Change doesn't have to be big

One of the things I've been doing this year is improving Hertfordshire's fault reporting system. The changes have been subtle rather than really big.

The main landing page has seen the most changes. Users essentially have two options here- they can log a fault or they can check the progress of a reported fault.

At the beginning of the year the 'check a fault' page link was too prominent and some users would click it by mistake. We changed that. We wanted users to get an idea of what would happen at the start of the process by means of a brief introduction. We've done that but there is still scope to explain the limited resources that we have.

Socitm gave some pointers and we reacted to that, changing 'log a new fault' to 'report a new fault'. Recently we saw some govmetric comments that users couldn't find the 'report a new fault' link (it was at the top of the page) so that was changed to a clearer 'Start now to report a new fault'. Since we did that there have been no issues.

Some changes were for SEO: keywords such as Hertfordshire, potholes, street lights, St Albans, Watford, Stevenage now appear on the page.

Some are more subtle:

The first paragraph is 'You can report faults ..'. third is 'You will get a reference....'. The second started 'your' but now starts 'We'. Here it is:
We take action according to the priority of the issue. Your request will automatically be sent to the appropriate team to decide the best way of resolving the problem.

This is clearer- the strongest action is first, it reinforces the relationship from customer to HCC and helps to manage expectations.

This week we changed a supporting page 'About fault reporting'. We changed the structure- now the top is about competing priorities and we have strengthened links to the rules we follow (safety manual) and our programme for schemes of work.

On the system itself we have used user data to improve our keyword smartphrase search- by including terms that people actually search for and linking them to faults.

These are not major changes- but the approach is to keep looking at data, keep making tweaks to improve things, even if itis just wording, as it all helps improve the customer experience.

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