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Managing the move to paperless communication

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Our customers have been asking us for years to move to paperless communications following submissions. With old systems and processes with long delivery timescales for change and underlying poor data quality, this was not a simple task.

As part of our wider digital transformation, we had moved from two technology releases a year to two a month, and decided that we’d fix this service as part of that process. While the technical and process changes had their challenges, engaging with our customers and fixing the underlying data were also key.

What we needed to make the change, was a generic contact email address for each of our customers – a small request but one that we recognised could mean an internal process change for our customers. We needed one contact address for each organisation, which is not how our customers have grown accustomed to working with us. Over the years, we’ve gathered multiple contacts for each of our customers, which presents its own challenges in terms of data integrity.

For our customers, it meant setting up a generic mailbox that several people could access. For us, it means we can send communications to an organisation rather than an individual.

So we’re not talking dramatic change here, but we still wanted to get this small digitisation project right, and give our customers something before the wider redesign of services took place.

We started by consulting trade organisations. We wanted them to assess and endorse the change. We gave them a pack for cascading the information we’d shared with them, so they could pass the word onto any of our customers they had contact with.

We briefed internal staff, so they knew what we were planning and could answer any questions from customers, and then sent letters to all our customers, telling them about the change and asking if they could provide an email address.

Ironically getting to successful completion meant sending a lot of letters, but hopefully for the last time.

It was a repetitive process and there was nothing flashy about it, but it got the results we needed, quickly. We’ve got all the contact details we needed and have successfully dispensed with paper-based communication for this agency service; reduced the cost to industry and the agency; and reduced the risk of data loss.

The agency has an ambitious programme of change, which will revolutionise the way customers interact with us, so it has been useful to use this small change as a test of our engagement approach, and get our data in a better shape.

We’ll talk more about our other changes in future blogs, so don’t forget to sign up for alerts.

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