How North Lanarkshire Council Improves Engagement & Customer Service On Social Media
North Lanarkshire Council is Scotland’s 4th largest local authority, with a population of around 340,000 residents.
North Lanarkshire Council’s Communications team found themselves having to face rumours, allegations and even deliberate disinformation on social media – often repeated as fact without proper checks by local media.
Communicating via social media offered a cheap and efficient way for the council to ensure that accurate information was shared directly with the public.
Cuts in council marketing budgets was another significant reason the council wanted to increase its use of social media communications to inform residents, and placing less reliance on costlier printed materials.
The volume of social media activity had also been increasing at a rapid rate, with the Communications team struggling to respond to enquiries they received in a timely manner. The most common reasons for people to engage with the councils’ social media accounts are to request information about transportation, entertainment, and housing services such as waste collection. These are not direct areas of expertise for the Communications team.
When the Communications team were picking up and responding to questions, the team had two choices:
- Send the question to another individual or team within the council, get their answer, and then communicate that back to the enquirer on social media. This was often done on ad-hoc basis, adding time delays and additional costs to the process.
- Choose not to reply to the resident’s enquiry on social media resulting in a poor customer experience.
The bottleneck was becoming a real problem for North Lanarkshire. Before the harshest winter of the last 50 years, the winter of 2010, North Lanarkshire Council had never used Twitter.
Soon, as other councils had realised, social media became a very effective way to keep residents up-to-date with key information such as school closures, gritting updates and changes to council services.
Engaging directly on Twitter was not without difficulties, as the team had to take in and respond to a great volume of tweets, many of them containing criticism from frustrated citizens.
Twitter soon proved its worth for the council, taking pressure off the Customer Contact Centre, which remained busy but without frustrating call queues. North Lanarkshire’s use of Twitter provides residents with an alternative channel to stay informed and up-to-date, making people feel more positive about the council overall.
In a nutshell
“The success of the @nlcwinter Twitter account showed us the real advantages of social media engagement, and the next step was to start using social media across the entire organisation.
As more people were asking us questions on Twitter, we started to realise this was a job that had to go beyond the Comms team. When someone would ask on Twitter about the garbage collection days in a certain area, the Comms person behind @nlcpeople had to go and ask someone else.
Soon we realised it could all be streamlined if the Customer Contact team had direct access to respond on Twitter. We started looking for a solution straight away, and we found SoCrowd.
It not only solves our issues related to sharing passwords and work distribution, but offers us tools for monitoring the entire social web and a complex set of analytics that allow us to measure our performance.”
What they say
“We now have a tool that allows us to expand social media usage across the entire council. Many departments benefit from monitoring online conversations and gauge the audience’s reaction, even when they are not addressing us directly. This helps improve our services and avoid issues that might have serious consequences.”
Since implementing SoCrowd, North Lanarkshire Council has continued to deliver effective social media communications, respond to resident enquiries and keep communities informed by allowing multiple teams to access its social media accounts in a controlled way.
- Enabled multiple council departments to engage with residents on social media, communicating about the latest news and updates.
- Allowed the Customer Contact Centre team to respond directly to enquiries and complaints received on Twitter, providing a better customer experience for residents.
- Adopted a ‘joined up’ approach to social media between the Communications team and the Customer Contact Centre to remove the social media bottleneck that existed previously.
- Removed the need for sharing social media account login details and passwords.
- Gained the ability to monitor and listen to social media conversations that mention or are related to the council or its services.
- Gained the ability to analyse and report on all social media activity and the performance of all social media users.