Effortless customer communications for local authorities

Effortless customer communications for local authorities
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Every facet of the public sector requires incoming and outgoing mail to be captured and processed into information systems crucial for the effective delivery of local government services.

But with local authorities inundated with mail on any given day – from council tax payments to housing benefits, sensitive cherished documents, planning applications, complaints, and much more – the importance of maintaining the integrity of data, together with the risk of regulatory breaches, not to mention ineffective practices, can all result in associated elevated costs and convoluted processes which invariably impact on the end client experience. Steve Pollard, Site Director at Paragon Customer Communications Sunderland, outlines how an Omnichannel Inbound System can enhance how documents are managed and customer data is processed.
 

Resident demographics, established processes and regulatory requirements mean local authorities still depend on physical mail to communicate with residents and businesses in their catchment area. As such, although the digital evolution is happening, with many government bodies beginning to execute digital campaigns that include the use of email and web forms together with physical mail, it certainly won’t happen overnight.

As a result, in any given local authority building, paper can often be found filed on various employees' desks, stored away in filing cabinets or even spread across multiple departments and offices. This leads to greater difficulties in tracking and recording the fundamental information within said mail, as well as a higher risk of human error. In addition, many organisations may not have the capabilities or indeed the capacity to retain and store data that will allow them to assess the level of service they are providing.

While processes have for a long time relied heavily on employees, as well as their knowledge and ability to accurately sort and categorise incoming mail in both physical and digital formats, the impact of the lockdown on local authority buildings and staff working remotely in 2020 has forced many organisations to seek suitable outsource solutions.

 

An omnichannel solution

Always at the cutting edge of agile communications technology, Paragon have been quick to identify and respond to the need for outsourcing in the sector. The ability for clients effortlessly to have their incoming mail forwarded to Paragon sites, digitised, and then returned to them has created a level of responsiveness which has ensured local authorities can continue to handle communications from people in their local area, and respond in a prompt manner.

While digital communication is growing in prominence, its uptake in the more traditional public sector space means paper-based mail remains a central aspect of local authority communications. 

Intuitive inbound mail systems, such as Paragon’s Omnichannel Inbound solution, provide seamless management of inbound mail. This can be physical or digital – in the form of web forms and email – and it enhances how data is processed. This ensures a future-proofed hybrid solution that can adapt and advance as required.

Incoming mail processed through the Integr8 Omnichannel Inbound platform utilises innovative machine learning to intelligently interpret and categorise inbound documents. Whether it’s physical or digital mail, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) technology will automatically interpret, scan and index inbound documents, ensuring they reach the most appropriate department.

Paragon regularly provides additional verification and ‘back office’ services. This involves anything from checking that forms are completed fully and accurately, confirming the originality of cherished documents, accessing clients systems to establish and update payment details, or sending emails and SMS messages to the end user to provide updates and request further details

The resultant reduction in reliance on internal staff even when there is a spike in inbound mail, as well as the enhanced efficiencies in handling, can give local authorities the control, speed and security they need while maximising their budgets. What’s more, by benefiting from reduced processing costs and intelligence-driven decision making, organisations will provide a vastly improved experience for the public.

A more sustainable future

There is pressure on the public sector to move away from paper-heavy processes and undergo a ‘digital transformation’ to become paper-light and more sustainable. And now, with the advent of working from home practices, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and digital technology, there is a real opportunity to start on this transformation journey.

Paragon provide clients with a complete range of solutions across the whole communications process, streamlining the design and delivery of marketing, transactional and regulatory communications through innovative print, mail and digital technologies. This allows clients to deliver meaningful communications while minimising their sustainability footprint.

As a recent recipient of the Ecovadis Gold Standard, Paragon reports on the CO2 emissions as far as possible across the lifecycle of their products and services. Meanwhile, enhanced reporting capabilities and Management Information can provide data on potential carbon offsetting, including detailed analysis of the emissions produced by differing market channels in both digital and printed forms. This, in turn, enables local authorities to lower the carbon foot print of their end-to-end customer communications.

 

Steve Pollard

Author:

Steve Pollard 
Site Director

 

To find out more about our intelligent Omnichannel Inbound solution, or how communication experts can help local authorities improve their customer communications