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November 2020
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Cutting costs by keeping in contact

With the pressure to do more for less being felt in every corner of the public sector, senior executives could not be blamed for feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Delivering service improvements while simultaneously finding cost savings is no easy task, but a new generation of web-based technology is enabling thinly-stretched teams to marry objectives that once seemed irreconcilable.

A leading example is MATS© a process tracking platform that brings together workflow, communications and reporting tools into one simple package.

It allows staff to log the steps taken to resolve a particular case, whether it is an application, enquiry or complaint. The platform can be made visible to anyone within the organisation who needs access, therefore encouraging smoother progress and improved communication between departments.

At the same time, the system addresses the common problem of keeping the public informed of what is happening with their particular case. Large volumes of incoming chaser calls are a major drain on resources a 2011 report from ContactBabel calculated the average cost of handling an inbound call to be an astonishing £4.08. In addition to financial considerations, the frustration that arises from chaser calls, both for the caller and the call handler, can have a big impact on perceptions of the organisation. Also long-term consequences for employees can range from low morale and little or no job satisfaction leading to absences and high staff turnover.

However, a considerable majority of these calls are avoidable. In other words, public sector organisations can negate the need for such calls by keeping people informed of progress more proactively. The same workflow system described above is capable of generating automated updates to members of the public either via SMS text message, email or personalised web page when key stages of a particular process have been reached.

This is an important reassurance, providing people with useful information when and where they need it and dramatically reduces chaser calls.

The marriage of these two functions ‘ workflow and communication’ has the potential to deliver significant efficiency savings.

What’s more, as different teams and departments within the public sector come under increasing pressure to justify their roles, the availability of metrics is vital as proof of value. With MATS© for example, the system generates real-time management reports to help senior executives assess performance levels and identify problems quickly.

The mention of technology is often greeted with a sigh by public sector executives who have far too much experience of costly and complicated projects that inevitably require a lengthy period of installation and then don’t meet the specific needs they would wish for.

The latest web-based technology overcomes historic fears with fast, simple and inexpensive deployment. In addition, the fluid nature of such solutions makes them entirely mouldable to a virtually unlimited array of specific activities, and allows them to fit seamlessly around existing IT infrastructure and hardware.

MATS® has been successfully implemented by public sector organisations including Peterborough City Council, which was subsequently named one of the UK’s top six local authorities, as measured by the efficiency of its customer service operation.

What began as an initiative to help the council meet NI14 the national performance indicator that obliged almost 400 local authorities in the UK to reduce ‘avoidable contact’ with the community’ became an integral strategy in improving the wider efficiency of the organisation.

The introduction at Peterborough City Council of a specially-tailored MATS® system enabled the council to build up a broad picture of its call traffic. This helped define the source, scale and scope of contact from customers and how it could be addressed in ways that would reduce strain on customer service staff. With the use of automated responses in the form of SMS or email, for example customers were kept up-to-date with the progress of their case eliminating the need to make a call for information.

Mark Sandhu, Head of Customer Services at Peterborough City Council, said: What started as an NI14 proposition has become a strong aid to the council’s efficiency strategy it gives us information for meaningful conversations with back offices. MATS® is very much part of our future thinking to maintain and develop our preeminent position as a leading edge, efficiency focused council.

For further information, visit or call 01234 321555.

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