Top 5 solutions for managing peaks and troughs in demand.
Organisations can effectively and efficiently manage peaks and troughs in demand by investing in scalable, agile and flexible technology and digital solutions.
1. Pre-empt demand and be proactive
The first step to managing demand effectively is to understand it. Very rarely is increased demand completely unforeseen or entirely out of an organisation’s control. More commonly, increased demand falls into one of three categories:
Avoidable demand – demand that could be avoided if better systems were in place (for example, enabling citizens to report missed collections through an app rather than having to call up).
Preventable demand – demand that could have been prevented if proactive measures had been taken when a potential issue was first reported (for example, not responding to reports of faulty streetlights, leading to repeated calls).
Demand arising from failure – demand caused by a mistake, system failure or poor communication (for example, letters being sent to citizens containing incorrect information, leading to an influx of calls).
In each of these cases, proactive measures can be taken to reduce demand and minimise the impact the demand has on teams.
Look for patterns in demand and plan accordingly. Do a root cause analysis whenever unexpected demand occurs and use the data to prevent unmanageable peaks in the future. The more you recognise what is causing peaks and understand the impact they have, the easier it becomes to manage them proactively.
2. Increase capacity
When a peak in demand has been predicted, this can be managed by increasing capacity and ensuring the right tools and resources are in place.
Extend opening hours or call times – reduce call waiting times by extending availability and spreading demand.
Upgrade systems – invest in scalable solutions so that extra capacity (for example, additional phone lines) can be easily added during peak times.
Cross-skill teams – upskill employees so they are cross-functional and can support other departments during peak times.
Streamline processes – determine which tasks must be actioned immediately and which can be actioned once the demand is more manageable.
The time and cost involved in hiring and training new employees to cover peaks in demand can be significant. This can be avoided by outsourcing tasks to competent third parties.
Meritec Revenues and Benefits Processing service provides a perfect example of how outsourcing allows you to scale staffing levels up and down as required without having to recruit.
We provide highly skilled Revenues and Benefits professionals who can deliver immediate results on various software systems. They’ll act as an extension of your team when you don’t have the in-house capacity to manage demand.
This service can also be used to cover absences and annual leave, reduce backlogs of work and bridge recruitment gaps. Outsourcing is a cost-effective alternative to hiring.
4. Allow citizens to self-serve
A great way of reducing the impact of peaks in demand is to allow citizens to self-serve online.
An online portal allows citizens to complete tasks – such as raising a query, making a payment or submitting a request – without having to call or visit their local government office. Citizens can access the portal from anywhere, on any device, at any time.
This creates a better and more convenient experience for citizens and reduces pressure on call handlers. It also significantly reduces costs, with the average face to face interaction costing £29, the average call costing £14 and the average digital interaction costing just 8p.
Data submitted through a portal can be automatically and securely exported to or integrated with relevant back-office systems.
Allowing citizens to self-serve will minimise the impact of peaks in demand and free call handlers up to deal with more urgent issues.
5. Go digital and automate workflows
Get rid of outdated, inefficient systems and embrace digital transformation. Digitisation and automation can significantly increase capacity, speed up workflows and greatly improve customer experience and brand perception.
Digitalise forms – digital forms are easier to send out and complete, and you reduce the risk of them getting lost or damaged.
Extract data automatically –inputting data manually is time-consuming and subject to human error. With digital forms and the right software, you can automatically extract data and export it to the relevant places.
Use templates – templates allow for auto-generation of letters, forms and contracts to speed up processes.
Document retrieval – paper filing systems are outdated and inefficient. Storing documents on the cloud allows for faster retrieval and easier archiving.
Invoicing and payment processing – automatically generate recurring invoices and allow online payment processing.
Enquiry and complaints handling – automatically reply to enquiries and complaints and ensure the enquiry is forwarded to the relevant person or department to be actioned.
Almost any frequently duplicated process can be automated, and organisations that automate workstreams see substantial increases in capacity. Not only does it speed up processes and increase capacity, but it also makes life easier for employees, reduces errors and ensures a better customer experience.
Managing your peaks and troughs with Meritec
We specialise in digital transformation and digital solutions for local authorities and housing associations.
Investing in one of our low-code digital platforms will help you manage demand and offer many other benefits as well.
Facilitates customer self-service – as we mentioned above, allowing citizens to self-serve speeds up processes and reduces pressure on your teams. Our platforms allow citizens to self-serve from any device, anywhere, at any time.
Joins up systems across the organisation – integrate your existing systems and connect multiple departments to create a joined-up experience for customers.
Increases efficiency – streamline and automate processes for increased efficiency and fewer errors.
Enables mobile working – allows your employees to work remotely to keep up with demand even when they cannot come into the office.
GDPR compliant – collect and store data securely to ensure GDPR compliance. Our low-code platform has been designed to scale as the needs of your organisation change. We also offer a wide range of software solutions to simplify and streamline a particular process, maximise an opportunity or resolve a specific problem.
For example, our garden recycling module allows citizens to subscribe to the service, order bins and make payment online, meaning no calls or face to face interactions are required.
Everything we offer is designed with a specific problem or process in mind, and we can work with you to create bespoke solutions to meet your needs. Our aim is to support your organisation long term by providing a future proof digital solution that evolves and grows with your organisation as your requirements change.
If you would like to learn more about any of our services or view a demonstration, please get in touch with our friendly team.