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Portsmouth City Council is a local authority located in port city of Portsmouth, Hampshire on the south coast of the UK. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. The council supports its 230,000+ person community with a wide range of public services from the service centre in the heart of town, directly opposite the famous Portsmouth Guildhall.

The Challenge

Being a unitary authority, supporting a densely populated community, the council service centre became very busy during peak hours creating high wait times.

With a high general footfall combined with natural peaks and troughs, the council faced raising wait times and a challenge to deliver the desired level of customer service.

Natural pressures would also build due to a lack of expectations being set with customers relative to their expected wait time, and their position in the general queue.

Finally, a general need to have multiple queues, being served by dedicated teams across the service centre would be harder to do without an automated calling system.

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The Solution

ACF worked with the Portsmouth City Council service centre management team to design and implement an advanced Queue Management solution, using the latest Q-Flow software platform, that would achieve the following key goals:

  • Enable customers to self-join a queue using the kiosks to select the service they require

  • Use printed tickets give each customer a unique queue number

  • Informing customers of their place in the queue using branded digital signage

  • Using audio to call customers forward and direct them to their service desk

  • Empower staff to have the ability to route customers between services with ease

Welcome kiosk & printed tickets

Multiple kiosks are added near the service centre entrance to capture all walk-in customers and help them join a queue. The custo­mer is provided with a printed ticket with a unique queue number e.g. 'CS 101 '. This sets the expectation and gives the customer a feeling of a personal ticket number.

The kiosk screen is dynamic and branded to the look and feel of the Council.

In addition, for the purpose of tracking all quick query interactions, a reception desk agent can simply select a reason for any quick visit from a list of options.

Digital signage screens

Whilst the customers are waiting, there are multiple digital signage screens around the service centre that allow the customers to see their progress by tracking their unique queue number.

The screen designs are fully aligned to the Council branding, and also show other information such as service and news updates.

Customer Service Team user interface

The customer service staff have been empowered with the Q-Flow web-based user interface which is simple-to-use, yet functionality rich.

Staff were upskilled on how they could perform such tasks as:

  • Viewing all waiting customers and the services they came in for

  • Classify the outcomes of each customer interaction

  • Seeing the live wait times for each customer

  • The ability to call customers forward with a single click with the system prioritizing the order automatically

  • Having the ability to take action on customers that have been waiting a long time

    The ability to call customers forward with a single click with the system prioritizing the order automatically

Management user interface

The service centre managers are able to:

  • See real time all waiting customers across all queues

  • See the current expected wait time for each customer

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

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

  • Send key communications and messages to users within the application

Local hosting

The solution is hosted locally on the Portsmouth City Council's servers making for a quick installation and simple local environment support if required.

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The Results:

  • Reduction in average wait time for customers

  • Customer expectations are set early in the experience

  • Customers visually see their progress in waiting time, leading to reduced frustrations

  • Increased overall customer satisfaction

  • Increased number of customers served per day

  • Recording of 'quick query' visits

  • Unified case management for ease of routing customers

  • Gained valuable insights using the reporting suite

  • Overall staff engagement and performance increases seen around the service centre

The advanced queue management system provided by ACF allows us to effectively manage our customers to provide the customer service excellence we committed to delivering. In addition to this, the system provides comprehensive reporting abilities to allow us to analyze our performance, identify peak contact times and efficiently plan staff resource to meet both our service commitments and business demands.”
— Nina Martin | City Helpdesk Manager