Coronavirus Front Door Project Weeknote – 21/08

After a few weeks of trying out different cadences this week had a good rhythm to it. As we released two tools to contact agents last Friday we were able to start this week with team planning on Monday. 

This gave us clarity right at the start of the week, and we set out two priorities: 

  • Having a stable production environment for the whole I Need Help Service and Snapshot tool which would:
    • Fix the existing tech debt on the I Need Help tool 
    • Link I Need Help with Snapshot so that call agents could navigate between the tools and information from one was recorded on the other
  • Researching how we might provide conversational prompts to call agents, empowering them to have Making Every Contact Count (MECC)-based conversations on the helpline with vulnerable residents – if you’d like to help, please complete our survey!

By the time we reached the end of the week we were able to make an additional release (an updated INH which links to Snapshot and records data back to INH) and showcase our week’s work at our show and tell, including getting really useful feedback on our design ideas for conversational prompts on the tool. 

On this, Andy has mocked up three design ideas for how conversational prompts might aid customer services staff in having MECC-based conversations with vulnerable residents – this will be a key focus for us next week. 

What feedback from colleagues across the council at the show and tell suggested was that the Snapshot tool could have potential to be useful for a range of services beyond just the 3111 helpline, or even the contact centre more broadly. It was interesting to hear suggestions that it could even be used by social workers, Occupational Therapists or made available to VCS partners and their staff. 


  • An ongoing frustration for call agents is the difficulty in navigating the Council’s various teams with different responsibilities – should a resident with a benefit query who’s at threat of homelessness be sent to Benefits or Housing Advice? Although there’s a larger question around services being clearer in their roles and responsibilities, a short-term and slightly messy goal is to have a point of contact for key services to respond to urgent/complex queries from the helpline. So far, I’ve had mixed results but plan to get clearer commitments from services next week. 
  • The challenges of remote working impacted our research activities this week. We tried to observe a number of call agents answer C19 helpline queries but as agents share their working hours on multiple call lines this was difficult to get right. Although this had some logistical challenges, Sam and Joy still managed to capture insight from their observations and their report can feed into our research activities next week


Our immediate focus is on conversational prompts and testing ideas with agents 

  • How might we define ‘better’ conversations? We’ll need to learn from our colleagues in customer services about the metrics they use to measure quality conversations
  • Research design ideas with call agents 
  • Build an MVP of one of the designs and get this into the hands of users as soon as possible to start getting real world feedback 

Future objectives 

  • Improve the way we share information with residents after a call 
    • Benefits & Housing Needs use a tool called Shared Plan to share follow up actions on both the Council and resident side. We’ve recognised that adapting this tool is probably out of scope for us given the short time lines for the rest of the project
    • However we are looking at how we apply some of the functionality from Shared Plan – making it as easy as possible to follow up with residents on advice and guidance, including callbacks
  • Automate data collection into our tools and create performance dashboards which stakeholders can view 
    • This is partly important so that we can track levels of need across the borough. It was also suggested in our Show & Tell today that this could be a useful way to track vulnerability – showing lists of residents who are calling the line particularly frequently, who may need more intensive support
    • We also need to see this in order to understand the pressure on our voluntary sector partners, so that we get a sense of their capacity and numbers of residents we’re signposting to them
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