Registrars Online Booking & Ceremonies

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) serves a community of approximately 692,000 citizens.

As part of NCC, the Registrations Service provide the facilities for citizens to register a Birth or Death, Notice of Marriage, Notices of Marriages held ‘Out of County’, Notice of Civil Partnerships and a Nationality Checking Service.

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  • Sector: Local Government

The Registrations Service also conducts and records civil marriage and civil partnerships performed in Northamptonshire.

Prior to transformation the Registration Service had seven different registration districts operating independently of each other that confined customer choice to the district where they actually lived.

Organisational challenges and impacts

As income generated from the discretionary services forms part of the financial outcomes for the Registration Service and Northamptonshire County Council it is vital to optimise the ceremony delivery process to improve efficiency.

Historically, the Registration Service organised and booked customers ceremonies by face to face and telephone, using diaries and manual excel based spreadsheets. This was across multiple sites and in isolation of a "central view" which proved to be unhelpful to customers and the Service alike.

The transformation of the Service began when customers booked their appointments via the council’s Customer Service Centre (CSC), where all appointments were booked on The Councils CRM Dynamics system. The Customer Service advisor in effect became the customers’ first point of contact for the Registration Service.

During the booking process for Birth, Death and Notices of Marriage appointments the CSC advisor asked a number of statutory legal questions and informed the customers of the documentation they needed to take with them to the appointment. The Contact Service Centre agent would therefore use pre-defined workflows to assess the customer’s qualification for an appointment for these services. Whilst this was a significant improvement over the historic method, using the telephone based appointment system was still inefficient and costly.

Challenges Summary

  • Excel Spreadsheets and workflows - time consuming and open to human error
  • Customer Call Centre staff time consumed
  • Difficulty managing and coordinating individual diaries for seven different districts within the County manually
  • Needed the facility to specifically designate appointment times for specific appointment types
  • Little or no presence on the NCC website
  • Allocation of available ceremony staff to bookings is a manual task

The Chosen Solution

For phase one of the transformation, Fuse developed and provided online appointment facilities for Birth, Death and Notice of Marriage appointments linked to CRM. The customer completed a series of qualifying questions during the booking process and subject to meeting those qualifications was presented with a choice of appointments to suit themselves. The customer was able to access the booking system 24/7 and at a time convenient to themselves rather than the 08:00 to 18:00, 5 days per week of the operating hours of the CSC.

Due to the complexity and statutory legal requirements for Marriage and Civil partnership ceremonies, the booking of these was centralised within the Registration Service. However all bookings and relevant information about ceremonies was logged in CRM.

For the second phase, Northamptonshire County Council’s (NCC) Registration Service decided there was a need for on an online ceremony enquiry system, and link to that, a ceremony planning system for the end-to-end management of ceremony bookings, including a process to organise the resources to deliver these ceremonies.

Fuse proposed to deliver the project using custom developed enquiry and planning forms together with processes within NCC’s public-facing SharePoint website. The user submissions would then be submitted to internally hosted web services that then processed the data into CRM, where the data is accessed and managed by internal staff (including IT, Registration Service and CSC staff). Inside the scope, the creation of custom ASP.NET forms was included to replace the existing enquiry and planning forms.

Benefits Summary

  • Promote other channels of customer engagement
  • Reduce the number of calls to the Customer Service Centre
  • Promote new ways of working for ceremony staff diaries
  • Encourage customer selfservice – online booking of appointments and requests for ceremony call-back
  • Enabling customers to book their own registration appointment at a time convenient to them
  • Providing on-line ‘first point of contact’ validation of customer legal status and qualification to register a life event
  • Reduced number of appointment ‘no-shows’ from email and text reminders
  • Improved monitoring and reporting of resources
  • Improved resource planning
  • Improved ceremony management
  • Up to date and accurate ceremony staff availability
  • Improved allocation of ceremony staff resources
  • Improved management information
  • Increased efficiency in the end-to-end delivery of the ceremony process

Results Achieved

Fuse developed a new Registrars area on the NCC website which would act as the landing page for users to understand the facilities that are available via the online transaction. From there customers were able to either navigate to the Ceremony web page which allows the customer to determine whether they wanted to enquire about a new ceremony or whether they wanted to submit a planning form containing their ceremony preferences to the Registration Service for the ceremony that had already been booked. Customers are also able to navigate through to book an appointment through the Online Booking Process for their Notices of Marriage/Civil Partnership appointments.

Fuse’s solution provided a number of new forms the customer completes in order to organise a ceremony or book an appointment which fully integrated into the council’s website providing a more consistent user experience.

Using CRM the ceremony planning system stored all bookings. Registrars have access to the planning system by way of a private authenticated online system (within the main NCC website) that was secure preventing access to information by unauthorised persons. The link from the web page can be emailed to the Registrar as a reminder from CRM. Mobile access to the Registrar Diary was also enabled so that Registrars are able to check their diary on the go.

Due to the nature of some appointment types, Funeral Directors had a large input into the requirements for the registration of a death appointment. Subsequent feedback has indicated that Funeral Directors have found this a useful outcome as they are now able to sit with an individual and book an appointment with their customer on a tablet or any other device.

From the solution provided, Fuse has created an effective channel shift for Northamptonshire County Council services by promoting different channels of customer engagement, reducing the number of calls to the Customer Service Centre and encouraging customers to self-serve by providing all information needed through the online booking system. This in turn has reduced costs and improved the processes and efficiency of the Registration Service and customers.

Our continuing transformation as a Service has needed partners that understood our services and that of our customers needs. Over the time that we have worked in partnership during the transformation that knowledge and trust has grown significantly. Fuse’s expertise has helped the Registration Service go beyond its initial improvement ideas which continue to have benefits for our customers and from an internal point of view, significantly improve our efficiency and delivery cost.

Mike Wilson
Registration Service
Northamptonshire County Council