Transport for Buckinghamshire

Improving customer experience with Ringway Jacobs and FixMyStreet Pro.

When a council takes on a new highways reporting system, its success depends on buy-in from all sorts of stakeholders.

Residents and internal staff — well, that’s a given. But there’s one other important group to consider: the contractors — often external — who receive and act on the reports.

The lowdown:
At Buckinghamshire County Council, highways services are provided by Ringway Jacobs under the banner of Transport for Buckinghamshire. Street reports are passed on to their operatives, and it’s crucial that they contain the right data and that the system has the right functionality for them to get their job done effectively.

Dan Elworthy is Customer Projects Officer for Ringway Jacobs, and his entire focus is on improving customer experience — so when Buckinghamshire Council implemented FixMyStreet Pro, he had more than a little riding on its successful introduction.

Dan’s been kind enough to share the process of getting to grips with FixMyStreet Pro.

“Before we used FixMyStreet for defect reporting, we had our own map-based online reporting tool, developed by our IT department.

“When we heard that FixMyStreet was to replace this, obviously there was reluctance – as far as we were concerned, our tool worked fine. There were concerns that a new system wouldn’t fit with our current processes and systems, and would only create work operationally, with no benefit to the customer.

“I am pleased to say that four months after FixMyStreet was installed, these concerns have gone. Of course there have been, and still are teething problems, but overall the new interface looks better, and is easier to use from a customer point of view.

“The fact that all defects and updates are shown, and the ability to subscribe to updates on defects, are great improvements to our previous tool. I am a convert and it’s thumbs up from me!”

How about the all-important customers — the people who actually make reports?

“My role is to help improve customer satisfaction, and FixMyStreet certainly makes the reporting of defects as easy as it could be, so I’ve no complaints there.

“Also, we’ve recently created two bespoke transport-focused websites for our elected Members and Parish Councils, which, along with other features, link to FixMyStreet. When we rolled out these new pages, FixMyStreet proved to be the area of most interest, and was well received by all. Having our key stakeholders on board with this system can only help improve overall customer satisfaction and help educate the wider audience on the benefits of using FixMyStreet.”

“The fact that all defects and updates are shown, and the ability to subscribe to updates on defects, are great improvements to our previous tool. I am a convert and it’s thumbs up from me!”

Which features in particular are making your job easier?

“The fact that all the reports are displayed on one map page is really useful. Then, being able to see all the reports you’ve made yourself — that’s been especially appreciated by our Parish Clerks who file reports on behalf of themselves and for residents.

“We also like that users can subscribe to updates on existing reports rather than raising a new one – that reduces the number of duplicate reports.

“Overall, it’s just a much better interface for the customer to use to report and see what has been reported.”

And so to the contractor side of things. Ringway Jacobs employees are using the admin and inspector tools every working day; which features have they found useful?

“One thing that has made things easier is the ability to change the message templates that are issued to customers — these are the pre-written updates that you can use to inform the report-maker of the status of their report.

“Although we don’t change them very frequently, it does give us greater control of the messages that we are issuing to our customers, and enables us to react to any changes in timescales we need to inform customers of.

“The ability to work with mySociety’s developers to input new reporting categories and sub-categories has been a great improvement. This helps match the customer’s report direct in to our asset management system, and gets the details straight to the right team.

“None of these functions were available on our previous reporting tool, so all in all it’s a great improvement.”

And finally, we asked Dan what developments he’d like to see for FixMyStreet Pro in the future. He’s brought some joined-up thinking to the table:

“To help encourage customers to self-serve, and to reduce the number of Freedom of Information requests we have to deal with, we’re already discussing with mySociety how we can get asset and inspection history to display on the one map.

Having this information in one place would give customers full visibility of what’s being done, and what has already been completed, on the highway.”

That’d be a great step towards council transparency, as well — and of course, with FixMyStreet’s parent organisation mySociety already doing much work around FOI, it’s very much in our area of expertise.

“We like that users can subscribe to updates on existing reports rather than raising a new one – that reduces the number of duplicate reports”

As we hope that Dan’s comments demonstrate, we’re always open to working not just with our client councils, but with their wider stakeholders too. We like talking to residents, council staff and contractors, because we know that their ideas for future development will be based on their needs, and give us insights that we could never gain on our own.

If you’re from a council and you’d like to get involved in FixMyStreet Pro development, drop us a line and we’ll add you to our newsletter mailing list. That way you’ll be the first to hear when we’re planning events and new ways to gather feedback.

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