Across the many boroughs of London, citizens must interact regularly with their local councils to pay taxes, request assistance, and report problems. However, in the London Borough of Ealing, these processes were often still being carried out offline—with pen and paper—which was very time-consuming and manual for both the customer and the Council. If a citizen wanted to file for a tax exemption, for example, they would need to fill out a paper form, submit it to the Council, and then wait a few weeks for it to reach the right team and be processed. If more information was required, which is often the case, the team would have to reach back out to the citizen via offline channels, such as a phone call or mail, before eventually delivering the final resolution via mail. The average wait time for a request like this was about 25 days.
These processes were often slow and frustrating for citizens, and they were expensive for the Council to maintain. The Council had to juggle disparate line-of-business applications, customer care staff, scanning and post teams, and local kiosks. The offline and siloed legacy systems caused redundancies and data errors, made it challenging to detect fraud, and prevented the Council from getting a single, 360-degree view of their citizens. The Council knew there had to be a better way.
To reimagine their customer engagement processes, Ealing Council reached out to Microland, a long-standing Microsoft partner with over 25 years of experience implementing Microsoft technology. Microland has attained several gold competencies in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program that include Cloud Productivity, Cloud Platform, and Collaboration and Content. The Council began working with Microland back in 2017 to deliver a suite of services and infrastructure updates, and after working closely together for four years, the Council knew that Microland would be the right partner to help them with this new digital transformation effort.
The Council had a few clear requests for Microland on this project. They wanted to make thorough changes to their internal and external processes, implementing a solution that could ensure:
- A shift in communication channels with citizens from offline methods to e-services.
- Clear, unified data to enable debt recovery and fraud detection amongst other beneficial outcomes.
- Modernized business processes including automation where possible.
- Consolidated activities and reduced operating costs.
With these goals in mind, Microland got to work designing a solution to suit the Ealing Council’s environment.
Building a digital solution for the Ealing Council
From the outset of this project, Microland knew that their solution would use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, an industry-leading solution built on the Microsoft cloud to deliver consistent, connected support across various channels. By unifying all of the Council’s customer data onto one platform, Microland would help the Council eliminate redundancies, fix errors, identify fraud, and gain 360-degree views of citizens’ interactions with the Council. Now, when a citizen goes to apply for a tax exemption, the Council can see the citizen’s other engagements with the borough, helping them better understand their history, needs, and how to serve them.
To help with the initial design and development of the solution, Microland worked with Microsoft to guide strategic architectural decisions and solve technical challenges. Once the first set of digital Council processes were complete, Microland took end-to-end responsibility for the Council’s digital transformation and led the effort independently.
Over the years, Microland has built numerous Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service solutions for government and private sector customers. They start with templates and re-use past solutions for new clients to accelerate the process, and once they have a starting point, their team of certified Dynamics 365 architects, developers, and consultants works closely with the client to customize the solution and suit their specific business requirements. Taking this hybrid approach enables Microland to build a solution that fits the customer quickly and without having to start from scratch each time.