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Doing it online – your stories

by on September 5, 2012

We have a campaign planned this year in support of channel shift – in other words moving away from traditional routes of engagement with customers (e.g. face-to-face and phone) and using the web instead.

We’re going to be working primarily with local planning authorities on this campaign – stay tuned for more information on campaigns aimed at planning and building professionals.

We’ve got a series of articles planned on how local planning authorities are increasingly becoming paperless to save money and carbon. The first will be with you next week.

The articles will look at related strategies such as increasing use of mobile technologies like smart phones and tablet computers as well as how local authorities are encouraging applicants and customers to switch to online channels.

We’ll also be looking at what really happens in a paperless planning office – and we’ll make sure officers from the local planning authority concerned are on hand to respond to any questions from readers.

Finally, in October we’ll be running an event in Bristol with local authorities to explore how we can improve links and messaging between LPA websites and the Portal (and vice versa) to improve the user experience for our shared customers. If this works well we’ll be looking at the opportunity to run more around the country.

In the meantime, if you work at a local authority which has implemented a channel shift strategy and would like to share your story, please drop us an email or simply post a comment below.

  1. Exchange of emails with Councils is all very well, but this often takes up more time than a simple telephone call to arrange a site visit, meeting, or specific enquiry on an outstanding planning application. Why can’t people just talk to each other, and not when I make a telephone enquiry be told ‘I will send him/her an email for you ‘ when all I want is a return call and a quick chat?

    • Many times, a quick email is more efficient for both parties, as they don’t tie each other up or distract from work in progress.

      The problem with the ‘I will send him/her an email for you’ is that then the other person typically opens the email, has a read, and then does not do anything with it for a few days.

    • David (40 years hard labour permalink

      Could not agree more. In Bradford you’re lucky to receive a return phone call.
 Gone are the days when I could call in & speak to the very friendly planning 
officer who would offer me a coffee & say just amend this & I will approve the app on Friday.
 After all my clients do pay their wages

      • I thought that it was only in London Boroughs that this happened and am saddened to hear that it is elswhere!! I alo have served many years hard labour both in local goverment( in the public service days) and then 30 years in private practice

  2. As for “going paperless”, why do some (all?) planning depts print out the plans submitted via the portal, and then scan them back in, and put the faint blurry scanned copy online for viewing?

    Surely it can’t be so as to stamp them, as there is electronic stamping available nowadays!

  3. The great advantage of emails are that they don’t require both parties to be there at the same time. Also they don’t require people to wait in a physical queue or a telephone queue.

    Royal Mail letters also have these advantages but they take longer to write, require use of paper, and take much longer to get to their destination. Organisations insisting on the use of letters (such as solicitors’ offices) or telephone calls (such as banks or some stockbrokers) are much less efficient.

    The other problem with face to face or telephone calls — people are less likely to be economical with truth if they are writing a letter or email.

    A slogan for email: “Queue the message, not the people.”

  4. online communication is good as an aditional tool not as the only tool. Clarity of points are usualy better done face to face or by phone, if you use exclusively electronic conversations it will undoutably through up more problems than it saves – my opinion anyway having delt with this in other areas.

    • Have you read

      I would recommend that if you must have a telephone or face discussion, it should be followed up by an email or letter containing a brief “what we agreed” summary.

      • are you saying planning officers and officials lie!!!!!! I seldom take notice of socalled statistical surveys -they do lie. They look for the point they want to prove and then base the questioning to give that result. But I do take your point

      • No more than anyone else. And to the original New Scientist article, I would add the thought that sometimes people hear what they want to hear, whereas if it is written down and they read it more than once, then they may eventually get what the writer intended.

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