Customers and staff provide a valuable insight into our digital journey

I had the pleasure of spending time with our customer experience team on the frontline at Marischal College and the Regional Contact Centre at Frederick Street last week.

My thanks go to everyone who made Andrew Howe and I so welcome, with staff and customers taking time to provide a valuable insight into the journey we’re on as an organisation.

Andrew, in his role as Chief Officer for Digital and Technology, is working with his team to drive positive change in the way we deliver services and support residents and businesses.

Every week more online options are going live, with the digital school admissions system benefiting thousands of parents and carers when it was launched last month and many more processes now being available through our website.

What we saw during the time we spent with staff and customers was the human side that has to stay at the forefront of our thinking. We’ve all got a big part to play as individuals in supporting the channel shift from traditional to digital.

Some customers simply need a gentle steer in the right direction when it comes to the online options and are enthusiastic about the ease with which they can now interact with the Council and carry out the tasks that are important to them.

We saw several people who had visited or phoned to access services already digitised – unaware they could now do that from the comfort of their own home at any time of day or night, which would have brought real advantages to them and also reduced demand on our staff. The positive thing is they’ll be aware next time and that knowledge is growing across our customer base.

Equally there are customers who may not have the same access or confidence to self-serve in this way and there is work for us to do as a Council to ensure the support is in place to maintain and enhance equality in every aspect of our service to customers. We need to be taking people with us on the journey.

The phrase ‘people first’ is crucial as our digital work gathers pace – we exist to serve the people of Aberdeen and technology will help us to do that, but certainly not at the expense of core values in customer service. Efficiency will give staff more time to devote to those who most need our support.

Thanks again to all those who extended such a warm welcome and I’m looking forward to further opportunities to see at first-hand the way in which our transformation is being embraced across the organisation.