This blog is about our experience using GOV.UK Notify. GOV.UK Notify is a service maintained by the Government Digital Service (GDS) which allows central government, local authorities and the NHS to send emails, text messages and letters to users.
Over the last few months, we have been building a tool which integrates GOV.UK Notify with our Manage Arrears system to communicate with Tenants and Leaseholders who owe the Council money. It has been an interesting experience which has exposed our team to the benefits GOV.UK Notify has to offer as well as how to overcome some of its limitations.
What does GOV.UK Notify do?
- Send free emails
- Sends up to 25,000 free SMS
- Anyone can create for letters, emails and SMS using their templates – a technical expert isn’t required!
- It sends both individual and bulk SMS, emails and letters
- The Notify API integrates with web applications or back-office system to send and record communication
- Organisations can incorporate their own Logo headers into the communications
- It is a secure and reliable service
What were the challenges we faced?
- GOV.UK Notify only holds sent SMS, emails and letters for 7 days – we needed to find a way to extract, save and make the data accessible to the service users for a longer period.
- The letter templates were slightly restrictive – meaning users have to be creative when designing letters
- GOV.UK Notify only handles addresses in the UK
Overcoming some of these challenges
Our developers found a way to overcome these challenges by using GOV.UK Notify’s precompiled letter feature instead of the standard template facility. This meant that our letters created before they got to GOV.UK Notify instead of within GOV.UK Notify. This allowed us to;
– Format and create letters without restrictions
– Save letters in our own system
– Retrieve letters
Due to the small percentage of International address in our database, we decided to handle these manually and GOV.UK Notify has included it on their roadmap.
Why we like GOV.UK Notify?
- GOV.UK Notify has allowed our project team to think outside of the box and be the first service in Hackney Council to incorporate the ability for letters to be sent via GOV.UK Notify and to be saved and retrieved safely at any point in time. This is extremely important in arrears management for audit purposes.
- Using GOV.UK Notify eliminates a lot of manual steps and costs incurred by some teams who manually mail merging 1000s of letters. These costs and steps include; Stationery costs (Paper, Envelopes, Ink), Postage costs Officer time (Going to the printer, waiting for the printer, enveloping and letters)
- The cost of sending 1 double-sided letter via GOV.UK Notify is only 30p. This includes the 3 points above which the officers no longer need to do or pay. Not including officer time and stationery costs, this is already a saving of 27% (based 2nd class postage)
- Integrating our Manage Arrears system with GOV.UK Notify has allowed users to send individual and bulk SMS messages. They like this because:
* The action is quick and simple
*The data is up-to-date and relevant
*The integration allows the content to be automatically written back to the Manage arrears system
*There is no cost for up to 25,000 messages
- GOV.UK Notify records the status of letters, enabling users to track each stage of a letter from the point it is received, to be printed, and posted
- GOV.UK Notify has a clear dashboard – making it a breeze to obtain statistics
- Gov Notify’s customer service is Awesome. The team are very quick to respond and very knowledgeable
By sharing our experience I hope this helps you think about how you might also take advantage of this great tool. If you have any questions or would like a demo feel free to contacts me.