Brent Council, United Kingdom
Lotus Domino lets Brent Council improve service for residents
Answer 80% of residents' queries to the Council on the spot
Create a 'One–Stop Shop' giving residents a single point of contact to query Council information systems.
Lotus Domino: Benefits to Brent Council
- Helps Council's One–Stop Shop instantly answer 80% of 250,000 resident queries each year
- Ensures more complex queries are followed up – not lost or forgotten
- Makes information about community groups, services and activities within neighborhood available via Internet
- Improves information sharing between staff and consultants working on a sensitive Council projects using secure Domino 'extranet'
- Reduces effort to maintain Council information flow – Brent now has a single, integrated environment for publishing Internet, intranet and Business Partner information
- Brent Council in northwest London was committed to providing first-class customer service to its residents. It had established six 'One–Stop Shops' across the borough to handle residents queries. Intended to cut through bureaucracy, the Shops give residents a single point of contact for requests, information and complaints across the entire range of Council services.
The Shops were targeted to answer 80% of residents queries on the spot. However, as they became more popular, their paper–based customer tracking system became overloaded. A new system was needed to ensure that a query started with one Shop could be followed up by any other – and that a complicated request that couldn't be answered on the spot would still be actioned and completed within a reasonable timeframe.
The council solved its customer tracking problem with Lotus Domino. The One–Stop Shops now use a Domino-based program named Laser to track all resident requests across the six Shops, regardless of where a query first originated. Responses that are due or overdue are now automatically flagged.
And using Domino's networking and database capabilities, this system also offers Customer Service Officers direct access to local and remote Council systems such as the Council's Domino intranet and Web-site databases.
Anticipating the drive toward 'joined-up government', the Council knew that answering 80% of queries instantly would require access to the Council's ten most relevant systems. 90% of queries involve housing benefit and rents, with Council tax and planning application data also in demand.
"Domino provides the environment that manages our One–Stop Shops," explains Dane Wright, Brent's Information Manager for Corporate IT. "With Domino in place, we receive far fewer complaints about Brent's responsiveness."
With the Shops and the Domino Laser customer-tracking system in place, Brent's Labour administration is now working toward '24-hour Council'. The Council's plan is that outside office hours, resident inquiries will be routed to a call centre. This will be able to access the Domino system to check Council data and information, as well as track queries already in progress.
"In fact, Brent now uses Domino for a number of 24-hour applications," explains Wright. "As our central communications infrastructure, Domino has also let Brent offer a community noticeboard on the Web and share information with external suppliers."
Forming an interactive channel between the Council and voluntary groups, a Domino-based Web site known as BRAIN now offers a comprehensive range of information about local groups to any resident with access to the Internet. BRAIN can be searched by subject or, by inputting their postcode, residents can see which groups and activities are available in their immediate locality.
"It would have been difficult to offer the full range of BRAIN's facilities online without Domino," says Wright. "We had tried to set up community information systems several times before but failed because our alternative systems weren't up to scratch."
"An important benefit of Domino is its security. It lets authorized community groups update their own information via the Internet - without compromising security of their own pages, or of BRAIN as a whole. BRAIN also helps the Council. Brent has posted on it a discussion forum about its annual budget which allowed the public to send back observations through the system."
Domino was also the solution when the Council needed to set up secure communications and databases for sharing with key external suppliers. Using a Domino 'extranet', all organizations involved with a major internal software upgrade project have been given full access to data and communication systems. Work on the project is totally paperless and completely secure.
"Staff and consultants, wherever they are, can enter a 'restricted access' area by providing a password. They then enter the extranet and can monitor or contribute to the development of the project. Plans, minutes of meetings and all other documentation relating to the project is stored, accessed and developed through this means."
"Domino has provided a single infrastructure to manage Brent's internal, external and Internet communication needs," says Wright.
"Using a single system has given us significant cost savings right now. And Domino gives us an infrastructure which will make it simple and low-cost to add new services in the future – as we 'join-up' Brent and its residents even further."
Sidebar: About Riva Consulting and EBusiness Plus (EBP)
Brent has worked with two Lotus Business Partners to create and support its Notes applications, EBP (development and support of the One–Stop Shop Laser system) and Riva Consulting (development and support for BRAIN and intranet).
EBusiness Plus (EBP) specializes in secure intranet and Internet work for government and works closely with the CCTA. The company develops and supports Laser, the system underlying Brent's One–Stop Shops. www.lotus.com/government