The BDO Local Gov team recently carried out a successful behaviour change pilot with three councils in Kent using “nudge” techniques to influence customer behaviour and manage demand for council tax services.
We supported the Kent Customer Services Group to carry out a three month pilot, which used insights from behavioural economics to promote online services which would boost efficiencies in the Council and subsequently save money. Working with the Councils, BDO developed simple, low-cost plans to encourage customers to either pay their council tax online or set up direct debits.
Andy Mahon, Local Government Partner, BDO said: “Using the knowledge that people’s decisions are influenced by the behaviour of their peers, we advised placing specific messaging on council tax correspondence to inform residents about how their neighbours were paying council tax. We also knew that people take the path of least resistance, so we looked to align the best path for the Council with the easiest path for the customer.”
As a result to the changes on messaging around direct debit payments, on participating council saw the number of people paying their council tax by direct debit increase in one month by 23% compared to the same month last year.
By making ‘online’ the easiest option for the customer, other participating councils saw an increase in the number of online payments by on average 30% over three months compared to the same time period last year.
BDO’s Andy Mahon continued:
“Managing customer demand is an important priority for local government at the moment, as Councils are continually being pushed to do more with less. We are delighted that this behaviour change pilot has been so successful in such a short period of time. This goes to show that behaviour change techniques play a vital role in managing customer demand and improving customer access provision for local authorities.”
The project was sponsored by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on behalf of the Kent Customer Services Group. Ian Hirst, Programme manager responsible for business change at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said that “Councils in Kent are pushing forwards with the digital agenda, the success of this pilot project demonstrates the benefit of using a different mind-set to challenge established working practices.”
For more information about BDO’s behaviour change work, please contact Antonia.Jeans@bdo.co.uk.