Saving time and money for both the customer and Brighton & Hove City Council
Introducing the Esendex/Northgate Public Services Partnership
Having worked in partnership since 2009, Esendex and Northgate Public Services are at the forefront of providing intelligent Customer Engagement Management (CEM) solutions.
By integrating Esendex’s SMS delivery systems with Northgate’s software solutions for the public sector, customers can benefit from improved communications and better customer service
The partnership provides solutions for a variety of services ranging from council tax and blue badge parking renewal notifications, to the management of HGV (heavy goods vehicles) levies.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) Revenues & Benefits service has a digital vision to modernise access to services, complementing the government’s Digital Service Standard strategy.
Through understanding customer needs, staff use improvements in technology to communicate with customers. These include electronic forms for moving house, going paperless with eBills, sending text messages and a ‘view your Council Tax Account’ portal, allowing customers to engage through channels of their choice.
Customers in arrears receive text message notifications generated from the Northgate system and delivered via the integrated Esendex SMS application programming interfaces (API).
BHCC are able to send bulk or individual messages at specific times, meaning customers can be contacted at times of the day when they are more likely to respond. All of the communications can then be managed and saved within the system, which gives BHCC a complete line of traceability.
SMS solution integrated with the Northgate Revenues & Benefits product to target specific customers through bulk or individual text messaging.
As an example, this could be to remind people who are not up to date with their instalments to accelerate cash flow and to prevent the cost of sending out paper invoices or reminders. With seven out of 10 people in the UK now owning a smartphone*, BHCC identified mobile phones as a convenient way to cater for customers’ increasing requirement to be notified of specific services, make payments online or access information through self-serve portals.
In the cases of customers who were in arrears for council tax repayment, BHCC noticed the following in the early months of adoption:
- In February 2016, 194 text reminders were sent with 66% of customers paying
- In April 2016, 430 text reminders were sent with 47% of customers paying
- In May 2016, 408 text reminders were sent with 52% of customers paying
The council received great feedback from customers, with the ability to contact BHCC via the linked phone number being a particular highlight. This even resulted in more customers setting up Direct Debits so that they don’t receive the notifications again in the future
After a successful implementation of the Esendex / Northgate SMS communication solution, BHCC are now committed to increasing the use of SMS for both individual and bulk messaging, as well as into other areas of their benefits service.
“Texts are an easy and affordable way to instantly communicate with a targeted audience.”
NICKY DONALDSON-ALLDIS, SYSTEMS PROGRAM MANAGER AT BHCC
More from BHCC
“Text messages can be used to rapidly engage with customers to remind them that a payment is due or that further information is required. We found that this prevents further recovery action, saving time and money for both the customer and the council.”
Nicky Donaldson-Alldis, Systems Program Manager at BHCC