One year ago we redesigned the Fred Perry House reception area. The old fashioned reception desk and ticket queuing system were replaced by a fresh new look including a self-service check-in and contemporary waiting area.

A suite of 16 new customer computers and tablets were introduced for customers to access Council services. Free Wi-Fi and charging points were also provided for residents to access Council services from their own devices.

The redesign went hand in hand with improvements being made to our website and was the first public-facing example of the Digital by Design programme’s objective of encouraging customers to self-serve information, advice and guidance where possible.

In addition we trained our staff to help residents use the new tablets and touch screen computers and with the basics of getting online, setting up an email account and using the Council website.

What do customers think about the Fred Perry reception area?

Visitors to the Council’s offices have been impressed by the efficiency and professional appearance of the new self-serve check-in desks. There are no more queues at reception and council staff are informed electronically as soon as their visitors arrive.

The whole reception area has now been transformed into a more welcoming space that supports and encourages people to go online. By echoing a high street digital store the refurbished reception is non-threatening and familiar to customers. People haven’t been forced to engage digitally but by creating the right environment many have chosen to do so.

“What a fantastic and modern system”

“How easy is this to use!”

“We should get this where I work.”

Check-in desk

Our staff have been retrained using ‘Restorative techniques’ so that they can support the customer’s immediate needs but also help them to build their own self-serve skills for future use. One of the best examples of this is where staff assist customers to set up an account on our ‘Better Off’ website.

Using Better Off residents can calculate what benefits they may be eligible to apply for and complete and submit their application forms online.

Many people don’t have all the information they need to hand initially but staff can get them started and customers can return to fill in further information on these forms at any point, either by accessing the website independently at home or by returning to Fred Perry House for assistance.

Better Off

How has it made a difference to council services delivery?

Since we started our Digital by Design programme, we have seen a steady increase in the proportion of people contacting the council by digital means. Around 60% of contacts with the council are now digital contacts.

By enabling those who are able to self-serve waiting times for a home visit for vulnerable residents have reduced from 10 weeks to 4 weeks and waiting times for an office appointment have fallen to between 1 and 2 weeks.

The bold transformation of the way our customers interact with us has already saved the council money and improved services in the short term but more importantly has created a framework and approach for future benefits and efficiencies.

I-network award

In November we won the iNetwork Innovation Award for Innovative Access to Public Services. Judges unanimously decided that the redesign of Fred Perry House reception and the introduction of the Better Off Stockport website were worthy of winning the category.

The video submission for the iNetwork Innovation Award can be seen here.