SmartContact®: joined up public contact management in UK policing

Shaping the policing response to citizen contact

 Public Contact Management plays a huge role in shaping customer satisfaction and confidence in the service. For most members of the public it is their first touch point with the police. It is also fundamental in shaping the policing response and supporting the delivery of effective public services.

So how will Public Contact Management evolve? An increasingly demanding public is always looking for new ways of engaging with the police. Citizens want their interactions to be handled efficiently and sensitively. The National Policing Vision identifies some key recommendations. For example, the public should be able to make contact via online and social media channels and previous interactions should be used to tailor a more effective response. Similarly the National Policing Vision highlights how an individual’s circumstances should be identified when they contact the force, making officers and staff better placed to identify the vulnerable and ensure more effective outcomes.

Clearly, in a world of austerity, meeting these requirements needs careful consideration. Are there more effective ways of working across the end-to-end contact management environment, from police call handlers interacting with the public, to control room despatchers directing officers to an incident? What technology solutions are available to support staff in making better decisions based around the needs of the public? And can these solutions be integrated to deliver a seamless force-wide solution?

What should things be like?

Future Public Contact Management will be built on enabling technology and transformed working practices. Repeat callers will be dealt with more effectively; vulnerable people and anti-social behaviour victims will be identified quickly. Call takers can make more informed decisions. Police resources will avoid being dispatched to incidents unnecessarily. Members of the public can have a true resolution at first point of contact, increasing customer satisfaction. This is what ‘good’ looks like.

We call it SmartContact®. 

Introducing SmartContact®

SmartContact® is all about working smarter, maximising use of resources and helping to deliver more effective services to the public. It is a fully integrated solution for Public Contact Management in policing.

SmartContact® seamlessly brings together the core areas of contact management in a single solution. It can be used by officers and police staff in the contact centre, across the Force and out in the community on a mobile device. It enables Forces to address two key issues: firstly, how to effectively provide more accessible services; and secondly, how to deliver a consistent response across these different touch points. SmartContact® joinsup the handling of all interactions, whether emergency or non-emergency contacts; or whether face-to-face, over the phone, or online interactions. It provides officers and staff with the information they require to make quick, well informed decisions, as well as enabling them to provide that all important consistent answer to an enquiry.

 We understand that it is important to deal with issues at the first point of contact. That’s why we’ve designed SmartContact® to help quickly identify any contact requiring a specialist or tailored response, for example, repeat callers, vulnerable persons and victims of anti-social behaviour.

SmartContact® also allows interactions to be managed more effectively with partner agencies. Multi-agency working demands a more collaborative approach so that best practice can be shared to ensure the provision of consistent service levels, whether the interaction is with another Force, the Fire & Rescue Service, or a Local Authority.

A smart response to callers

Over 31 million emergency calls and 51 million non-emergency calls are handled each year in the UK; that’s 225,000 each day. Many of these are repeat calls about recurring issues. With instant access to previous contact history about the caller, the operator can deal with the call efficiently without spending additional time questioning the caller.

One platform; multiple contact channels

SmartContact® supports multiple contact channels, improving public contact by having a single contact handling process, whether it is face to face at front desk or via SMS or Email. Here’s how it works:

Email

Utilising the SmartContact® message distribution system, multiple inbound emails channels can be converted into SmartContact® tasks giving the public another method of communication with their local Force. Automated responses can be configured, giving the customer reassurance their email has been received.

Telephony

SmartContact® can interface into emergency service telephony systems, with the ability to obtain vital information from BT’s Enhanced EISEC service. Inbound callers are identified and the screen automatically populated with their details, allowing the contact handler to deal with the call effectively informed by the knowledge of previous contacts.

Incident management

SmartContact® integrates Contact Management and Incident Management to provide a seamless workflow without duplication of effort, improving response to the public.

Face to Face

SmartContact® not only allows front desk staff to capture valuable contact information but enables staff to capture crime information, create contacts, generate service requests and update information.

Social Media

SmartContact®’s social media interface allows any contact handler to monitor Twitter accounts either by an account, trends or hash tags. This enables contact handlers to be more informed on trending social media activities.

Records Management

SmartContact® integrates with records management systems, enabling contact handlers to systematically search “Golden” nominal records, reducing duplicate entries and enabling them to verify contacts quickly to give them the information required to make an informed decision.

Live Web Chat

Contact handlers are able to hold chat sessions with those who are unable to contact the Force by phone, or as a preferred method. For some, a web chat could be the only means of communication; the contact handler is able to identify the caller quickly, make an informed choice and respond quickly.

Text Message

Utilising the SmartContact® message distribution system, text message channels can be converted into SmartContact® tasks, giving the public another method of communication with their local Force. Automated responses can also be configured, giving the customer reassurance their text message has been received.

Online Forms

Process workflow enables the Force to control service expectations to the public by managing any actions to both internal departments and third-party organisations. Automated responses can also be configured giving the customer reassurance their online form has been received.

Build on existing investments

SmartContact® combines the proven capabilities of APD and Sopra Steria in Contact Management, Incident Management and Communications Management in UK policing. This means that many Forces have the foundations on which to extend the functionality of their current technology, rather than starting from scratch.

Understanding the financial pressures in modern policing, SmartContact® enables Forces to build on the considerable investments already made in technology, allowing them to realise immediate IT and operational cost savings.

 So what is it like for users? We provide staff with a single clear, intuitive, customisable interface, which gives them with access to all services: Command and Control, Mapping, Contact Management and ICCS. Those already familiar with our interfaces will simply transition to the new SmartContact® application. The customisable interface means new users can configure something that works for them and the training requirement is kept to a minimum.

Enabling technology

SmartContact® is built on modern communication and user interface technologies for flexible, performant and reliable delivery of citizen-centric service. Importantly, SmartContact® logs all interactions, both in the Control Room and beyond.

Working together for over 15 years, Sopra Steria and APD have more than 45 years’ combined experience in the Emergency Services sector. As experts in delivering mission-critical solutions, we offer market leading products that successfully complement each other in 26 UK and 58 international Control Rooms.

Delivering smart benefits

SmartContact® is all about working smarter, maximising use of resources and helping to deliver more effective services to the public. By logging and tracking all interactions with a Force, SmartContact® helps to provide the public with enhanced services that will drive improvement in perception, confidence and satisfaction. 

For the public – improved customer satisfaction

  • Accessibility: from the traditional 999 and 101, to social media or email, communication is made more accessible, making interaction with the police easier
  • Tailored Responses: the public will receive tailored responses to their communications based on a comprehensive contact history formed by SmartContact®. Issues regarding vulnerable persons, repeat callers and victims of anti-social behaviour can be dealt with more immediately
  • First Point of Contact Resolution: interactions can be dealt with quickly and more effectively for a more consistent public service and increased customer satisfaction.

For the front line officer – increased professionalism in dealing with the public

  • Improved public confidence: giving officers better information when dealing with responses means they can handle incidents more professionally and consistently and are equipped to act in accordance with the needs of each specific situation
  • Improved officer safety: staff can make more measured responses, ensuring appropriate resources are dispatched to incidents, lowering the risk to officers if the incident requires specific skill-based resources

For the force - more effective resourcing and operational savings:

  • With more channels open to the public, communication with customers has never been easier. This builds strong knowledge around callers and incidents, allowing staff to make better informed decisions regarding resources and leading to significant operational savings
  • Information is no longer duplicated by staff across various systems, enabling a faster, more consistent response to incidents and increasing staff efficiency. This in turn can lead to further operational savings
  • A common infrastructure reduces the ongoing operational and support costs
  • SmartContact®’s flexibility means it extends beyond the Control Room. It can be used on the Front Desk, in Contact Centres and even as a more mobile solution. This reduces the need for multiple systems and the training costs associated with them. It also ensures that staff within the Force can be used more effectively and can work across multiple Control Room roles
  • SmartContact® provides a platform to collaborate with partner agencies or other areas of the Force to provide support in times of high demand. SmartContact® also allows Control Room or Contact Centre managers to set staff levels, making more efficient use of resources and leading to further operational cost savings