The Merseyside metropolitan borough of Sefton has deployed 8x8’s integrated cloud communications platform to construct a remote contact centre deployment that aims to transform citizen service in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Sefton Council is the governing body for the metropolitan borough, which covers the diverse coastal region of North Merseyside stretching from the urban north Liverpool districts of Bootle, Litherland, Seaforth and Netherton to the south; the Aintree racecourse, home of the Grand National; sub-urban Maghull and Crosby, the latter home to Antony Gormley’s Another Place art work; countryside surrounding the town of Formby with farms and a nature reserve; and the northern coastal resort of Southport with its many golf courses and the Martin Mere bird sanctuary.
The council employs more than 3,000 staff and provides essential services to 275,000 citizens across the borough. Aiming to enhance future citizen services, the local authority was planning to replace its ageing contact centre technology at the beginning of 2020. However, with the sudden government directive for vulnerable people to shelter in March, the council had to act swiftly to maintain vital services as agents were no longer able to work safely from the fixed contact centre.
Following advice from its ICT and helpdesk partner Agilisys, Sefton Council selected the 8x8 Contact Centre from the Crown Commercial Service’s G-Cloud procurement framework. Its capabilities enabled agents to connect across voice, video and chat, and to effectively support secure credit card processing.
Working to extremely tight timescales, 8x8 enabled 40 contact centre agents to work remotely in just 10 days – a process that is said to typically take three months in the public sector.
A few weeks after the initial deployment, the council rolled out several advanced platform features, such as skills-based routing, speech analytics and post-call survey. This enabled complete visibility and tracking of the customer experience and quick first contact resolution. Also, remote agents will be able to take secure card payments from citizens in the coming weeks, using the Payment Card Industry-compliant 8x8 Secure Pay functionality.
“I remember arriving at 7am to an email that said we needed to create a virtual contact centre immediately,” said James Aldred, procurement manager at Sefton Council. “Within hours, the project team found the right solution and got a deal together which fully met our commercial and service requirements.”
Mark Quillan, customer service manager at the council, added: “8x8 did all they could to make this a positive experience for us and we achieved our objectives exceptionally quickly. Implementing a cloud contact centre solution would typically take three months in the public sector arena. Instead, it took just 10 days.”
The Sefton deployment comes hot on the heels of 8x8’s technology being implemented by Manchester City Council. Spurred by a similar need to support remote working after the Covid-19 lockdown order, and in addition to implementing a new cloud-based communications system in line with its wider cloud-based ICT strategy, the council implemented the 8x8 Contact Centre technology to keep vital services running remotely for its more than half a million residents during the lockdown.
Read more about remote working in local government
- Digital, and in particular a focus on digital skills, will be extremely important for the UK as it aims to recover from the pandemic, according to a parliamentary group.
- The boroughs working in local government coalition LOTI are focusing on joining up and acting on data-driven insights to help communities through the coronavirus crisis and beyond.
- Councils get funding to build on Covid-19 digital progress to ensure continued modernisation in public services delivery.