Appointment system to reduce wait times

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has developed plans to streamline its front office operation with a switch to cashless services and bookable appointments following a big drop in visitor numbers.

The proposed changes, due to be considered by cabinet members on 12 October, will see cash payment kiosks replaced by online and phone payment options. Members of the public who need a face-to-face meeting will also be asked to make an appointment to cut down on waiting times and the time taken for transactions to be completed.

The new approach was tested during the Covid-19 lockdowns when nearly all enquiries from the public were resolved either online or over the telephone by trained advisers. Prior to changes brought in during the pandemic, customer services teams were seeing around 3,000 people a month face-to-face.  Today that figure has fallen to around 10 a month. 

Recent improvements to the council’s website provide a range of digital services which reduce the need for face-to-face transactions. Residents who sign up for an account can manage their council tax payments, see waste collection dates and nearby planning proposals plus track any recent reports or applications.

Cllr Martin Coffin, cabinet lead on finance and innovation, said: “We’ve seen greatly increased take-up of our digital services and along with it a reduction in face-to-face appointments this year. By developing the skills of our trained advisors, we’re now able to resolve nine-out-of-ten enquiries first time.

“Streamlining our services in this way means that our customers can talk to us when they choose to and receive a much better service.”


Published: Thursday, 2nd September 2021