21 March 2019
Raising Council Tax? Save Resources with Web Chat Software
As austerity continues, local authorities have little choice but to raise council tax in 2019-20, with three-quarters of councils set to increase tax by more than 2.5% from April.
The Local Government Information Unit’s (LGiU) Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West has commented “We know that council funding is broken. Councils are making do by increasing council tax as much as they can, increasing charging and dipping in to their reserves.”
Nearly a third of councils intend to reduce adult social care and a quarter to reduce children’s services. Whilst:
- 46% of councils say they will reduce arts and culture
- 45% say they will reduce parks and leisure
- 32% say they will reduce libraries
- 22% will reduce waste collection
- 11% will reduce recycling
It’s an extremely difficult situation to overcome; residents will be affected either way as they will have an increase in expenditure to keep their local services or face a reduction to them / losing them altogether.
Andrew Proctor, Norfolk County council Leader, commented “I don’t want to see the council tax go up any more than it has to, but if you look at it from a financial sustainability point of view, it’s probably local taxation that will pick up the bill for local services.”
Norfolk County Council uses Click4Assistance’s web chat software along with many other local authorities across the UK. The instant communication channel enables councils to continue providing good customer service whilst saving resources within their call centres.
Saving Resources with Web Chat Software
Web chat software is popular amongst residents as they can instantly speak with a representative in real time via text based messages. The communication channel is cost effective, as many councils have implemented web chat for under £5000 a year, therefore not reliant on any lengthy tender process.
Once in place, web chat can triple representatives’ productivity, as they are able to handle multiple chat sessions at the same time. This allows for a smaller team to handle incoming enquiries, and the savings made from salaries to be reinvested elsewhere such as valuable services to residents, whilst preventing customer service from suffering as a result of the reallocation.
Many councils have invested heavily into their online portals to digitalise their services. Some of these local authorities have implemented web chat software in order to aid their residents using the portals and accurately signpost them around the site or to the right information.
Sunderland City Council is just one of the local authorities to utilise web chat to enhance their residents’ use of their online portal. Optimising functionality such as Auto Navigation, automatically directs the visitor to the correct form or area of the website, or Predefined Replies that provide pre-agreed information along with any relevant links that the resident would require. This helps to speed up an advisor’s response rate whilst providing accurate information, therefore still satisfying the customer but in a shorter amount of time.
Council’s should focus on ensuring residents are satisfied when they enquirer, to help improve first contact resolution rates. Web chat software can help local authorities to achieve this with the use of routing. The intelligent chat distribution system can either automatically direct the visitor through to the right team based on what department is allocated to the chat button, alternatively a resident can select on a prechat form a specific area they wish to discuss e.g. council tax, adult social care, or waste disposal. Ensuring that enquirers are speaking to the right advisors straightaway, preventing abandonment and further costly contact.
Web chat software has been proven to be a massive resource saver when funding for councils is constrained. For more information contact our team on 01268 524628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Click4Assistance has been providing the instant communication channels for over 10 years and works with many local authorities across the UK, therefore our knowledgeable experts understand the challenges you face.