A council has gained national recognition for its work to improve customer services using digital technology.

Durham County Council won the Best Customer Experience Award at the Public Sector Paperless Awards this month.

It follows work to enhance its digital services, which has resulted in more than 137,000 customers using the ‘Do it Online’ service to submit more than 170,000 service requests over the last year. This has improved customer satisfaction levels, as well as reducing processing costs.

Not only is reporting online easy and convenient, it enables requests to be sent directly to the frontline. Mobile applications have also been developed for specific audiences to increase user participation and improve customer engagement, such as a student app to help manage waste more effectively.

Automated emails, meanwhile, keep customers up-to-date with how their requests are being handled and notify them of changes, reducing the need for them to contact the council. Text messaging is also used to update customers, as well as to inform local councillors about a wide range of issues such as road closures in their area.

Cllr Andrea Patterson, Cabinet member for corporate services and rural issues at Durham County Council, said: “It’s wonderful to receive national recognition for our customer service experience and I would like to congratulate all the teams involved for their hard work.

“Forty-eight per cent of our online service requests are now being made outside of office hours, making it quicker and easier for our residents to request services or report issues at their convenience. It is great to see our online facilities are making such a positive difference to people’s lives.”

The ‘Do it Online’ website allows people to provide feedback to the customer services team in a variety of ways; either online when completing a request, through the website, by completing an automated satisfaction survey or by registering a compliment, suggestion or complaint.

More than 72,000 people have provided feedback on their online experience, with 76 per cent of customers giving a rating of four or five stars. The information provided is used to shape services and the online improvements combined have resulted in improved customer satisfaction across the board.

To find out what services can be requested online, visit https://doitonline.durham.gov.uk/