02 August 2018
London Borough of Havering’s Live Chat Story of True Perseverance
Some councils can be super speedy at fully implementing live chat, achieving this in just a few days. Usually, others can take a couple of months ensuring procurement processes have been followed to the tee, their representatives have been completely trained and every aspect of the solution considered. On the other hand, The London Borough of Havering Council has certainly experienced the most interchangeable adoption of the communication channel accomplishing their goal 3 years later!
Starting the project in 2015, several discussions took place between Click4Assistance and the council’s implementation team, which consists of an Implementation Manager at oneSource (who works on behalf of Bexley, Havering and Newham Councils), the Technology and Performance Officer and the Digital Officer at The London Borough of Havering.
The council was originally going to try out the live chat solution within one area of the website. They were considering either placing a reactive chat button on their Parking Permits pages, allowing visitors to instantly gain help, or adding a proactive invitation on their Green Bin Renewal page. This would streamline the type of enquiries they received, by timing the image to appear to offer help to individuals who are taking a bit longer than average to complete the form.
However, this was the first decision to change.
Plan B – The Highs and Lows
After internal discussion the London Borough decided to try out a proactive invitation on their Council Tax General Enquiry page. Across local authorities’ websites, this is a section that attracts a high volume of traffic therefore has good potential for uptake.
They used a template design that didn’t really fit with their website branding; this echoed within their results, only attracting a handful of chats a day.
Reviewing the effects, the implementation team discussed suggestions for improvements with their account manager, deciding to redesign the proactive invitation with their branding as “customers may be put off using webchat if they think the pop up [proactive] is a marketing tool if it does not have the Havering brand.”
With this change they experienced a much higher uptake of 12.5% with 70% of enquirers rating the chat as positive. Thing were looking up for the council!
During the implementation period there were several occasions where the project had to be placed on the backburner. Other work took priority, the web and telephone systems were reviewed and they previously couldn’t prove a cost saving as their back end services only allowed one enquiry to be accessed at a time.
The Actual Implementation
With systems updated and more departments interested in using the web chat system, the council have initially implemented the communication channel on their School Admissions Pages opting for a reactive chat button to provide instant help. They have customised the chat button and windows to fit with their website branding, taking on board their previous results for uptake.
Using the pre-chat to collect the visitor’s details, the council has configured the form to include validated fields such as postcode, ensuring the enquirer is part of the ward, and the enquiry type. Allowing them to select from: in year admissions, starting infant / primary school in September, transferring to infant / junior school, or starting secondary school in September, helps prepare representatives for what section their questions relate to.
Each council’s implementation of live chat software varies, as they have different requirements. For users who have local or domain administrator access rights, they can use the self-extracting setup package to install the solution.
The London Borough of Havering expressed that they would need to download the solution from their pc network. Councils using a thin-client environment such as Citrix or Terminal Server can install the application with a compressed file containing the msi and associated files that we provide onto multiple PC’s over a corporate network.
North Warwickshire’s Implementation
Another Borough Council that has added chat to website through Citrix is North Warwickshire. They have added the communication channel across their website to offer help to their residents whatever their enquiry.
The council has simply customised the chat windows with their corporate colours, seamlessly fitting with their website branding. They have also included their logo on their chat dialogue window, increasing residents’ confidence that they are speaking directly with the local authority’s representatives.
To find out more information regarding these council’s implementations or to find out how you can add chat to website, contact our local authority co-ordinator on 01268 524628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.