Yarra Ranges makes the move to a customer centric website

Yarra Ranges Council was interested in improving their online services and creating more self-service opportunities.

Housing content for a broad range of users including residents, local business owners and tourists, YRC’s website had over 1000 content pages, making it difficult to manage and keep up to date. To make things more difficult, Yarra Ranges had a decentralised publishing model where any staff that wanted to, could become an author, leading to over 150 content authors being able to add content to the site.

Yarra Ranges had been thinking for some time about making improvements to their website so when Council changed management it was the perfect opportunity for an entire redesign. YRC’s new management was particularly interested in improving Council’s online services and creating more self-service opportunities for customers, pushing for a shift to more customer focus in the organisation. 

Yarra Ranges site - Home page screen shot

A new direction

Instead of just focusing on a superficial redesign, Seamless adopted a user centric, task focused philosophy for the new Yarra Ranges site, restructuring the entire site around the end users’ tasks, rather than the marketing priorities of Councils various business units. This involved a huge change in the governance structure of the website, extensive content repurposing and removing a large amount unnecessary information and documents.

Recognising that users come to council websites to perform a specific task or fulfil a specific need, Seamless helped Yarra Ranges understand what their website’s top tasks are by analysing their Google Analytics, and how to use these as the organising principle for the redesign. With this new philosophy in mind, Yarra Ranges implemented many different and innovative components to their website. 

Yarra Ranges site - Predictive text

A simpler, smarter homepage

Probably the most obvious change to the website is the lack of a banner image on the homepage. Instead, Seamless positioned the nine most popular tasks at the top of the homepage, with council promotional content such as events and news falling into the background, whilst still being easily accessible via a tabs interface.

Predictive search became the centre of the site browsing experience. Predictive search allows residents to see suggested pages and services as they are entering their search query, helping them find the information they are after directly from the homepage.

The site is also optimised for mobile devices, giving customers the flexibility to view the content in full on any device. The site is not only optimised in form but in terms of content and functionality, which is particularly important for people needing information on the move. 

Yarra Ranges site - My Neighbourhood screen shot

A focus on self-service

Another big goal for Yarra Ranges was to provide users with more self-service opportunities, which required a lot of automated processes to happen behind the scenes to display information on the website or interact with the user online.

For example, Seamless built a new section on the site called ‘My Neighbourhood’ where users can enter their address and see what’s going on around them displayed as pins on a Google map. Users can see events in their region, councillors’ information, burning off restrictions and, thanks to a bridge with Yarra Ranges’ property system, their exact garbage collection date.

Seamless helped Yarra Ranges integrate the website with their internal Customer Request Management (CRM) system to allow users to track their requests online. Customers can enter their request number and a report is automatically generated from the CRM and displayed on the website, telling customers the status of their request, where’s at, and what the next steps are. By empowering residents to easily access this information online anytime, Yarra Ranges was able to reduce calls and emails to its customer service centre.

A platform for growth

Feedback from internal and external stakeholders has been very positive. In particular they have received many positive comments on the design and the ease of use of the site, how easy and quick it is to find information, and how useful the website has become for the community.

Moreover, Yarra Ranges is constantly looking at their analytics and have seen quite a jump in traffic on their online consultations and ‘My neighbourhood’ function which they have deemed a success in reaching their objectives. As Councillor Jim Child from Yarra Ranges’ O'Shannassy Ward wrote on his twitter recently, “Yarra Ranges Council’s new website walks the talk!”

Download the Yarra Ranges Council case study