With nearly 42 million adults in the UK accessing the internet every day, customers are starting to expect digital journeys to be quick, simple and easily accessible regardless of office hours. It presents an unprecedented opportunity for local authorities to capitalise on this demand for information by ensuring their services are available to book online 24/7. From sports pitches to meeting rooms, upcoming events or courses – customers will want to be able to book these online at a time that suits them.

The National Survey of the Public Sector 2016, conducted by the software company Liferay, received responses from more than 200 officials within local government (50 per cent) along with team leaders working within central government, the NHS and other services. The results reported opinions and concerns from respondents who were in the process of, or were deeply considering, implementing a digital strategy and what advantages they anticipated after setting up a ‘digital self-service’.

The study highlighted a number of critical goals that should be considered by any organisation either implementing or planning to implement a digital transformation strategy.

Save money

Results from the National Survey of the Public Sector show the largest driver for public services going digital is due to ‘budget squeezes’. For those who had begun their digital transformation (with either foundations in place or some services implemented), 44 per cent believed significant savings had already been seen and nearly 90 per cent anticipated seeing significant cost savings within the next three to five years.

This is in line with previous findings by The Government’s Digital Service report published in 2012, which found that face-to-face interactions with customers can cost between £6.62 – £8.62 per interaction and telephone interactions can cost between £2.83 – £4.11. Both of which are significantly more than online interactions which are believed to cost just 15-20p.

The cost savings available to councils by providing online booking of appointments, council operated facilities such as sports pitches and council organised events, could be in the tens of thousands per month, with the potential to save millions in the long-term, if the systems are implemented correctly and the project gets suitable buy-in from staff.

Save time

Through channel shift, local government can also save time whilst reducing the risk of human error. Staff who were once regularly on the phone manually taking bookings or answering queries, will have more time to work on key service tasks. Implementing online booking systems will free up the phonelines for customers who do require the advice of a member of staff, will help to reduce waiting times and reach key performance targets.

Increase customer engagement

With eight in 10 people using the internet every day last year, the need for council services to be accessible online is growing. Public sector organisations need to ensure their online facilities meet the needs of users by implementing software systems that improve customer experience. Instead of being limited to office working hours, online booking systems allow customers to make a booking at any time and from anywhere in the world – creating a flexible and simple way to book. This will be good news for the 50 per cent of respondents of the National Survey of the Public Sector, who said they hoped digital transformation would improve how the public interacted with their organisation.

However customer engagement can only be measured against customers completing the process online and so it is also important that systems are implemented with an attention to web accessibility and user experience, as users are likely abandon online bookings if the process is too complex or unintuitive.

If this you found this article interesting why not see how Stopford’s comprehensive range of booking systems could help save your organisation time and money whilst increasing customer engagement by contacting us today?