Exemplar Award Winner- Best Practice National Gazetteers Technology Award 2011: Northumberland County Council
When the Pest Control department at Northumberland County Council decided it needed to modernise its email and paper based workflow to improve efficiency and save money, it started to look around for an off the shelf system solution.
Under the old arrangements, a customer would call the council to make a request. Contact centre staff would then send an email to pest control where the request was logged on paper. Pest control staff would then call the customer and make an appointment using paper based diaries. All subsequent communication would be carried out by telephone and on paper.
Since the council’s existing call centre CRM system could handle the workflow and processes involved in customer follow-up, it appeared that there was the basis for a new system already in place. As a result the council decided to build its own solution in-house.
The result is a simple web application which can be accessed in the call centre in the back office and by pest control officers working in the field using tablet computers, communicating over mobile networks. A pest control call will be logged in the call centre, complete with the type of pest, customer type, i.e. residential or business, and the price for the service communicated. Payment for the service can be taken at the same time the call is logged. Since the CRM uses the LLPG as its source of addresses, it can benefit from some of the simple, automated geo-processing set up specifically for the pest control service.
Once the caller’s address has been entered, the system uses the LLPG’s precise geographical location to automatically allocate the call to the appropriate pest control officer. This also triggers the relevant area diary to be displayed so call centre staff can proceed with booking an appointment. Automated email notifications are then sent to both back office staff and area pest control officers. At any time staff can query status and information on any specific case. By extending access to pest control officers operating in the field, the system can be updated in real time providing further efficiencies. Field workers also benefit from the system’s wide route optimisation.
Case visits or re-visits can be rearranged at any time. The system also automatically raises business invoices on case completion if the call request has come from a commercial property. The system’s admin facility enables full view and management of area diaries, access to email notifications, viewing of specific case information and checking to see if payment has been made. System data can be accessed for selective reporting, by area, by type and by date, for viewing on a map, to investigate the spread of infestation, for example.
Northumberland’s Pest Control system provides an end-to-end solution from original call, appointment booking, right through to job completion and invoicing. Since the system is underpinned by LLPG integration, Call Centre staff don’t need any local knowledge to deal with pest control requests and only deal with location specific diaries when booking appointments.
Pest control officers in the field are free from paperwork and have shorter distances to travel, thanks to route optimisation and electronic delivery of cases to their tablet computers. There is no longer a need to visit council offices to pick up work.
The pest control workflow is now seamless, delivering a better service to customers, and significant process efficiencies. Negotiations are underway with several other local authorities who are interested in using a hosted and managed version of the service that will generate revenue for the council
• system developed at minimal cost using internal resources
• call centre staff can deal with the process from start to finish
• field based pest control officers’ devices are updated remotely so they can travel straight to their first job and subsequently update the system in real time
• pest control officer routes can be optimised by area to cut distance and travel time
• customers benefit from a single phone call during which an appointment can be made and payment taken
• NCC is in negotiations with several other councils to deliver a hosted version of the service on their behalf to generate revenue.
View from the authority
“Using the LLPG it has been possible to substantially improve our waste and recycling vehicle routes, which delivers a big saving in fuel straight away. Further synchronisation and systems integration with the LLPG means we have seen a huge rise in garden waste service take-up whilst achieving significant internal efficiencies and savings. Reducing the amount of garden waste going into landfill further sharpens our green credentials.”
-Ryan Gilchrist LLPG Manager, Northumberland County Council