actually my interpretation of a User Researcher. It is not talking to someone about a system or process and noting down what they have said then analysing it…… quite the opposite in fact.

I now know it is someone who listens, observes, doesn’t guide people through the process and explores hesitation or apparent confusion by asking what are you thinking? What are you trying to do?  Or what were you expecting?….My challenge is to not step in and assist when someone has hesitated, or even worse suggest why they have hesitated.

I completed my first User Research session at GDS this week with a member of the public, who used Verify to apply for his Concessionary Bus pass or as they like to call it in London my Freedom Pass. It was nerve wracking because the sessions where being streamed to other Councils and my face was on a huge plasma screen in the next room where four individuals were taking notes. But it was kind of exciting at the same time, I have done one now so roll on the User Research of the Bucks residents I am nearly ready.

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An afternoon with the Digital Team…

By Adrian Clarke at Buckinghamshire County Council

As part of the ongoing alignment effort to dovetail the work and approaches of the BCC Digital and ICT teams, I recently spent a fascinating afternoon with Matthew and his team and wanted to share a few thoughts that stayed with me after the session.

People aren’t talking about technology

This is a point that would probably be a surprise to a lot of people. This is digital right? Surely that means the air is full of tech-talk and impermeable jargon?  Wrong. The buzz (and there is a buzz) is more around desired outcomes, the business process, what needs to be delivered and the approach  being used to deliver it and how it could be improved.  Of course technology is part of the conversation but it is very much a means rather than an end.

Know what’s flexible and what isn’t

Though the approach to individual projects within the digital team is very  flexible and responsive to the shape of the particular project in hand, this is in contrast to the framework that projects are delivered within which is very clearly defined, collectively owned and rigorously applied.  Team operating and design principles, tools and methodologies  have been  discussed and agreed and are visibly on display around the office.  This clarity acts as a daily touchstone for the team to ensure the key elements that will support  delivery  are kept front and centre and are not unwittingly diluted or bypassed. More importantly, this ability to help define the environment you operate within is an important group engagement mechanism and also serves as a cultural lever as it clearly states what is important to the team.

The quality of the engagement determines the quality of the output

This is not a principle unique to Digital but it certainly applies here.  Great things can be achieved with a shared clarity of purpose and  resolve between a supplier and a customer. If the engagement gets too lopsided then the quality of the of project/outcome can be significantly compromised or, in extreme cases, derailed before it has even really started.

You need to be prepared to draw lines… and then step across them

One thing that came across loud and clear in talking to Mathew’s  team was the willingness and need to facilitate the desired outcome even in less than ideal circumstances. Clear roles and responsibilities are obviously key to any endeavour  but so also is a willingness to step beyond boundaries in order to support each other and the goals of the group. Being prepared to step into the each other’s shoes helps give a shared perspective both of challenges and solutions.

All in all a very worthwhile and informative session and one I would wholeheartedly recommend to others who wish to “Think Digital” as well as “Do Digital”!

The HR help desk pilot

The HR service desk provides valuable advice and guidance to employees of Bucks CC along with staff from schools and academies across the county.

Just how valuable? In the last 12 months, the team received over 24,000 emails and over 14,000 calls. If you include contact made through other channels, they get about 180 new queries a day. That’s a lot. It’s not going down and it’s not sustainable.

That’s why we have started building the HR help desk form. It’s a digital service that allows users to find out the answer to a HR question by either asking a HR advisor, or be directed to where they can find the answer online.

Why we are doing this work

As I said at the start, it’s a service valued across the county, but it’s getting trickier to manage demand, so we’re currently speaking to users and looking at different ways we can offer aspects of the service.

We believe that by reducing the queries that come in and speed up how quickly we can resolve those queries, we can improve the experience for users whilst securing the sustainability of the service.

It’s not about closing the phone lines, it’s about reducing the queries by phone so there’s someone who can pick up your call when you really need it.

How we are speeding up query resolution

Quite often, questions come through that are missing crucial bits of information, like the month a copy payslip is required.

Instead of the advisor responding with the answer, they have to ask more questions first. This makes the whole process longer for everyone involved.

To make sure an advisor receives all the required information up-front, the HR help desk will ask for specific information depending on your question. This will mean a lot more questions can be answered first time.

How are we going to reduce the queries

There’s a wealth of information on the intranet or on schoolsweb. Chances are, the answer to a question is there but it’s hard to find. We know this isn’t good enough.

We are going to improve the content of our pages, starting with the topics that generate the most questions. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more information, but it will be better quality and easier to find.

The pilot

We’re taking a digital approach to this work. A digital approach mean means smaller, faster, incremental improvements. These improvements are tested early and often with users, to ensure we are building the right thing. Which is why we have chosen to run a pilot.

We know the service is not finished, but we feel it’s developed enough to test with users and check to see whether we are building the right thing.

In fact, the service should never be finished. Using data and user feedback, we will be continually improving how the service works and the information it provides.

Better yet, we also hope this data will provide the insight needed to fix some of the problems that generate confusion and questions in the first place.

The pilot takes place from 8am – 6pm, Thursday 22 December
Feedback can be sent to userresearch@buckscc.gov.uk

How we’re getting better at sharing knowledge within the team

We’ve got a great mix of experience and skills within the digital team. There’s pockets of expertise, from user research and accessibility through to design and content which we can draw on as we work towards building digital services so good, people prefer to use them.

A few weeks ago, we realised we needed to get better at sharing these ‘nuggets’ of expertise with other members of the team. So we put our heads together to work out the best format.

As we all sit in front of screens far too much, it had to be away from our desks. It also had bring us all together, in real life, not just on a slack channel. Finally, we’re all super busy at the moment, so it had to be quick.

Last Monday, we had our inaugural ‘Ten minutes of top tips and a tipple’.

The rules we simple:

  • 3 topics from 3 members of the team
  • 10 minutes per topic
  • 1 pub

Organising the session was simple as well. Three members of the team put forward a topic they wanted to share which I then turned into buzzfeed worthy headlines (too much coffee that afternoon). Booked a date in everyone’s diary and chose a pub*.

*Tip – Check the Wifi or mobile signal in the pub first. I picked one of the oldest public houses in England, which in hindsight, wasn’t the best idea.

Here’s a roundup of the session.

The topics

Facilitating – Helen Gracie

Helen recently went on a 2-day facilitation course (for humans, not cats) and shared with us some of the best tips:

  • Get your group to do the writing, it makes them feel like they own their ideas
  • Encourage your group without asking biased question like ‘was the experience bad?’
  • A good facilitator should get involved as little as possible

Firmstep forms and processes – Becki Boraston

Our very own forms guru Becki guided us through a letter template wizard that she built. Something even Firmstep said couldn’t be done!

Why letters? It’s part of the work we’re doing for the complaints team. If a member of the public writes to use, we’ll write back and the solution Becki has built makes it (look) easy.

You select a header, which is dependent on the department, write the body of the letter, then select who it’s from, along with a signature. This is then automatically generated into a PDF that can be printed off and posted out.

Prototyping – Liam Hawkes

Prototyping is a great way to show users or a service the thing. Something visual they can see or even use, that doesn’t take too much effort on our part.

I gave the team a brief overview of the prototyping tool I use, Invision. This included how to setup a new project, added different screens to a prototype and adding interactions, like making something a button.

Preparation is key

One thing I learnt is, no matter how much you know about a topic, you still need to prepare. Teaching a topic in 10 minutes is harder than it sounds.

Everyone found the session really useful and couldn’t wait to get one, or even two in the diary before Christmas.

We’re always up for a challenge, and the next one is to share these skills and expertise with the rest of the organisation. It’s a much bigger job, but one we’ll start by making the next ‘Ten minutes of top tips and a tipple’ an open invitation to all colleagues.

Why we support Get Online Week

Buckinghamshire libraries joined thousands of other community groups to promote Get Online Week, this week. The initiative is the largest digital inclusion campaign in the country.

In common with the Tinder Foundation, the earlier work of Go ON UK and other campaigners, it recognises that people who can’t or won’t go online are from lots of different backgrounds and face many different barriers. There isn’t, therefore, one solution. Partnership working is crucial.

It was important to me that our digital team supported colleagues in the libraries to make the week a success. Our posts are publicly funded, and we’re in a privileged position of being confident and highly proficient at using technology in our daily lives. So Get Online Week was an important opportunity for us to make a different kind of contribution to our community.

But equally important, was what it taught us. I have vivid memories of the time I spent with an older woman – a previously proficient typist – going online for the first time. In particular, the challenges presented by her very mild arthritis and varifocals in being able to select a radio button and choose accurately from a dropdown list.

This week our team Slack channel has been full of people sharing their experiences:

  • “interesting to see how difficult some find it to use a mouse and keyboard and what I think is second nature”
  • “exciting to know that I’ve helped open up the web to people for the first time”
  • “I converted one person from begrudgingly creating an email address to going to buy a tablet to connect with the world”

So we went to give, but got more back.

The library service had done an excellent job in recruiting people who were clearly nervous, but ready to learn. People had a variety of reasons for attending: a sense that they needed an email address, that the internet was no longer optional, or pressure from a family member. Many were nervous about spam, fraud and inappropriate content – but understood the potential benefits, too.

You don’t have to wait for Get Online Week 2017. We can all help friends, family members and even colleagues to give greater confidence and awareness in using computers and accessing the internet. It’s easy, important – and invaluable learning too!

5 interview tips, not from a user researcher

Even if it’s not your official job title, most of us will (should!) find ourselves carrying out some user research throughout a piece of work.

Having recently ran a round of interviews with service users and being far from an expert in the field, I thought it would be worth sharing some tips on the technique I learnt along the way.

Know what you want to know

As you’ve chosen to carry out interviews, you hopefully have an idea of what information you want to get from your participant. I found it useful to highlight what I wanted to know  and then prepare some questions that would lead to the right answers with the right level of detail.

If the topic is particularly challenging or difficult, you might want to write these questions in a variety of different styles. This may help you get answers, whilst taking into account the mood of the conversation and feelings of the participant.

Hit record

Writing or typing notes can really disrupt the flow of an interview. What’s worse is trying to take notes and listen to the participant at the same time, especially if you’re like me and useless at multitasking.

I found recording the interviews to be a massive help. It meant I could fully focus on the participant and then write up my notes afterwards. It also surprised me to hear little details I failed to pick up on until I listened back to the interview.

Here are some bonus tips on recording interviews:

  • No special equipment needed. Most smartphones should do the trick
  • Be upfront. Ask permission and explain your reasons at the start
  • Face the phone down. Calls and notifications can distract you and the participant
  • Start off easy. A few opening questions at the start can put the participant at ease. They often quickly forget you’re even recording

Let it flow

To improve the flow of the interview, slot your questions into the conversation rather than making it apparent you are reading off a set list. This is made easier by carefully preparing the order of your questions so they naturally flow from one topic to another.

Don’t interrupt

This is short and sweet, don’t interrupt your participant. You’re there to hear what they have to say, so ensure they have finished speaking before moving onto the next question.

The post interview chat

I’m proud of this one. Over the course of the interviews, I very quickly learnt to never stop recording until the the participants had left the table/room. Quite often, the most useful information and unexpected answers came while chatting after the more ‘formal’ interview questioning had finished.

Forget it’s even an interview

All of these tips should work towards making sure your participant feels comfortable with you and relaxed with the questioning. To get the most detailed and honest answers, you want your participant to forget they are even being interviewed.

By doing this, you’ve got the answers you want, useful information you weren’t expecting and importantly, built a positive relationship with someone who can hopefully help again further along the process.

 

 

Transformation Beyond Digital

This morning I attended the Transformation Beyond Digital session hosted by Shaping Cloud to learn from other Local Authorities about what transformation means to them. Not only did I get to hang out in Microsoft’s very swanky offices, but I walked away with some valuable lessons we can apply to our work at Bucks.

Start with policy; Deliver with digital; Design with data

Geoff Connell, CIO of Norfolk County Council and President of Socitm led an interesting first session on why digital is about so much more than IT.

We are all aware of the pressures local government is currently facing; meeting increasing demand with depleting budgets. For years, I.T. has been used to automate functions and optimise existing processes. However, the budgets no longer exist to enable us to continue working in the way we have been for years gone by. The only way we will meet the increase in demands with decreased resources is if we completely transform the way we work.

Transformation cannot be led by an IT or Digital team working in isolation. It is our job to work with officers, Members, customer service agents and help them to understand the importance of their expertise and the power of combining that with digital tools. Digital tools alone won’t change the world, but used by the right people in the right way they might certainly help.

Connell spoke of success in transformation in a previous role at the London Boroughs of Newham and Havering. At Newham, they started with policy change to drive a movement towards people becoming more independent and resilient. Digital tools were used to provide the platform on which this could occur. But it was data from analytics and case work that enabled them to find the biggest opportunities and target customers. To put it another way, start with the desired outcome (the policy), then use your tools and data to find a new way to meet that outcome.

We cannot work in isolation if we want to effect change. Diverse, multi-disciplined teams are better at problem solving as each person brings with them their own experience and expertise. At Bucks we have an incredible wealth of talent and complementary skills. When we bring those together in the right way, we will be able to find brand new solutions to old problems enabling true transformation. The bread and butter work of automating and optimising services is still needed and will continue, but it is no longer enough to ensure we meet the future demands on the Council.

Transformation needs context

In the first session above, we spoke about the national context of local government and the key pressures we are all facing. As Mike Ibbitson from London Borough of Ealing took to the podium he took this and emphasised the importance of local context.

Within our Councils, or even our business units, we face different pressures and work in different environments: changing demographics; national infrastructure projects; third sector support services; customer satisfaction. The context this provides is integral to ensuring our services are meeting the needs of our residents.

Ibbitson shared a quote from one of his residents who said they like their GP because they know there is more than one way to treat a patient. We need to use that mindset in our roles too – there is more than one was to deliver a service, to meet our resident’s needs, to fulfill our statutory duties. We need to keep the context of Buckinghamshire and its residents at the forefront of our minds while we look to new opportunities for transformation.

Digital fluency and innovative capacity

Traditionally, the role of the IT team was to support the IT infrastructure in an organisation. As more and more people in the workplace become digital natives and increasing numbers of millenials join our workforce, many people will be able to self serve. However, we need to make sure we promote digital fluency across the council and not limit it to those who got there on their own.

At Ealing they have tackled this by replacing the IT Service Desk with a Digital Skills Centre based in the office case. They encourage colleagues to drop in with any questions they have about a work or personal device. It is a centre to share advice and skills, no longer a service desk meant to respond to single isolated errors.

I would like to think that our colleagues in Bucks find the IT and Digital teams approachable enough to come to us with any questions but I’m sure there is more we could be doing to encourage digital fluency across the council. If you have any ideas or suggestions please do get in touch!

In addition to spreading digital fluency, we need to ensure we are combining trust in our work with capacity to innovate. The day to day tasks do need to continue but we need to allow our staff enough space to think creatively and explore opportunities outside of their comfortable remit. Trusting people with the space to think will allow them to find the ways we can transform our services.

trust-vs-innovation

Industrial Revolution 4.0

Derrick McCourt, Public Sector General Manager at Microsoft, started his talk looking at the industrial revolutions gone by and what the Fourth Industrial Revolution really means (first was water and steam power, the second electricity and mass production, the third computers and automation).

Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum says the Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by

“a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

and we are in the middle of it right now. This is evident in the increasing use of augmented reality and health apps available to all.

However, this means more than simply having some cool new 3d printed tools. It is changing our world in so many ways. Uber is the world’s biggest taxi company and yet doesn’t own a single vehicle or employ a single taxi driver. Where the typical Fortune 500 company took 20 years to be valued at $1bn, Snapchat only took 2.  The future isn’t mobile technology – that is now. We are living it. The future is something that none of us can comprehend as yet.

In many areas we are still catching up. We need to stop planning for a mobile world and realise it is here. Our services should be ready for the world our customers and residents are already living in not planning to get there in a couple of years!

4 easy steps to Transformation

McCourt broke down Transformation into 4 key areas:

  1. Engage your citizens
  2. Empower your employees
  3. Optimise your organisation
  4. Transform your services

As always, our citizens and customers are the most important. Some of our citizens don’t choose to engage with us, they have to because we are a statutory body. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do all that we can to make sure their experience with us is as good as it can possibly be.

The only way we can do that is if we understand our citizens and engage their interest. However, making a great looking entry point to a service is meaningless if the back end processes cannot meet the customer’s needs. This is where we need to empower our employees and optimise our processes. It is only when we look at these three things together that we will be able to transform our services.

transformation

Work shadowing – Digital HQ

By Nicola Johnstone, Family Information Assistant, Buckinghamshire Family Information Service

Last Friday I had the pleasure of spending a day in Digital HQ. I was there to work shadow Becki Boraston, a Digital Content Officer to find out what they are doing in Digital Comms and to gain new skills to develop my current role as a Family Information Assistant for the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service.

Becki’s role is to improve and maintain the Buckscc website.  Her job is to look at the website from the user’s point of view, follow their journey and ensure the user gets the information they require and has the best possible experience.  It was evident that like all successful projects a lot of planning goes into each page before they even start to think about how to build it to the finished polished usable product.

Becki and I discussed some of their current projects, Maintain My Street, Find My Child a School Place, Waste Permits (who knew there were so many types of waste permit!).  She showed me in detail how they use Firmstep, which we also use but it was interesting to see what can be done in the ‘back end’ of the system.

Whilst I was there I also had the opportunity of meeting Liam who is currently working on a paperless post room, Cameron who works  on the e-commerce side and Sarah who is currently working on libraries, who all kindly took time to talk to me about what they do and the goals they are working to.

I found my day really interesting and informative, I thank the team for allowing me to sit with them for the day.

I’ll bring cakes next time!!

Finding digital opportunities in unexpected places

I’m Liam and I recently joined Bucks CC as a digital lead and service designer. My job is to support the digital projects already underway, along with exploring new opportunities to fundamentally reimagine how services are delivered across the council, ensuring we meet both the needs of the user, and those of the business.

Don’t just ‘digitise’ an existing service

At a time when councils have to cut the costs of delivering services, residents and businesses are expecting the same, if not better, level of service. Using digital has been seen by many as the solution to both.

Traditionally, this has involved attempting to ‘digitise’ an existing service with a focus on the operational needs of the council rather than those of the people who use the service.

Quite often, this neither manages to achieve the savings or meet the user’s expectation.

The design of services

Recently, the focus has moved towards using digital approaches to design how services should be delivered. This approach includes:

  • Starting with the user
  • Understanding needs before finding solutions
  • Making small, iterative improvements
  • Breaking down silos and collaborating

As proven by organisations like GDS, this approach is an opportunity to deliver savings and deliver better outcomes for residents and council alike.

Spotting opportunities

Quite often, opportunities come out of high level board meetings, specifically looking into where digital has yet to be utilised to meet the latest round of saving targets.

It’s unfortunate that this is the focus, but we’re also lucky in knowing that using a digital approach, we can meet both the savings target and user’s expectation of the service.

Over time, these ‘untouched services’ are going to become harder to find, but during my short time at Bucks CC I’ve spotted a goldmine of opportunities.

The goldmine

When I started, the two projects that were handed over to me were:

  • Digital post room
  • Paperless office

Now I must admit, they didn’t fill me with excitement, in fact at first, I struggled. However, I very quickly realised that both these areas held the key to identifying so many other services across the council that had not yet started using digital or were only partially taking advantage of its capabilities.

Even after a brief look through postage data or printing volumes, I’ve uncovered so many new areas to explore. Ones that could really benefit from digital to help them save money and more importantly, meet user needs and expectations.

Relationships

Furthermore, post and printing are services that stretch right across the council, so it turned out that these were the perfect projects to kick-off my role here at Bucks CC. They have allowed me to meet lots of people very early on and quickly apply one of the most important skills of a service designer, building relationships.

Through these new relationships, and developing knowledge of the teams and services in the organisation, I hope to continue the wave of culture change to put the user at the heart of ‘digitisation’.

New role, new opportunities

I have come to the end of my third week in a new role as Digital Lead and User Researcher in Children’s Social Care and Learning and I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt so far.

Beneficiaries, customers and stakeholders

Coming into the role I thought knowing our customers and the customer journey would be easy – children, right? And the great news is, everyone I have met is dedicated to improving the life of children in Bucks so we can tick this off as an immediate success.

However, the beneficiary of a service isn’t necessarily the customer. School admissions places children in schools but it is the parents who apply, go through the process and potentially appeal a decision. The fostering and adoption teams need to recruit new parents in order to deliver the service to the children in need of it. The Family Resilience team works with the entire family to protect the interests of the child.

In addition to these customers, we also have stakeholders. These are the people who interact with our services but not necessarily as a customer or beneficiary. Every day this business unit works with the police, medical professionals, headteachers and many more.  We work with the parents, guardians and carers of children. Our social workers and teachers providing frontline support are also integral stakeholders.

So why does it matter? As a council our customers are the residents of Buckinghamshire. In each business unit and service we dedicate ourselves to delivering services to a portion of our residents so we can focus our attention on them and provide the service they need. However, when we are looking at our communications and the processes surrounding our services, we need to be sure they are appropriate for the people we are interacting with at any given point. For example, working with the police will require data security and a level of technical language may be appropriate. Working with families in Family Resilience we need to make sure we use simple language and find accessible ways to share information, perhaps more visually than wordy.

It is easy to fall into a trap of assuming you know who your customers are when you start working with a new service. However, it is integral to take time to understand who the beneficiaries, customers and stakeholders are, their needs, their key issues and how you can work with them most effectively. This will play a key role in ensuring our communications, website content and service developments are successful.

The unknown knowns

When approaching new tasks or projects people often stop to consider three things:

  1. The known knowns (the things you are aware that you know)
  2. The known unknowns (the things you are aware that you don’t know)
  3. The unknown unknowns (what you aren’t yet aware that you don’t know which is always the biggest risk to any project)

Slavoj Žižek proposed that there is a fourth element that we should consider yet most overlook; the unknown knowns – the things we aren’t aware that we know.

In starting a new role you are always faced with the task of figuring out all the information everyone else is already working with – you don’t yet know what everyone else knows. Across the Council, and indeed across all of local government, we have an incredible amount of data about our residents, our services, our website visitors, our internal processes and costs. However we aren’t always very good at using this data effectively.

One of the key opportunities in Children’s Social Care – and across most of the council – is to data together, across services to understand the real opportunities. Each service knows who their customers are but if we can get an idea of how many customers are interacting with multiple services and the key impact that has, we can start tailoring our approach to create a truly successful service.

In social care, if we can understand the root causes of people needing our assistance, thresholds for asking for help and what combinations of support are the most effective then hopefully we can focus our resources on people at highest risk and prevent the social care threshold being reached. We have a lot of this information in isolation but it won’t create any hypotheses until all brought together. We are also missing a key piece of information (a known unknown) that will come from user research – qualitative data understanding people’s journeys through our services. I am hoping to work with the Business Insights and Intelligence team on this piece of work to create a strong foundation upon which our Early Help teams can start planning for the future.

While this piece of work is specific to social care, bringing data together across departments and teams to understand in greater detail our customers drivers and journeys will help us create resilience for a Council of the future. Mike Flowers presented a fantastic example that I previously wrote about, of how sharing data reduced deaths caused by fire in New York City. It can be genuinely life saving!

Digital: Beyond technology

The final point I wanted to make is what we mean by “Digital”. Over the last three weeks I have been asked several times what a “Digital Lead and User Researcher” does. On many occasions people have looked for pieces of technology or software to talk to me about.

You may notice that what I have written about so far in this post isn’t to do with iPads, Smart Watches, augmented reality or Pokemon Go. That is because Digital means so much more than those things. The definition of Digital that we in HQ Digital are working to is:

Applying the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the Internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations.

Nearly half of people using the Bucks CC website are accessing it from a mobile or tablet device so we need to make sure our web content is fit for mobile. Having such easy access to the Internet has meant that people expect to be able to find information in a format that they can understand so that to a certain extent they can self serve. Not only does this apply to the size and shape of web pages but to the words we use. When reading on a mobile device you want information to be succinct and easy to digest.

People’s expectations are higher than ever before. We tend to expect speedy responses, open information and good customer service. Think about how your own opinion of shopping has changed since online shopping has become so easy and delivery so fast. If a shop can’t offer a unique experience, preferential price point or a friendly face then you might as well shop from the comfort of your own home. If we take this approach to our own services, are we providing interactions that people feel satisfied with or are they simply enduring them because we are the Council and they have to? We should be delivering the best experience we can but computers and smartphones are only a tool to use in this practice.

We cannot meet these raised expectations without ensuring our backend processes work in a way that can support this demand. If a customer interface looks cool and slick but the waiting time on a response or action is twice as long then we have not gained anything. When we look at Digital opportunities, we need to look at the end to end process. This is why when I have been meeting people I have asked what the key pressure points are in their service instead of asking where Digital is needed. By looking at where the key issues are, we can find opportunities to start developing the service in the culture, practice, processes and technologies of the Internet-era.

Next steps

I am so excited by the way I have been welcomed into the team and have been delighted to hear of all the work and initiatives already underway. I am looking forward to bringing a holistic and cohesive view to the information available and role of the services within the business unit to ensure we have a resilient business unit that our customers enjoy interacting with.