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How do you manage all the needs of a population in one building? This was the challenge facing Northampton Borough Council who has to support a large community from their single service centre in their Borough Council offices.

Understandably, many people would come into the office at a time – resulting in high daily footfall. However, because of their customers’ varied and diverse needs and the limited resources available to service them, the Council wasn’t always able to get their needs met quickly or efficiently. This resulted in high wait times, which could, at times, create a bad customer experience.

With a high demand on staff it was hard to deliver the optimum level of service hoped for. As a result, a large queue of customers would build up in the waiting area, which further added to the pressure on staff serving customers. The council also operated a 'needs-based-routing' system, which meant that on some occasions customers would even wait for a long period of time and then not receive the service, or services, they hoped for.

As in many local governments, on certain days of the week or month, customer traffic would spike. With too much demand and not enough supply, this resulted in an even more negative customer experience.

These business and customer experience challenges needed to be addressed, so Northampton Borough Council decided to put a system in place that could help them control and manage their customer flow.

Solution Overview

ACF worked with Northampton Borough Council customer service centre management team to design and implement a Customer Flow and Queue Management solution.

Using the latest Q-Flow technology, they were able to achieve the following key goals:

  • Enable customers to join the right queue for the service they need, the first time

  • Direct customers to the right staff to can serve their needs 

  • Set expectations and update the customer on their wait time

  • Empower staff to route customers between services with ease.

Key Features

ACF helped the council resolve their queuing challenges by combining people, processes and technology. ACF’s deep understanding of queue management meant they could point the Council towards the right tools to help their teams do the job, install the correct hardware – including kiosks, tickets, and signage – and ensure that all team members could make best use of this technology to manage queues more efficiently.

Welcome kiosks & printed tickets

Putting kiosks at several entrances across the service centre allowed the council to meet and greet all walk-in customers, identify their needs, and help them join a queue for the relevant service for them. By giving the customer a unique printed ticket with their estimated wait time, they were able to set realistic expectations.

Digital signage screens

Adding ACF’s digital signage further helped the council manage their customers’ expectations. While the customer is waiting, they are now able to track their progress by looking up their unique ticket number on the multiple digital signage screens located around the service centre. The screen designs, which are fully aligned to the Northampton Borough Council’s branding, can also share helpful or interesting information about other products, services, and council news to waiting customers.

Customer Service user interface

Technology is useless if it isn’t used effectively which is why ACF has given the customer service staff access and training on how to use the Q-Flow web-based user interface. This simple-to-use, yet functionality rich tool helps staff do things like:

  • See an overview as well as individual details about all waiting customers and the services they came in for.

  • View waiting times for each customer – live!

  • Know when and if it’s necessary to take action in order to improve the experience, and be able to prioritise action for customers that have been waiting a long time.

  • Be able to call customers forward with a single click, because the system automatically prioritises the order of waiting customers. 

Customer Service user interface

Thanks to Q-flow by ACF service centre managers are now able to:

  • See information about all waiting customers in all queues, in real-time

  • Take immediate actions to move custo­mers between queues or open new queues

  • See the current expected wait time for each customer

  • View a series of past, present and future predictive reports.

Local hosting

The solution is hosted locally on the Northampton Borough Council's servers and network, which meant it was quick to install and is controlled within their local environment.

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Northampton Borough Council is the borough council and non- metropolitan district responsible for local government in the large town of Northampton in England. Offering a range of public services, the Northampton Borough Council team supports a population of over 200,000 residents from its one-stop-shop based in the iconic Guildhall Building in Northampton town centre.

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The Results:

  • Realistic customer expectations are set early on.

  • Customers can see their waiting time process, which reduces frustrations.

  • Average wait time for customers has been reduced.

  • An increased number of customers are able to be served each day.

  • Increased overall customer satisfaction.

  • The management team is able to gain valuable insights using their reporting capabilities.

  • The unified case management system also allows them to track and route customers easily.

  • Staff engagement and performance has also increased across the service centre

  • See an overview as well as individual details about all waiting customers and the services they came in for.

  • View waiting times for each customer – live!

  • Know when and if it’s necessary to take action in order to improve the experience, and be able to prioritise action for customers that have been waiting a long time.

  • Be able to call customers forward with a single click, because the system automatically prioritises the order of waiting customers.