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Strand 1 - Residents and local businesses first

More people are going online to access services and the residents of Ashford are no different to the wider population. Our residents and local businesses are our customers and they expect easy and simple-to-use services that are available online and on any device that they use. Our residents visit our website across a range of devices. In 2021 57.3% of users accessed council services via a mobile device, 37.7% via a desktop computer and 5% used a tablet.

We have a variety of online services available for people to self-serve 24/7. These range from quite simple contact forms through to complex end–to-end services like reporting a missed bin that automate as much as possible to provide a seamless and quicker resolution for our residents.

At Ashford Borough Council, we want to ensure that our residents are at the forefront of everything we do. Our residents want to be able to report, apply and pay easily and be able to track what they have reported to the resolution of the process, receiving updates along the way, and we need to be able to facilitate this for them.

www.ashford.gov.uk is a trusted source of information and we need to ensure our residents trust our online presence, relying on consistent design and content to know they are interacting with us – and only us – whether that be via our website or social media channels. We will also share any known scams via our social media channels. We will work to use trusted systems and sources such as .Gov products such as Notify & Verify to help to build confidence in our online services.

What we will do

  • Build a customer portal that gives residents information all in one place.
  • Improve online services to enable our services to focus on supporting the digitally excluded and particularly vulnerable residents.
  • Carry out user research and receive continuous feedback from residents to understand what they need from us. Create a roadmap and continue to make sure our website is clear and easy-to-use.
  • Build any new digital services with the resident at the centre focusing on quick and easy transactions that provide a good customer experience.
  • Enhance our channels for customer services, increasing chat and investigating platforms such as WhatsApp and .Gov notify.
  • Use data analytics to identify trends/failed search terms and optimise our website content by improving keywords, page titles and descriptions and ensuring that the design and content is consistent.
  • Utilise social media and emerging communications channels (such as Nextdoor) to reach out to the community and engage with them on the channels they choose to communicate with us on.