Revamped online services prove a winner

Article image - Revamped online services prove a winner ePathway Liaison Officer Dee-Anne Paolatto (seated) coordinated Gladstone Regional Council’s efforts to improve its online services, with the assistance of Information Systems Supervisor Sue Doyle.

Gladstone Regional Council in Queensland is encouraging residents to access council services and make payments online to save time and money.

While hard work will always be applauded, there is a reason the old adage ‘work smarter, not harder’ is a popular one.

With Gladstone Regional Council’s Customer Service counter visits on the increase last year, the delivery of online services and increasing staff mobility were identified as high priorities for Council’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Strategic Plan for 2016-18.

The decision was made to use modules within Council’s existing system, Pathway, to deliver these objectives.

With the ICT team already pushed to its limits, the project was given standalone status with staff member Dee-Anne Paolatto appointed to the temporary ePathway Liaison Officer position for 12 months.

Ms Paolatto said the online service project had achieved a number of significant milestones since it was launched last August and boasted 431 registered users as of February.

“Each milestone includes extensive stakeholder liaison, training of relevant staff and marketing the new service to the community,” she said.

“Registered users are able to access their rates and accounts information and we are working towards making copies of rates notices available online also.

“Using a payment reference number, customers can pay rates and water charges, animal registration renewals, trade waste consumption, infringements, and sundry invoices via the service.”

Council has processed more than 3000 payments online since August and payments transactions across Customer Service counters have decreased by eight per cent.

The new online services facility has proven invaluable for animal owners with updating animal details such as; change of address within the Gladstone Region; advise that they have left the region; notify if an animal is deceased, has been sold or has a new owner; and upload desexing and microchipping paperwork.

A total of 325 requests to update animal details have been received online since the new service was adopted saving Council $1300 in associated costs.

The implementation of online payments has also reduced the number of animal registration renewals processed across the counter by eight per cent, and to date, 20 per cent of all new animal registrations have been completed online, saving Council more than $2600.

Additionally, a review of Council’s Customer Service Request (CSR) procedures found that the most popular method of lodgement was by phone and that the existing online form generated too many time consuming follow-up procedures.

By identifying the most frequent customer requests suitable for online queries, Council now offers 26 types of customer requests that can be processed more efficiently using online services.
Customers are also now able to view the status of their requests online.

With four months remaining until the project is completed, customers can expect to soon be able to lodge building and plumbing applications online and Council officers will be able to undertake various types of inspections using a mobile device.