Our Digital Shift Programme is one of the major programmes that has been prioritised by our Housing Service to provide more digital online services for people living in the Babergh Mid Suffolk area. ‘Open Access’ would help the council meet its digital objectives. It would provide tenants with the flexibility to communicate with the council using the method they want, as well as reducing pressure on Housing Teams and Customers Services to deal with queries that tenants could easily answer using a self-service option.
This would also fit in with one of key objectives outlined in our Tenant Services Service Plan which is to deliver a quality service to tenants. By providing tenants with easy access to the data they require.
By implementing Open Access and allowing tenants to self-serve online via their smartphone, tablet or laptop will mean that staffs’ time is freed up to help support tenants who prefer not to engage digitally, ensuring resources are used efficiently on those who need it while at the same time providing a digital solution for tenants who want to access information timely.
Open Access was originally used by approximately 400 Babergh tenants, before Mid Suffolk and Babergh Councils began working together. Following consolidation, of both Councils Housing Management Software. We had a desire to reintroduce Open Access but when demoing the product to senior management it was realised that the product was not good enough in its current condition to launch to tenants and did not offer a good user experience.
Issues were identified with product:
- Open Access was offering a very limited, poor customer experience. Many of the functions were simply pointing the tenant to the council website.
- Users were unable to see appointment dates and times of repairs. Tenants should be able to see exactly when their repair has been booked and the status, to prevent avoidable direct contact.
The launch of Open access ultimately failed for the following reasons:
- No Business Case – was created to look at the reasons why tenants needed a self-service portal and weigh up the benefits and cost of the product.
- Business Objectives – Not enough work done to ensure the product tied in with the core business objectives.
- Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
- Introduction to user research
- Introduction to delivery management
- Introduction to digital business analysis