Medway Council is a unitary authority in Kent, providing all local government services for a quarter of a million people. Medway is made up of the towns of Rochester, Strood, Gillingham, Chatham, and Rainham and rural areas including the Hoo Peninsula.
Services for which it is responsible include education, environment, social care, housing, planning and business - everything from frontline services such as rubbish collection to work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that services in Medway run smoothly and cost effectively.
Medway Council had an existing contact centre, but some other contact centre functions were fulfilled by separate teams within the council.
To improve call handling and more effectively utilise staff, the decision was made to bring separate call centre functions into the one contact centre.
"Maintaining our service to residents was a top priority, but we were also facing budget constraints," said Moira Bragg, Head of ICT. "So we needed to focus on increasing efficiency to support our 'Better for Less' initiative while improving our agility in delivering services."
To do this Medway Council needed a way to better manage its contact centre staff - and to move beyond the traditional method of managing rotas via spreadsheets.
Redcentric proposed to Medway Council that it implement Noble Systems' ShiftTrack workforce management solution. The system is designed for organisations that need to forecast and schedule staff in contact centre environments, and it fulfilled the requirements of managing the contact centre using real data in an efficient manner.
Furthermore, the system would integrate effectively with the IPFX call centre solution that Redcentric had previously implemented for Medway Council.
Medway Council deployed Noble ShiftTrack in its contact centre in late 2010, and immediately started to reap the rewards of a more efficient way to manage contact centre staff.
The Council then began to move the additional teams that dealt with resident queries into the contact centre. While separate functions can still work as discrete teams within the centre, they can now benefit from working in a dedicated contact centre environment.
"By moving into the contact centre they can now focus exclusively on dealing with resident enquiries," said Angela Ashton, Business Improvement Team Manager. "This allows for better coverage, and in some cases longer operating hours. It also ensures proper queue management is available as previously some calls were routed to specific extensions."
To manage the expanded team Noble Systems' ShiftTrack is essential. Staff scheduling was moved into the business improvement team's remit, allowing them to focus on utilizing existing staff more effectively. By replacing the time-intensive spreadsheets, the team can now easily plan and adapt working schedules to meet varying requirements.
This also freed up the time of the team leaders to focus more on managing their teams rather than administration. As well as making day to day management more effective, Noble ShiftTrack also provided auditability and transparency. Previously there were some occurrences of staff not being aware of scheduling changes, and subsequently time was lost trying to track down the staff member or provide adequate cover. Then it was difficult to ascertain where the communication breakdown occurred.
Now, it's possible to see when changes were made and by whom. Staff can login to their own schedules from their PC so they can always keep track of their expected shifts. Members of staff have also been afforded the flexibility to change their own schedules. "They feel empowered because they have visibility on what their team is doing - and it's easier to swap shifts as they know what their colleagues are doing as well," said Ashton. "It also brings visibility to the team leaders. If a team leader is off sick, whoever is covering for him or her can immediately see the schedules in place and doesn't need any access to email."
The system has also given the insight to allow the council to make more educated decisions. For example there was a belief that Monday was the busiest day and now the Council is able to confirm and quantify this and understand specifically that 10am on Mondays is busiest. The Council can now ensure there is proper coverage at this time, and set a policy that no breaks are to be taken during this period.
"The insight also allows us to more intelligently recruit new staff members," said Ashton. "For example we can be much more specific in terms of our requirements - such as on what days and times we need to improve coverage." Overall Noble ShiftTrack has offered numerous benefits to Medway Council that are already making a significant improvement: empowering staff, increasing efficiency and improving resident care. It's something the Council wishes to continue to improve upon, and they are planning to utilize many of the system's other features.
"We're only using around about 25% of the system's features and we have already made significant efficiencies," said Ashton. "We plan to really dig deep into the features and IPFX data to gain greater insight into performance levels and to plan future call centre capacity. We will be better at adapting to changing demands because we will understand our capabilities and how to scale them."
Noble ShiftTrack will also help ensure that the staff with the right skills requirements are working at the right times - whether that's answering specific calls or dealing with enquiries from residents visiting the contact centre."We continue to work with Redcentric because it understands Medway Council's requirements and never fails to deliver," concluded Bragg. "It doesn't just sell systems - it understands our goals and has the expertise to ensure whatever it delivers meets and exceeds those goals."
Industry / Sector
- Staff utilised more efficiently, improving the service to residents
- Administration significantly reduced
- Greater audibility and transparency for staff members and management