Thank you for the opportunity to present to you today, and I hope that you are able to take advantage of some of the things I am going to share with you today. In the current climate of Public expenditure cutbacks it is increasingly important that we look at ways of increasing website take up, reducing our failure rates for visits to the web and ensure that is levels of visitor satisfaction is maintained and increased where ever possible.
Wrexham, is situated in the North East of Wales, south of Chester with easy access to Manchester and Liverpool. Wrexham CBC created in 1996. Clwyd County Council and its districts were abolished by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, and on 1 April 1996 Clwyd was replaced by the four unitary authorities of Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy and Wrexham. The population of Wrexham County Borough is 132,900 (2008 mid year estimate), with over 60,000 living in Wrexham town (the largest in North Wales). Wrexham is the main retailing centre in North Wales with the town being the main draw for a catchment area that extends across Flintshire, Denbighshire, rural Conwy and Gwynedd and much of Shropshire. It ranks as the 3 rd largest retail centre in Wales after Cardiff and Swansea. Wrexham is also home to a number of manufacturing companies. Sharp, JCB, Kellogg's and Cadbury all have factories and there has been a growth in the medical, bioscience and sustainable energy sectors. Tourism generates £75m of revenue per annum for the County. Leisure facilities include regional tennis centre, numerous restaurants, bars and country pubs as well as a National Hunt racecourse at Bangor-on-Dee, an athletics stadium, international football ground (although team play in Conference League), several top quality golf clubs and unspoilt countryside in the Ceiriog Valley. Not to forget our 2 two National Trust properties, Chirk Castle and Erddig, and the recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage site of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Since 1999 there has been a transformation of our website. I am sure is the case for all of our websites. These images show how our website has evolved: 1999 (earliest version I could find) 2001 (winners of SPiN SOCITM award for best site in Wales) 2010 (today)
Background: The web was originally IT responsibility and was used for posting press releases via corporate comms. I saw the potential of making the web a serious channel for our customers, and the egovernment agenda enabled us to establish the basis for building a new site. Despite not having any funding for eGovernment in Wales, I decided that we should learn from the mistakes in England and adopt the best practice in Wrexham! Winning awards is an indication that the gamble paid off! This is the strategy that Wrexham has continued to use, not one to jump in feet first, we are usually not far behind and try to ensure that we avoid many of the obstacles that others found when the leapt! Site re-launched back at end of 2000 Accessibility and Welsh language were all key drivers for the early web. Remember that we have to do everything twice an English ands a Welsh site. WCBC website still has no CMS Website still managed centrally by web team (currently 4xFT), with no devolved authoring (Press Releases the exception) Pros and Cons Pros: Web team has full editorial control and can refuse to publish information that is not suitable, or written to a suitable standard Cons: Side wide changes are a lengthy and painful process DPH management style My style has always been to give the web manager a clear mandate to deliver the best possible website. I have a great team of individuals, and I leave them to get on with the job. I aim to keep Chief Officers, Directors and Councillors away from interfering with the team
Back in 2001 – Egovernment was all about getting ‘services’ online. Implementing eGovernment in Wales and Wrexham was identified back then as: Delivering better services in a way that suits the public and makes sense to them Putting the customer at the centre of service delivery Joined up working & integration of information to provide a one-stop approach Partnership with other service providers Providing services more efficiently This probably sounds quite familiar today.
Today, our vision is “ Focusing on our Customers 2009 – 2012 ”. Wrexham Council is committed to delivering services that meet the needs of all our customers. First Customer Focus Strategy developed in 2005. Since then Launch of “Digital TV” (Oct 2006); “ Pride in your Streets” (Sept 2007) and “ Contact Wrexham” & website refresh (Jan 2008) Core Principles Developed set of principles of how we want to deliver services to customers. We aim to:- Ask our customers what services they want and how they want them delivered (Take-up Survey one element). Make it easy for customers to access our services (web, phone, F2f) Provide a high quality of service (mystery shopper) Remove any unnecessary bureaucracy from our procedures and make best use of IT to provide services Use the information that customers provide us with to understand problem areas and to improve our services. (Feedback) Access to Services We aim to make it easy for customers to access services via a variety of ways to contact us, at times to suit customers (in a range of formats and languages to suit their needs) Current Position We currently provide access via the Website, by telephone, E mail, letter and face to face. In last 3 years: Extended our opening hours to enable customers to contact us at times convenient to them (8.30 – 17.30) Increased the number of interactive services available on our website For the next 3 years: Extend self service facilities on website Extend face to face services at “Contact Wrexham” Publish telephone and e mail addresses for our frequently used services only Publish a single telephone number and E Mail address for all remaining services Review options to provide “Contact Wrexham” in locations throughout the County Improve our ability to monitor responses to customer feedback
Customer Access Improvement Service (CAIS) Half-yearly review (Dec 2009) The third half yearly summary brings with it some interesting findings. Data shows that the web is the main customer access channel. In Sept 2009, according to data for 56 councils, 70% of interactions came via website; 17% via telephone and 13% from face-to-face. Wrexham highlighted in the report as “best in Wales”, for ‘Success in Finding Information’. Wrexham is also one of only 5 Council’s with a net overall satisfaction rating of 50% or more.
There has been a big increase in take up of the web since 2001, as shown here The reason for the blue/green split is that at the beginning of 2009, with our new website, we changed the way we recording website activity As you will see there has been a steady increase, with a large jump in activity for the Severe Weather earlier this year.
Q9. Overall, how satisfied are you with your visit today?
Q6. Did you find what you were looking for today?
Q8. How likely are you to return to this website in the future?
The reality of improving the web is that it adds real value to the organisation. At the end of the day it is no good having a website that looks great, if you are not enabling people to do what they want. And you have to support the needs of the business, and we were amongst the first to add online payments to our website and the reality has been that from 1.5% of total revenues back in 2004-05, automated payments now account for nearly 6% of all Wrexham Council’s revenue. To me, that is a key success factor.
The other side of the web is that it does save the Council money by enabling people to conduct ‘transactions’ as and when they want. There is a real cost per transaction, as defined by SOCITM. Taking the number of transactions on the Wrexham website, there is a real cost of the transactions on the web Web (£0.39) = £84,370 Taking the same number of transaction, if is possible to see how much it would have cost the authority if the public had used the alternative channels: Phone (£3.21) = £694,434 F2F (£8.23) = £1,780,433 It is then possible to show a (theoretical) saving to the Authority, based on the average of these two (more expensive channels) less the cost of the web 2009/10 Saving = £1,153,063
It’s quite simple really… Good team Strong Coffee Strong Leadership Tenacity & Hard work Well, OK, that’s not the whole picture!
Routine checks Website checks & updates (fixing broken links, accessibility checks, ensuring valid HTML etc) Monitoring feedback, website and customer satisfaction These are monitored each month, and where issues are identified they are fixed where possible. Reactive Reports are reviewed by the webteam, and quick wins are implemented e.g. Key Matches for Google, problem pages on the website or mistakes of the website identified by public
Publishing reports & feedback Reports on website activity, search enquiries, website survey feedback are made available monthly via email to Councillors, Chief Officers and to all staff via the Intranet. Encourage / Embarrass departments The monthly reports are useful, not least because they are widely published (to Chief Officers & Cllrs direct, and to all Staff via Intranet) Feedback has enabled us to push those departments and teams who have not been progressive at putting their information and services online, or who’s data was out of date. Feedback from customers has helped highlight issues, and is resulting in changes to the website. If things regularly appear in the reports, embarrassment is a great way of making my fellow Chief Officers take note and take appropriate action to remedy the situation! Change website accordingly based on feedback / criticisms January 2009: Take-up survey feedback about what people COULD NOT find: “ school closures - listen to macher” (Male, 60-64) “ Information regarding school closures - Denbighshire has it on the front page of its website”. (Female, 18-29) School Closures system developed (in-house) & launched ready for Christmas 2009 January 2010: “ Excellent Website, Regular Updated information on bus routes, bin collections and school closures during the snow and icey conditions.. well done!!” (Male, 30-39) “ was good, easy to visit. checking re schools and also found out bins not being emptied tomorrow-useful info” (Female, 40-49)
What’s the secret to Wrexham Maximising visitor satisfaction? Joined up working Contact Wrexham (OSS & Call Centre) & Web come under my remit. The teams are in regular contact, and when call volumes increase about a particular topic webteam is contacted asking to ensure that the information is made clearly visible on the front page to reduce enquiries. E.g. Severe weather updates (Website and Call Centre) Cancelled bin collections Be a follower of fashion, not a ‘Trend Setter’ Customisable front page was the thing to do, following BBC website. First Local Authority to do that was Redbridge – held up as best practice in 2007, and everyone liked it. Wrexham watched and learned – its own interactive front page & website refresh implemented Jan 2009 Social Media – Pilot in Wrexham during Summer 2009, WCBC presence on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr established Oct 90 ready for bad weather Build on Success Wrexham was mentioned 12 times in BC 2010, 1 criticism. That was a failure that had been highlighted in the past, so I made sure that as soon as possible we fixed the issue – Ensuring that we had an out of hours message that made reference to the web! FINAL ADVICE Listen to customers, watch the competition and NEVER sit back and relax! Wrexham is always striving to improve, and that has been the best driver for our success.
Minimising visit failure; maximising visitor satisfaction Dave Hylands, Chief Information Systems Officer, with responsibility for Customer Access Wrexham County Borough Council
Publish Information (feedback & reports to Chief Officers, Cllrs and making it available to staff via Intranet)
Encourage updates / Embarrass departments
e.g. School Closures - Jan 2009 “Missing information regarding school closures - Denbighshire has it on the front page of its website!” (Female, 18-29) - Jan 2010 “Excellent Website, Regular Updated information on bus routes, bin collections and school closures during the snow and icey conditions.. well done!!” (Male, 30-39)