Training and Support: Optimising Technology during a Pandemic for the Digital Customer Portal (DCP)


Since Covid-19 came into our working lives we have all had to make many changes. This has included changes to the way we work and the nature in which we deliver services. Within the project team we have also had to look at new ways of delivering a consistent and improved customer experience on our new Digital Customer Portal.

New digital services such as Household Waste & Recycling Centre (HWRC) bookings and the Help Hub were the first to be introduced in response to the pandemic. We have created these new digital services rapidly whilst also incorporating any new Covid-19 regulations. In order to deliver these changes efficiently and effectively we have built a range of materials such as online videos, written guides and also held virtual group and individual training and support sessions via Microsoft Teams.

Help Hub

When creating the Help Hub, as well as the intricate detail of form design and workflow processes, we had to think about how staff would manage the service effectively once the customer had submitted the service request.  The service request would need to be assessed, processed and the correct outcomes chosen to ensure the customer received the help they required in a timely manner.

This would result in different teams processing request such as Customer Services Officers, Supervisors, Community Connectors and Engagement & Integration Officers.

These teams needed to be trained on their role within this process in DCP. Due to the pandemic we couldn’t train in person and the decision was made to train each team virtually over multiple sessions through Microsoft Teams. An instructional video was also created for the Customer Liaison team so they could watch this on demand.

Feedback was excellent and everyone stayed safe.


At the beginning of the pandemic and lockdown the HWRCs were closed. In order to reopen them in a safe manner (keeping staff safe and queues off busy roads) the decision was made to introduce a booking system to control numbers particularly as high demand was expected due to the length of closure during lockdown. The HWRC booking was built quickly and launched in line with the reopening of the sites to accommodate.

As well as being able to book an appointment online via the DCP, the customer can also telephone customer services to make a booking. Customer services were initially inundated with phone calls for customers to book their time slot. Staff members had to be drafted in from other teams within Customer Services who weren’t familiar with the system. We needed to quickly train the new staff members to take these calls. As I had helped build the form and knew the process I was asked if I could train the additional customer services staff. I used Microsoft Teams to train individuals on an ad-hoc basis and at short notice. Additionally I also provided written supporting documentation to the team manager who could use this to continue to train the staff when needed. Staff who used these sessions gave great feedback, they benefitted from 121 training whilst staying safe and as it was virtual but face to face I could talk them through the process at a pace that suited the individual.

Reaction to Customer Feedback

We received feedback through our customer panel that some customers were struggling with creating an account on DCP. I created a public facing video showing how to complete the registration process which has proved to be successful as we have now been getting less queries regarding this through the customer panel mailbox.

I have also created videos for the general public to help use elements of the DCP. When the HWRC booking forms were created and made live, we received feedback through social media that customers were having difficulty using the functionality which enabled the customer to select their preferred time slot online. In order to make this clearer I created a video for the customer to watch showing the steps that need to be taken in order to make a successful booking. The video was integrated within the form and was easily accessible and could be watched multiple times. The short video can be viewed here.

Having a training background and skills gathered in my previous job building online videos for the learning platform has proved very useful during these difficult times. My experience has taught me it is important to keep videos short, to the point, informative and engaging. Videos can be accessed anytime and are easily shared. I have found it rewarding that the video option has proven to be popular and has been used time after time for training both internal staff and customers.

Microsoft Teams has been an invaluable tool for the DCP rollout especially during lockdown. Whilst relatively new to myself and most of the staff at the beginning of lockdown, it has been adopted quickly and has proven to be a vital tool for training which has been used continually as new and existing services moved into the DCP.

I am looking forward to the next phases of the DCP.



DCP , Digital , Training

By Lindsey Roberts on 4th Feb 2021
Lindsey Roberts is an Assistant Service Designer at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.