This Wednesday Kirklees Council hosted its fourth BetterOff Show and Tell day in Huddersfield. Six local authorities from across the country joined LookingLocal and Kirklees Council at the Huddersfield Leisure Centre to hear about the latest progress with BetterOff Kirklees. BetterOff is a new online platform that tackles the benefit and welfare process end-to-end; from assessing entitlement to benefits, guiding claimants through benefits applications and helping claimants into work.
Quick headlines from the day include:
- The BetterOff talks for the day were led by Steve Langrick, Head of Online Strategy and Development at Kirklees Council and Nick Whittingham, Chief Executive at Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre (CALC).
- With 70% of claimants using BetterOff to self-serve means that qualified advisers are then able to spend more face-to-face time with the vulnerable case.
- Last financial year through the implementation of BetterOff Kirklees Council made a cashable saving of £390,000 from it’s advice budget.
- Since the launch date on the 15th October 2015 BetterOff Kirklees has reported:
- over 6000 unique visitors
- monetary gains of over £3.6million and
- specialist advice requests dropped by 50%.
- Delegates were some of the first to receive a preview of the new BetterOff HB/CTR forms.
- Over the last year Kirklees CALC has doubled the number of customers they assist with half the funding.
- This was the first Show and Tell where we were also joined by Diane Chapman, Customer Service Manager at Kirklees Council who introduced delegates to Kirklees’ new self-serve document scanning technology, ScanStation.
- Main driver for the ScanStation is channel shift.
- For HB/CTR claims alone, the channel shift saving from ScanStation was calculated as high as £114k.
- Customer surveys have identified that 75% of customers should be able to shift to using ScanStation.
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For a more detailed view of the day, please read on...
The Show and Tell day was a chance for local authorities to talk to the main people at Kirklees Council that led in the implementation of the platform, understand the background and the multi-partnership approach, as well as to see a demonstration of the technology. The day has an informal tone as described by Steve Langrick, Head of Online Channel Strategy and Development at Kirklees Council;
“The setting for the Show and Tell is relatively informal as each organisation has different priorities and we want to allow delegates to ask questions relevant to their needs.”
The talks for the day were led by Steve Langrick, Nick Whittingham,Chief Executive at Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre and as an addition to this event we were also joined by Diane Chapman, Customer Service Manager at Kirklees Council who introduced delegates to Kirklees’ newest self-serve technology, ScanStation. The day was split into two halves with Steve and Nick covering BetterOff in the morning session and Diane introducing ScanStation in the afternoon.
The Business Case
Steve Langrick kicked off discussions for the day with an explanation behind why Kirklees Council decided to develop BetterOff, including the business case for doing so. Cuts to advice provision led Kirklees Council to realise that change was necessary and with the overall vision of the council being that “residents do more for themselves and each other” the move to self-serve technology seemed the perfect fit.
Detailed analysis was undertaken before the development of BetterOff to ensure that self-serve didn’t also mean that any vulnerable people “fell through the net”. Kirklees identified three different claimant levels; 40% of which are able to self-serve, 30% which need some support and the remaining 30% that are considered complex or vulnerable cases that will still need face-to-face support from an advisor. From this analysis they could estimate that 70% of claimants would be able to self-serve given the right digital tools, hence BetterOff Kirklees was developed. With 70% of claimants using self-serve it means that qualified advisers are then able to spend more face-to-face time with the more vulnerable case.
In terms of savings, Kirklees Council has reported that last financial year it made a cashable saving of £390,000 from it’s advice budget. There was also a review of the most recent statistics since the launch date on the 15th October 2015 which included: over 6000 unique visitors to the BetterOff Kirklees platform, monetary gains of over £3.6million and specialist advice requests dropped by 50%. Although the product is still in soft launch phase these are already impressive results.
After Steve Langrick had explained the thinking behind the BetterOff platform, Andrew Jackson, New Business Manager at LookingLocal took delegates through a demonstration of the platform. This was the first Show and Tell day that Andrew was also able to show delegates a preview of the new BetterOff HB/CTR form. You can read more about the different elements of BetterOff here.
After the demonstration Nick Whittingham, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice and Law Centre (CALC) in Kirklees talked about how BetterOff Kirklees is bing used by Citizen Advice.
Before BetterOff was implemented, there were often long queues in both the Huddersfield and Dewsbury centres.Over the last year CALC has doubled the number of customers they assist with half the funding. A significant shift in working practices has enabled customers to get advice quickly.
Most notably, Nick said that in Kirklees, since using BetterOff in their centres, both for customers who self-serve and those who need a little support to use the system has resulted in a higher level of customer satisfaction. This is due to the fact that these customers no longer need to wait around for an adviser to be free and can instead have their enquiries answered via BetterOff. Nick gave one example of a customer who had booked an entire morning off work in order for her CALC appointment but then later remarked that she was pleasantly surprised that her query had been dealt with in just ten-minutes giving her more time to do the things she wanted to do.
Nick’s main recommendation to any organisation thinking about implementing BetterOff is to involve their partners such as local Citizens Advice in the process, in order to improve overall advice provision.
As mentioned above this Show and Tell day was the first chance for Kirklees Council to introduce to delegates it’s newest self-serve technology, ScanStation. ScanStation is a self-serve document scanner made of a combination of an easy-to-use Android app, a bespoke furniture solution and wifi-connected tablets. Designed in partnership with Customer Service Managers, the app is an accessible, simple to integrate system, offering a seamless customer-focused end-to-end solution.
Diane Chapman, Customer Service Centres Manager at Kirklees Council talked about how the main driver for the ScanStation is channel shift. During the analysis for ScanStation savings were identified for the potential of shifting all HB/CTR claims that need to scan supporting documents to a self-serve solution. For HB/CTR claims alone, the channel shift saving was calculated as high as £114k.
Customer surveys have identified that 75% of customers should be able to shift to using ScanStation meaning that advisers can then offer face-to-face guidance to those that need it most. As well as using advisers time more effectively, ScanStation will ultimately diminish customer contact centre queues improving customer satisfaction.
At the end of the Show and Tell delegates were taken to see the ScanStation’s in place at the Kirklees Customer Service Centre.
Public Sector Sharing
Overall the day provided a great opportunity for local authorities to come together over a challenge that we are all too familiar with. There are plans to further improve the features and functionality within the BetterOff product working with our partners throughout the UK. Steve Langrick commented;
"The BetterOff Show and Tell day's have been very successful in being able to engage with other organisations in the public sector over a challenge we are all too familiar with.
“We are very pleased with the BetterOff platform and the collaboration of other public sector organisations is more than welcome. Not only will it help them to overcome the same challenges we have, but the collaborative approach will also help in continuously improving the service BetterOff provides.”
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