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Best Practices Series – Creating Approval Efficiencies

Best Practices Series – Creating Approval Efficiencies
From dog registrations to planning consent, the relationship most customers have with Shire councils is one of waiting. Waiting for word of approval.
As an organisation, you delivering an enormous variety of services, often with budget constraints, numerous stakeholders, and socio-economic barriers. The complexity of this system often means it’s inefficient and siloed. The waiting process for customers is drawn out as approvals are handed through
different departments and passed around the chain.
An efficient process that enables customers to get answers as soon as possible will help improve their engagement with council, increase goodwill toward the organisation, and enable you to introduce more innovative approaches to service delivery.
What an efficient approval process looks like

Customers rely on the council for a number of different reasons. They can include consent for building or renovating, maintaining roads, footpaths, and utilities, conserving and protecting the natural and built environment, and health and social care. This in addition to funding library access and acquisitions, and helping out local community groups. Many of these services represent essential needs for living or working, or running a business, or are a significant source of recreation and joy in people’s lives.

Long wait times and poor approval systems create stress and cost for your customers. When a family has purchased a plot of land and have to wait six months for planning approval before they can start building, that waiting period can impact the final budget for their home. When a community group has to wait to hear about funding, that can impact the quality of the services they provide.
People understand that these things take time. But when their waiting times are exacerbated with organisational delays and inefficiencies, this creates an adversarial mentality toward council. It can hinder your ability to innovate and to create positive change now and in the future.
Rethinking your service blueprint

So, how do you shorten the approval process and create a more efficient customer-facing experience?

For a council with complex service offerings, a service blueprint is essential. It enables you to coordinate various teams and departments and multiple customer touch points. The key idea behind a service blueprint is that it maps your customer goals and journey to your offerings. Your service blueprint should also align to your strategic goals. For example, improving efficiencies or breaking down silos.

A service blueprint has obvious benefits for your council

Some of these include:

  • Understanding the resources and processes required to provide your services, especially when taken
    hand-to-hand with process mapping.
  • Discovering weaknesses and gaps in the process. A service blueprint enables you to root out
    systemic issues with service delivery that are invisible when taking a smaller view.
  • Identifying what works. You can see where efficiencies occur and roll out similar systems across
    the organisation, or use these as jumping-off points for innovation.
 It visually maps your processes

Your service blueprint visually maps your organisation’s processes, and is created using a similar collaborative processcollaborative process to journey mapping. That process involves five key stages: Finding support, defining the goal, gathering research, mapping the blueprint, and refining and distributing (see more about this process on the Nielsen Norman Group website).

Service blueprints involve taking an inventory of customer actions. The actions are visible (or front-stage), invisible (or back-stage), support processes, and physical evidence (anything required to make actions happen, including your website and digital platforms).

When mapping, do not neglect to include your digital workflow with your field service team, and their associated platform. These are vital to your entire system of customer touchpoints, and will deepen your understanding of where inefficiencies occur.
Identify and close inefficiencies
Using the service blueprint, you can identify process inefficiencies in your customer-facing services that contribute to a lengthy approval process.
The following are examples of how you may be able to improve efficiencies:
  • Closing gaps in your service blueprint where departments aren’t sharing information.
  • Using web-based forms to speed up data-collection.
  • Deleting unnecessary process steps and bottlenecks.
  • Giving approval power to teams lower in the chain to re-allocate work.
  • Using MyFLO as your field-service management software to create a more efficient system for delivering services.

Innovation and new ways of thinking

As you create more efficiency in your approvals process, you also create room for innovation.

 One common inefficiency detected in council service blueprints is the gap in time between approval and delivery of services. For example, installation of council services, or allocation of funds to social programmes.

Councils struggling with these inefficiencies may choose to work with private contractors or social enterprise groups to speed up delivery and create a more pleasant customer experience.

Engagement with citizens enables you to prioritise needs and allocate resources. For example, as the population ages you will find services for this age group straining limited resources. By recognising and working with the elderly in your shire, you can place those resources where they are most needed and create a sense of ownership and community around services.

Potential additional revenue streams may arise from the service blueprint as new opportunities are identified.

In Summary

By applying a service blueprint across your organisation, you open up the potential to shorten wait times, reduce customer resistance, improve efficiency in your organisation, and pave the way for a more innovative council. Then, you can use systems like myFLO to help you leverage those new efficiencies, and help you work faster, smarter, and more effectively.
myFLO has experience in working with Councils like yours.
To find out how we can help you to improve your residents’ experiences of dealing with council, talk to one
of our experts today on 1300 78 46 60.
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