An Obsessive Focus on the End-to-End Customer Journey, Leads to Success at Council

Agile approach and customer experience (CX) mapping tool central to establishing new ways of working for redesigned Business Units at Buckinghamshire County Council.

As part of its ‘Future Shape’ business model, Buckinghamshire County Council wanted to create more commercially empowered business units that were both entrepreneurial and innovative, with a laser focus on the end- to-end customer experience.

Establishing the new model had a critical dependency on using a ‘digital by design’ approach, whereby business units were challenged to transform and digitise their services, in order to drive service improvements, efficiency savings and generate revenue. The deployment of digital tools would be based around insight delivered through a deep dive into key customer journeys within each business unit.

To deliver this insight Buckinghamshire County Council required specialist support. North Highland was asked to work with the council using its unique customer experience (CX) mapping tool, which has been used to great success in the private sector with major retailers and telecoms companies, to review existing and design new customer experiences.

To quickly deliver value to the council, North Highland proposed an innovative, agile approach to project delivery that saw weekly sprints focus on either ‘Discovery’ or ‘Blueprint’ activities. As part of North Highland’s way of working (growing client capability rather than consulting dependency), North Highland requested that dedicated Buckinghamshire County Council staff formed part of the scrum team and took an active part in building the scrum backlog, daily stand-ups, retrospectives and also in planning and refinement sessions.

Sprint case studies

Like many other authorities, Buckinghamshire struggles to recruit and retain sufficient experienced children’s social workers. The first sprint, therefore, focused on understanding key challenges in the recruitment and on-boarding process. Using the CX tool enabled the joint team to rapidly highlight the complexities of the internal hiring manager’s customer journey, which contained over 80 touch points, and identified the existence of many non-value-adding handoffs between the recruitment team and the hiring manager. Within two weeks of the feedback workshop with key stakeholders, an agile project was established to use the sprint insight to redesign and streamline the hiring manager customer journey. This approach immediately started delivering an improved service to the business.

In Children’s Services, there was also a desire to see what capacity improvements could be made through the adoption of digital tools. For this Blueprint Sprint, the Scrum team work- shadowed frontline staff and used the CX tool to map ‘a day in the life of a social worker’ to determine where efficiencies could be generated in the various stages before, during after a case visit. The results from this one-week sprint identified variations in confidence around the adoption of digital tools among social workers. This was brought to life by conceptual customer stories and identified the key change management aspects that would be required to deliver the full value from the technology investments. This analysis provided invaluable insights for the council teams, who built North Highland recommendations into their current plans, adjusting and enriching digital decisions with new insights.

Within the business unit responsible for shared services (Buckinghamshire Business Services Plus), the council was striving to improve the customer experience provided to schools customers through a third party service provider. Using the CX tool the scrum team initially focused on customer journeys in school property maintenance services, performing customer interviews and auditing the quality and cost of interactions. In under a week, this sprint identified significant cost savings, with a strong focus on reducing avoidable callouts. A second key area of work involved identifying opportunities for self-serve to provide a ‘best in class’ experience, drive efficiencies and increase revenue. Here, internal customer journeys were mapped and analysed for employees seeking help from ICT, finance and HR service desks. The opportunity for a 50% reduction in customer effort was identified through redesigning the future experience to reduce the number of touch-points across these journeys, enabling increased productivity and improving the end to end journey.

Conclusion

The benefits of using the CX mapping tool within an agile approach were two- fold. First, the dedicated Buckinghamshire County Council staff were able to quickly guide the work of the blended team to tackle key areas of concern, and help collaborate with people within the senior leadership team and key stakeholders within each business unit. Second, the dedicated staff were able to use the key customer journey design principles provided by the tool, to lead on delivering the solution, picking up and running with the findings immediately, without losing momentum. While the ask varied in each business unit, each sprint rapidly delivered key customer insight and innovation in service redesign and identified increased revenue opportunities and efficiency savings.

Buckinghamshire County Council has challenged traditional public sector project delivery by embracing this agile approach with an innovative CX tool to focus on the real needs of the customer when transforming services. The work was described by one dedicated council scrum member as, “intense, pacey and fun”.

The council working with North Highland has established new ways of working, focusing on customer-centred design and treating both internal employees and external customers as recipients of ‘experiences’. Operating in a sector with constrained budgets, obsessing about the customer and agile working is a proven recipe for success.

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