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Swindon Council plans to go ‘digital first’


Swindon Borough Council is aiming to go ‘digital first’, with a new Customer Access Strategy aimed at taking 85% of transactions online by 2020.

The strategy is due to go before its cabinet next week following a consultation on its draft form, and Leader of the Council David Renard has already flagged it up in the local press.

One of its main principles is that services will be ‘digital by design’ where possible, making greater use of electronic and social media to report service issues and communicate with residents. The council is in the middle of a programme of service redesign – set to run until March 2020 – and as each new service goes live it will review the customer service approach to ensure it is maximising online channels and new technologies.

As online services become more established and familiar to customers the council will consider whether any can become online only.

This will be accompanied by an effort to increase access to online services, although there will be support for people who cannot use the internet.

The council has estimated that about 20% of its population are digitally excluded and is making ‘assisted digital’ a fundamental part of its strategy, with plans for staff members to become digital champions who can support residents.

Other details include the provision of technologies such as webchat and automated telephony, and ensuring the services work with devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Details in future

The draft says a more detailed plan will be drawn up to address the needs of different groups after the strategy is adopted.

Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser, Renard said: “Our draft strategy focuses on two important things: a plan to ensure that 85% of customer transactions are completed online by 2020 and that serious consideration is given to making sure that people who are not plugged in to the digital universe are not left behind.

“A public consultation on this draft strategy took place over seven weeks this summer, and the results are highly encouraging.”

He added that the survey showed about 80% of respondents were confident in accessing services online and 69% preferred to use the internet in accessing the council.

Image: Swindon Civic Offices by Roger Cornfoot, CC BY-SA 2.0

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