Self-Service: Exploding the MythsThe Trapeze Team | September 04, 2017
Self-Service tools – those that enable end users to undertake processes previously managed internally – help public sector transport departments to deliver better quality of services with less effort while saving valuable budget. In this age of austerity that sounds like the perfect solution. So why isn’t everyone using them already?
In our experience, opposition most often takes the form of one of three main concerns. Let’s look at them in turn.
1. “I can’t afford it”
Availability of funding is of course a prime concern with any procurement. As such it is essential to be able to show a clear, verifiable return on investment. The nature and scale of savings will be driven by the type of self-service being undertaken, though we have seen significant successes in multiple different environments:
- Self-service school transport applications reduces requirements for temporary call centre staff. Worcestershire County Council achieved a 57% reduction in call volumes to their call centre – that’s 2,500 fewer calls in the first summer alone.
- Self-service in public-facing DRT bookings reduce the burden on call centre staff. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) launched an online portal which resulted in a huge increase in bookings – significantly reducing the proportion of jobs being booked by phone (compared with online).
- Self-service in social worker bookings has enabled Leeds City Council to reduce office workload while maintaining the same level of bookings, and reduce the number of telephone queries by transport requesters.
Regardless which type of self-service is being implemented, Trapeze can help you to make a convincing, verifiable business case based on a ‘spend to save’ return on investment. Please get in touch to arrange for one of our consultants to run through the figures with you.
2. “People will hate it”
This is a common concern, but in reality perceptions are changing quickly. In the modern, always-on world, users not only accept self-service – they demand it: Parature report that 90% of consumers expect organisations to offer self-service, with almost half looking more favourably on those that do so.
The caveat here is that effective self-service solution has to work for the user: a poor self-service portal may well reduce reliance on office staff, but will disengage users. Great self-service empowers and assists users by helping them to obtain the information they require quickly and easily, whenever and wherever they like. Here’s how to do so:
- Deliver a great user experience
The key to an effective self-service platform is to understand user requirements. Users aren’t necessarily computer interface experts, and they certainly don’t understand the ins and outs of your technology. Therefore you can’t simply take your standard booking interface and put it online and expect it to be well received. Instead, focus on a clear, simple and easily understood interface that can quickly process the bulk of interactions without worrying about catering for every last scenario (that’s what your office team is there for).
- Allow users to speak to actual people
We all know how frustrating it is to use an online portal that makes it difficult to speak to a real person. A great self-service portal offers an automatic process for the bulk of interactions, but recognises that more complex interactions will need to be managed via human interaction. In such instances, make it easy for users to speak with a person!
- Help users to use the portal
Early adoption is critical for the successful launch of any self-service portal – after all, it’s perfectly true here that you only get one chance to make a strong first impression. While a great user interface is critical (see above), recognise that some users may need support in the adoption phase. Short embedded videos, on-screen hints, and even support workshops will all help to ensure users understand the portal and have confidence in adopting it fully. We will cover these elements more fully in an upcoming guide.
- Work with all devices and platforms
Effective self-service must work on the user’s terms, not yours. To that end it is critical that your portal is compatible with whichever device or platform users wish to use, and in every conceivable scenario (at home, at work or on the move). In the modern age – with huge diversity of available technology – a responsive website which adapts to meet user’s requirements whether they are using a PC, tablet or Smartphone is often a sensible approach for self-service. However, Trapeze has huge experience in choosing the most suitable platform and will help you to determine what is best for your organisation.
3. “Self-service is a threat”
While this is an understandable concern, in actual fact self-service protects public sector transport departments by enabling them to continue to deliver services with available budgets.
Organisations such as Leeds City Council have already discovered that self-service is an effective way to automate the bulk of data processing in order to free up staff to undertake planning and focus on scheduling more efficient routes. As Business Manager Dylan Owen says, it means staff are “able to do more of the big stuff.”
We believe “the big stuff” Dylan refers to is the kind of work that humans are good at: improving service levels, providing extra value and costs savings throughout the department; rather than spending time re-keying data that has been passed through from elsewhere.
In summary: as we move towards an increasingly technology driven world, actions which can be easily automated are most at threat. It is therefore important that transport delivery teams focus their efforts on strategic thinking and spend time coming up with innovative new ways to deliver better services in the most efficient ways possible.