The People's E-Volution; New Technology Means the Customer Will Have a Choice in How They Interact with the Council

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

The People's E-Volution; New Technology Means the Customer Will Have a Choice in How They Interact with the Council


LIVERPOOL City Council is on the way to becoming the most technologically advanced local authority in the UK.

It is working hard on the next stage of "The People's e-volution" - putting all council services on-line before 2005.

The city council has recently opened Britain's first e-business suite - a showcase for new, cutting edge technology which will improve customer relations. The hi-tech centre on the first floor of the council's Municipal Buildings, in Dale Street, will be a "onestop shop" for VIP visitors from local companies, other authorities and government agencies.

Technological innovations on show which are already being used by council staff include food safety inspectors being able to compile reports on-the spot, using palm-held devices. After years of under-investment and obsolete computer systems, the council is committed to radical changes which will transform services and catapult Liverpool to the top of the performance league table.

Liverpool was named as one of the country's top investors in e-government, with pounds 57m earmarked for wiring up council departments to make them more responsive to customer needs. The report by IT experts Kable put Liverpool third, after Croydon and Coventry, in a list of 168 local authorities investing in new technologies.

Customers are beginning to see positive changes. Liverpool Direct, Britain's biggest customer contact centre, is now the first to operate round the clock - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Professional advisors are on hand to take calls throughout the night so a lot of the preparation and paperwork can be dealt with then, freeing up more time to take action the following day.

Because of its success, the award-winning centre is set to radically expand under the auspices of the council's Joint Venture with BT. Soon there will be more than 200 advisors taking calls from the general public about council services. At the moment there are 122 advisors, taking 35,000 calls a week.

Liverpool Direct cannot afford to remain static. It has to find imaginative solutions to meet increasing demands from people who want services at a time and in a way that is suitable to them. It also has to provide a comprehensive service. People expect all their enquiries to be resolved first time.

The challenge is to increase the capacity of Liverpool Direct and improve the quality of services provided. That is why hours are being extended, and there has been a multimillion pound investment in Oracle hi-tech products to join up all services to provide a complete and highly personalised service for each individual customer.

A wholescale implementation of Oracle's "Customer Relationship Management" system is Liverpool's ace-card in the bid to become a premier cutting edge

council. …

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