30 August 2018
Somerset County Council’s Live Chat Story
Somerset County Council has recently implemented live chat for their website, following initial discussions in November 2017 planning their pilot, thorough testing and in-depth training. The communication channel enables residents to easily contact the council, whilst the local authority can streamline their resources.
Live chat allows representatives to handle multiple chats simultaneously. This means that it takes less staff to manage the workload compared with one employee handling one telephone or email enquiry at a time.
The best live chat operators are able handle 3 chats at a time on average, depending on the speed of the enquirer and the complexity of their questions. For example, 5 representatives could handle 15 enquiries whereas responding to the call or email would require one operator for each enquiry.
The council has integrated the live chat system within their contact centre as part of their digital transformation. They have selected a few key pages that experience a good volume of traffic to pilot the communication channel on, they are:
- View or challenge a PCN
- Pay a parking fine
- Highway Area Offices
Customising the Chat
Somerset County Council has configured the chat system to assist their representatives in the most efficient manner. The fields are completely customisable; the council has included a text box on the prechat form for residents to enter their message. This is then fed directly through to the operator who can start responding to their enquiry straight away rather than spend time asking how they can help and waiting for the visitor to reply.
As other areas of the council come on board, they will be able to route the enquiries through to the correct team. This can be achieved by having a department selector on the pre-chat form that the visitor can choose from, or the button can be assigned to the relevant team, based on which page it is positioned.
The windows have been designed with the Council website’s branding. The dialogue window also includes Somerset’s logo. Having a strong consistency with the brand ensures the visitor has confidence that they are speaking directly with a representative from the local authority. This can increase uptake and help the enquirer feel more relaxed about sharing their details.
Somerset County Council have opted to use the offline window to present their unavailability and their chat operational hours, this reduces any enquiries being sent through when representatives are not in the office. Other local authorities have used this space to gather contact details to follow up when their operators are available, or to present useful links they can view in their absence.
As part of their investigatory period, a key member of the contact centre visited Dorset County Council to learn from their knowledge and see the software working in a live environment. The visit went well and was useful to the representative from Somerset County Council.
Dorset County Council is a part of a partnership with several other councils located in the South West. This includes:
- Christchurch Borough Council
- East Dorset District Council
- North Dorset District Council
- Purbeck District Council
- West Dorset District Council
- Weymouth & Portland Borough Council
The Dorsetforyou partnership shares resources including a centralised website, where chats are routed through to the relevant council using Click4Assistance advanced chat routing. Each local authority within the partnership have customised the visitor facing windows with their own logos, helping residents distinguish that they are directing their enquiry to the correct council. .
For more information regarding Somerset County Council’s or Dorsetforyou’s implementation, contact our local authority co-ordinator on 01268 524628, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free demonstration to find out how live chat can work for your organisation.