Faced with previously unthinkable cuts and severe budgetary limitations, local authorities are searching for savings wherever they can find them. Despite these financial challenges, they are still expected to provide high-quality public services. This is particularly true of departments such as Adult Social Care, which work with vulnerable individuals who often require considerable care and assistance. While this may seem an impossible task (in many ways, it is - there is no getting around the fact that cuts will harm council services), local authorities must look to technology for assistance. More specifically, self-serve technology. With this in mind, we will use this article to explore five distinct ways councils can implement self-serve tools in Adult Social Care.Reducing costs and improving care At Inform, we believe self-serve technology must improve services to justify investment. It cannot be implemented solely as a cost-cutting measure. While self-serve tools like Intelligent IVR and Chatbots do generate savings, they boost local authorities’ ability to deliver services in three main ways: https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/self-serve-as-a-solution-for-adult-social-care-departments-1.jpg \tThey reduce waiting times and ensure easier access to local authority services and communication channels. \tThey automate routine, high-volume enquiries, enabling agents to focus on more complex and nuanced tasks. This allows agents to spend more time providing high-quality responses to demanding enquiries. \tThey provide a wealth of data that councils can utilise to refine services and optimise performance. Knowing how service users behave and what they require is the first step to creating a more efficient Adult Social Care service. This double-sided benefit is central to self-serve success. All self-serve technology must achieve two things - reduced costs and improvements in service delivery. One without the other is not enough. Having established that self-serve technology’s purpose is two-fold, let’s move on and look at five practical self-serve applications in Adult Social Care. 1. Navigational Chatbots ensure easy access Local Authority Adult Social Care departments interact with people with diverse and complex needs. Their remit is broad and multi-faceted, covering multiple service areas that require specialist knowledge, tools and technologies. This can make the departments’ digital resources difficult to navigate, find and utilise. Navigational Chatbots have proven themselves powerful self-serve tools for local authorities dealing with this type of problem. When service users cannot find the answers, documents or resources they are looking for, they quickly resort to more traditional means of communication. Most notably, the telephone. In doing so, they put contact centre telephony systems under pressure, occupy agent time with relatively simple enquiries and push up costs. Navigational Chatbots prevent this by providing service users with navigational assistance as soon as they land on the local authority’s site. Cost-effective and easy to maintain, they generate significant savings by ensuring service users benefit from better access to self-serve resources. 2. 24/7 contact for those in needAdult Social Care departments often encompass services that work to help people in immediate and desperate need. Similarly, many Adult Social Care teams coordinate with and direct individuals to local NHS services, such as the Community Mental Health Team and Crisis Resolution teams. In these cases, 24/7 access to customer service channels is of immense value.https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/self-serve-as-a-solution-for-adult-social-care-departments-2.jpgSelf-serve technologies provide local authorities with always-on channels that answer questions, offer basic advice and shift service users towards other resources. This enables Adult Social Care departments to provide a minimum level of service around the clock, while also reducing call volumes during office hours.3. Automating social care assessmentsWhen interacting with the Adult Social Care department, many service users complete an assessment to determine the level of support they require. For instance, this occurs when individuals seek assistance with care costs, accommodation or mobility equipment. While you can carry out these assessments over the phone or in person, it is both expensive and time-consuming. Instead, local authorities should use self-serve tools like Chatbots or online forms to automate the process. This relieves pressure on contact centre staff and ensures service users can complete the assessment at their convenience. Automated responses and data collection also streamline workflows.4. Reporting suspected abuseSafeguarding is one of many Adult Social Care department’s key responsibilities. Concerns about abuse, neglect or mistreatment must be taken very seriously. Local authorities should have effective reporting mechanisms in place to ensure all reports are processed appropriately.https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/self-serve-as-a-solution-for-adult-social-care-departments-3.jpgWhile emergency issues are typically directed to the police, most Adult Social Care departments deal with less-urgent concerns. Self-serve forms and Chatbots are an excellent way to automate reporting and provide a degree of anonymity that can encourage people to come forward and express their concerns more readily.5. Mobile web integration for enquiry forms Online forms are already used extensively across Adult Social Care websites. While they do not benefit from the same degree of interactivity, flexibility or adaptability as Chatbots, they are useful automation tools. However, online forms have one crucial weakness in the customer service environment. All too often, they are tricky to access and find. Phone-to-mobile web integration can boost self-serve uptake and ensure maximal use of time and money-saving resources by enabling easy linking to mobile devices. For example, when a user calls the Adult Social Care department out-of-hours, they reach the service’s Intelligent IVR solution. Having moved through the menu tree, the system identifies the purpose of their enquiry and sends the URL for their required resource direct to the caller’s mobile phone. By encouraging channel shift, this powerful tool reduces call volumes, facilitates increased customer self-service and ensures service users can find the right resources whenever they require them. What Next? Over the coming years, self-serve technology will play a critical role in delivering local authority services. Understandably, many councils are concerned about the future and how they can afford to invest in the technology required to improve services. That is one of the reasons we used this article to predominantly focus on affordable and easy-to-implement self-serve solutions that guarantee significant savings. Early in the digital transformation process, self-service technologies that emphasise and encourage channel shift are excellent investments. While they reduce costs and improve the customer experience, they also help your team demonstrate that automation technology is the future and can begin to mitigate the effects of cuts to local government budgets. Essentially, they provide you with a strong use case for further investment in technology that will dramatically improve your ability to deliver services. At a time when local authorities need to maximise the benefits of digital transformation, this evidence could prove invaluable.Our expert team have been providing customer self-service solutions for over 30 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line to find out more.