Headlines: October 30th, 2002

Liverpool City Council has won a prestigious national award for the development of a system designed to improve relations with its customers. The council, which was the only local authority to make it to the final 100 in the National Business Awards, carried off the honour in the ‘Best Use of Technology’ category.The award recognised the transformation of customer services through the authority’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Its pioneering six million pound deal with Oracle, believed to be the largest in local government history, has cut paper-work and streamlined council services by bringing together 220 IT systems and turning more than 500 databases into one, central system.

At the awards ceremony last night the judges said, ” Clearly defined values helped smooth the path of implementation, a path which was all the more hazardous due to the sheer nature of the local government image. The value proposition has been enhanced with customer satisfaction levels increasing and the Community Charge reducing. “

The council says the CRM technology allows staff to call up complete customer profiles from a single point, allowing them to provide a personalised, individual service for each person. It says, too, that thousands of people who call Liverpool Direct or visit one of the city’s One Stop Shops each day are also benefiting. Each caller is given an individual account which means they can be helped in one call or visit, no matter how many services they need.

Staff can also use the information in a customer’s profile pro-actively, to offer people services such as leisure passes and adult learning. A call system where staff telephone residents to offer help and advice has already helped local people claim more than 800,000 pounds in housing benefits.

The city council faced competition from some big companies, including BP, Cable & Wireless, WH Smith and Raymarine Ltd in the awards which are designed as a showcase to promote excellence and achievement across the business community. Almost 1,900 nominations were received and even a place on the shortlist was seen as entry to the ‘ Who’s Who’ of the best of British business.

Liverpool council leader, councillor Mike Storey, said: “The city council continues to receive national recognition for our transformation of services. Being nominated for this prestigious business award is a testament to all we are trying to achieve here. Just a few years ago, the city council was synonymous with poor, outdated services. The fact that we are now competing with the best of the private sector shows how far we have come in such a short space of time.”