Contensis helps Cambridgeshire Constabulary reduce non-emergency phone calls by 80%.
About Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police
Founded in 1851, Cambridgeshire Constabulary is a modern police force that serves one of the most rural but fastest growing counties in the UK.
Leading by example
Cambridgeshire recognised that its existing websites weren't providing what its customers needed, so in 2017 the constabulary embarked on an ambitious project to transform its digital offering into an example of best practice for other police forces.
“We had an outdated online presence, split across two separate websites; one for information, holding mostly corporate jargon, and another for online reporting and webchat,” says Emily Gilgan, web project manager at Cambridgeshire. “Our aim was to combine these into a single website, offering the people of Cambridgeshire access to police information and online non-emergency services, available 24/7.”
The constabulary hoped that by making it easy to access information and report non-urgent crimes on their website, residents would choose to self-serve online – freeing up the force’s contact centres to deal with time-critical emergency calls.
The right tools for the job
One of the things that held the force back in the past was the lack of a content management system. “Our two main websites were hard coded sites without a CMS. This meant we, as a force, were wholly reliant on a select few members of our ICT team to edit and manage the websites on our behalf,” Emily says.
While it might seem as though the lack of a CMS would lock down control of the website, Emily says it created exactly the opposite problem. “There were no corporate guidelines or standards, the content was inconsistent, and the lack of a CMS meant anyone across the force could request content edits or additions – resulting in an inconsistent tone, poor readability, site accessibility, and user experience.”
Cambridgeshire knew they needed a CMS to give them control over the new website, but they didn’t have the capability to build the site themselves. So, they put the entire project out to tender. According to Emily, choosing Contensis was an easy decision. “The overall delivery of Zengenti’s tender response, on-site presentation, CMS demonstration, and clarity with regard to online security measures made Zengenti the lead contender of the entire shortlisting process.”
Working as one team
As Cambridgeshire had no in-house web team, our services team supported them throughout the entire project – from discovery and design, through to development and training.
The first thing to do was identify the needs of the forces’ customers. We began by running discovery workshops with key stakeholders at the constabulary. Together we developed personas, identified visitors’ top tasks, and wrote user stories that helped define the new website’s information architecture (IA) and navigation.
Our mobile-first approach was particularly important to ensure that users would be able to carry out top tasks like reporting crime quickly, from any location and at any time.
Throughout the project our services team were in constant contact with Emily and her team. “Working in this way allowed us to collaborate with Zengenti’s staff to continuously implement and test ideas, adaptations, and improvements along the project journey,” Emily says.
On its own a redesign might have helped the constabulary to improve its service for a year or two before it needed to start the process all over again.
What the team at Cambridgeshire really needed were the skills and tools to build online services themselves. Using the Contensis forms module Emily and her team are able to quickly create forms that allow users to pick their location from a map, show what stage they are at in the process, and automatically add an internal reference number to each response.
The forms they have built are already easing the pressure on call-centres. Non-emergency calls to the force’s 101 number were down by 3.71% in 2018 compared to 2017. “The reduction in 101 calls is expected to continue as we progress promotion of our online services, to encourage our users to choose ‘website-first’, says Emily. “This has only been possible through the easy-to-use forms module available within Contensis, allowing us to build forms in-house and test new services with users prior to launching them."
An award-winning website
Cambridgeshire’s ambition paid off. As well as winning over the people of Cambridgeshire, the website has made a big impression in the industry, being shortlisted for Website of the Year at the Public Sector Communications Awards in June 2018 and winning the capstone Digital Achievement Award at the 2018 Granicus Digital Strategy Awards.
Emily is pleased with the results. “Contensis allows our web staff to fully manage the force website like we never have before. Cambridgeshire now has a successful website, which the public have received incredibly well,” she says. “From the day we launched, on 16 October 2017, the force website has grown in both quality and the number of services we offer online,” says Emily.
“The Zengenti team have proven to be crucial consultants throughout our digital journey,” Emily says. “Communicating with developers, designers, account managers, UX strategists and other staff was, and is, always a pleasure. Discussing requirements and researching creative ways of delivering them has been an exciting journey, to say the least.”
The force isn’t prepared to rest on its laurels either. “We have a roadmap of other online services we aim to deliver over the next three years, some of which have been launched in recent months such as; reporting business crime and dangerous driving,” says Emily. “We are aware we still have a long way to go to until we can consider ourselves ‘fully accessible, digitally’, but we endeavour to continue our efforts and launch new online services by listening to our users’ needs and internal ambitions.”