digitalservices.maidstone.gov.uk

Blog Launching Gov Notify


Gov Notify had been around for a while before we decided we wanted to use it. We knew that we wanted to be able to send texts to customers, but there was always something more pressing that needed to be done. Finally, I was in a position to get started with what we had decided would be our “gateway” project, sending bulky collection reminder texts. This would demonstrate how the system works, while also giving us an idea of the interest from residents.

I heard through the grapevine that Gravesham Council had recently gone live with the same service we were planning, so I got in touch with them and arranged a trip to see it in action as they use the same forms package as us. It seemed straightforward enough, so the next day I set to work on getting the web service set up in Achieve to send texts through the API.

Because we operate bulky collections on every day of the week, it was necessary to set the system up in such a way that the text would be sent automatically, rather than needing to run a script that looked for people having a collection the following day and then manually sending them the text.

Thankfully, this was easy enough given Achieve’s process builder and integration escalation ability. Initially, I had intended that customers would be able to choose the date and time that they would receive the text. However, Achieve’s servers do not support British Summer Time, which meant that every time the clocks changed in, someone would have to amend the form so the text would send at the correct time. Not a problem when it’s only being used in one form, but as we start using the texts in more forms, it would create a large amount of work.

It was decided that we would send the text at 6.30pm, the night before the collection was due. This time was chosen on the basis that people are likely to be home from work at this time, and are unlikely to disturb anyone by putting their items out.

Image showing the text as received on someone's phone

Unfortunately, our contractors who are responsible for collecting bulky items, do not keep a record of when the items are not left for collection at a property. This means that we will not easily be able to monitor any benefits that the system has provided.

After two weeks of being live, there had been 149 bookings made, and 66% of customers had asked for a reminder text.

Steven is Transformation Officer in the Transformation and Digital Services Team. If you have any questions you can contact transformation@maidstone.gov.uk.  If you would like to find full details of the customer account project you can do so on Pipeline.


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