Coronavirus Front Door Project – Weeknote 14/08

Welcome to our first Coronavirus Front Door weeknote! 

What’s the project? 

The project aims to create the tools, processes and support for customer services staff on the Council’s 3111 Coronavirus Support helpline. This helpline, although previously focused on food provision, is now working on a frontdoor  model where 3111 agents have strengths-based conversations with residents and understand their needs holistically before  signposting them to support services in the community. 

We’re a team of colleagues from HackIT, FutureGov and MadeTech focused on delivering value quickly to customer service agents throughout the project, which runs until mid-September. 

What’s our vision? 

We plan to design and deliver tools which will enable staff to give the best possible customer service to vulnerable residents calling the phoneline. This will involve tools which can support agents to 

  1. Have empathetic and strengths-based conversations with residents; 
  2. Easily access information about support available in the residents’ communities,
  3. Effectively signpost residents to those resources in the community  

We know that staff are doing a great job with these three things on the helpline already. However, staff have told us that the current system requires them to

  • Use up a lot of time on multiple sheets, documents and platforms to guide their conversations 
  • It can be hard to know which is the right service to signpost a resident to 
  • It can be frustrating not knowing what’s happened to a resident after they have been dealt with/signposted to services

Our job is to make things easier for staff and remove the existing barriers to them delivering great customer service!

What have we done so far? 

  • A rapid review of what existing tools we could adapt for the service – taking in a lot of learning from the great work being done in Benefits & Housing Needs
  • Completed tech spike on initial questions of matching resident’s food needs to services with existing Council tools (the Vulnerability Checker)
    • This spike was a key piece of work early in the project. It proved that we could take a resident’s postcode and specific needs and show a filtered list of food banks in their local area. From concept testing this with agents we believe these can save a lot of time for staff on the helpline who have to go between several different resources to match post code to available services
  • User research and concept testing of the Snapshot tool 
    • We decided the ‘Snapshot’ tool from B&HN would be a great place to start to test whether we can add value to 3111 agents as it gives agents prompts for strengths-based conversations and can highlight relevant services based on the resident’s need
    • The team worked with Jayson and Selwyn and thanks to the hard work of the team developers Riccardo, Kyle and Maysa we have taken over the responsibility for the I Need Help admin tool and fixed existing bugs in the tool
    • Released the new INH tool to agents and did a briefing for staff on new functionality and how to use it
  • Designed and released an MVP Snapshot tool for 3111 agents – with some great designs for our long term vision
    • Live tested the release with agents on the phone 
    • Implemented hotjar and a google form to track users’ feedback to the tool 


We’ve faced a number of challenges that slowed our pace at the start –  lots of overlapping holidays, picking up a product from another team while the service is running live and grappling with the complexity of providing a service to vulnerable residents in an unpredictable time. This combined with the major ICT outage across the Council – we were mindful of being too demanding of our colleagues in Infrastructure who have been working long days and nights over the last couple of weeks. 

Grappling with this complexity has been difficult but the team has done a great job in a short space of timing of getting to grips with the challenges (including the taking on the INH service), getting some great insight and delivering functionality for 3111 agents. 

It’s probably fair to say that we had some long and tough meetings this week – on Wednesday in particular we spent about 3 hours in planning and refinement on the hottest day of the year, grappling with the balance between continuing to develop our thinking and build functionality versus getting something into the hands of users; about the need to get real world testing feedback versus the risk of giving our users a product that isn’t good enough. Whilst these were long and detailed discussions, they were incredibly productive – we came to very clear consensus about the outcome and all contributed / were heard very evenly. It was helpful to have input from Ben Stuart and Elle who are all slightly removed from the day to day who were able to help us look up and out, identify what our assumptions are, and be clear about what we are testing. 

The response from the team since Wednesday was a mammoth effort – releasing two tools by Friday afternoon, collecting our first feedback and setting up next week. 


Our immediate priorities next week are: 

  • Check the INH release for bugs
  • Gather feedback from the snapshot test


Go back to our user story and collectively decide which is the next element we want to add into snapshot. The functionality we stripped out in order to get the test out quickly was the tool’s ability to store data, and to share outcomes from calls with residents easily, so we’ll probably start with these areas. 


Longer term we’re thinking about which user story we want to tackle next, and how the feedback from this week’s testing will affect what functionality we prioritise. 

We are working to understand what performance tracking data our colleagues in SPED and the BECC need about the line and how to collect this most effectively.

We are working with the Find Support Services team to understand how we can align with their work, using the same source data about services in the community. 

We also need to understand what, if any, role our colleagues in public health want the 3111 line to play a role in local efforts to contain coronavirus outbreaks; and how our tools would have to adapt to support those sorts of calls. 

+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.