Citizens Advice is a safety net for UK citizens, staffed by experts in a wide range of subjects related to law, benefits, money and consumer rights. Each bureau is publicly funded but independently run, although they are not in competition with each other; they are designed to reflect local needs.
Bolton CAB was facing problems with the amount of demand for its services. The recession had put more citizens into financial difficulty, but the service itself was also having its funding cut. In short, they needed to help more people but had less resources to do it.
The bureau was aware that a lot of its time was spent dealing with large numbers of routine queries which although being easily answered, were cumulatively adding up to more than the sum of their parts. Although they did have a presence on the major media, they were hardly used for meaningful interaction.
They turned to PushON to come up with a social media solution.
What We Did
PushON used its social media specialist team to design a Twitter strategy that would work with the potentially sensitive issues raised to the staff. As many of the CAB staff had no presence on social media, a full implementation was set in train, which included setting up the accounts and training the appropriate staff in dealing with queries in a way that best suited the bureaux and the citizens.
PushON collaborated with UX specialists Sigma to ensure the new bureaux sites were able to monitor and improve interaction and engagement between staff and citizens on social media.
The launch was pushed through digital and press channels to inform local citizens of the new way of contacting Citizens Advice. This led to good awareness, thus enhancing the offering straight away.
A relationship register was researched and built up that made connections with influential people (e.g. councillors, MPs) and bodies (councils, societies) in the Bolton area. This would make it easier for them to refer members of the public to Citizens Advice.
As soon as the public became aware of the CAB’s social media presence, many took to it as their first option. This didn’t need a lot of persuasion – in the modern digital sphere, social media is the preferred means of getting in touch with friends, family, businesses and other organizations.
The Bolton staff were trained to a level whereby they had enough expertise train ten other branches around Greater Manchester. This will no doubt spread nationwide as the concept is proved to the satisfaction of other branches.
The move to social has been a complete success. Issues for which citizens would once have queued for lengthy periods before being given a routine answer are now dealt with by the social media team – often it’s simply a case of referring a citizen to a web page where they can self-help.
Throughout Greater Manchester, the CAB saw a 700% increase in the number of people looking to access advice through Facebook over the first three months post-intervention. In addition to this, the Twitter follower base has grown by 25% and Facebook grown by 43% over the same period.