My Resident Account
Many councils have chosen to have a “My Account” feature on their website which gives residents a single sign up and access to personalize services – usually connected to more than one back office system.
Typically residents might be able to do the following:
- Council Tax – View details, set up a direct debit, make payments, apply for discounts and amend address details online
- Housing Benefit – Apply for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or free school meals. View details and complete a change of circumstances online
- Council Housing – Apply to join the housing register. Council tenants can register to view rent statements, make payments online, report a range of issues and request repairs
- Registrar services – Book appointments online to register a birth, death, marriage or civil partnership, as well as book a wedding and other ceremonies
- Parking services – Apply for parking permits, pay a parking fine and access important information on parking regulations and parking fines, including how to appeal a parking fine
- Bins and waste – Book and pay for a household bulky waste collection and request a new or replacement bin
- Pest control – Book a pest control visit
- Report issues – Report a wide range of issues within the borough
This provides consistency and improves the reliability of data since the council knows via the login who the resident is already. It saves time (at both ends) and improves the council reputation, as residents feel connected.
Implemented well, it is a very positive feature.
However, there are common mistakes in how a My Account feature is implemented and these should be considered by any team looking to implement such a feature.
The following points are crucial to the success of a My Account feature:
- There must be clear requirements to know what it is intended to do
- There must be absolute commitment from management to drive this change through
- There must be sufficient staff to ensure the work is adequately resourced
- There must be a clear owner who champions the account
- There must be several back office integrations, from the launch, if a resident signs up and there is only one thing they can do, they won’t come back, even if you add more – there must be value
- There must be a marketing campaign to promote sign up
- It should be constantly reviewed and optimised, launching the My Account is not the end, it’s the beginning.
Too often the feature is added as a tick exercise as a senior manager thinks the council should have the feature but the time and resources are not put into it’s implementation. Two years down the line, everyone is scratching their heads wondering why it all went so wrong.
In my experience, many councils are bad at investing enough in these schemes, they are mindful of public money and do too little, too late, not realising of course that in the end it costs a great deal more to sort out. A little more realism in planning is necessary.
Not having a My Account…..
If a council decides against this feature, there are also issues if they wish to have digital interactions with residents. Having lone back office integrations will result in residents having several usernames and passwords to remember in order to interact with the council, this is generally considered undesirable and overly complicated.