Building the Business Case for Channel Shift – Consider these Factors

23rd Jul, 2015
Read time: 3 minutes

Building a business case to make an investment in further public sector channel shift projects (local government or housing) is more than considering the total financial investment.

During a recent Public Sector Customer Service Forum (PSCSF) workshop in Glasgow, delegates considered aspects that are important to long-term project success and suggested from their experience that focusing on the following factors would be helpful to any team:

Goals of the channel shift project

Objectives will include clear reasons and a defined purpose of the project and should outline the expected channel shift / digital achievements. Demonstrating a clear link between the goals and the value of the project makes the project attractive to stakeholders. Effective objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.) and define the results expected as a direct consequence of the project's completion.

Once the project plan is complete and the investment is in place, delegates suggested a review of these goals to ensure that the project was indeed focused on effective delivery. Any 'project creep' (extending the project beyond its scope) and changing circumstances should be specifically identified so that mitigating actions can be taken prior to the start.

Social return on investment

Consider how reengineering the process would benefit the organisation and establish any value exchange that will motivate customers to make this change. A critical view of Quality and Equality (QEIA) will assess the impact of any change as it relates to for example safety, effectiveness, experience and the Equality Act 2010. Identifying the 'what is in it' (benefit) for the 'resident' in an easy to understand way will be useful to support marketing of the service.

Customer need

Precisely answering a customer need is essential to initial success and sustained change. Will the new customer experience meet the need? And secondly, how will it result in a continual engagement strategy that motivates customers to both make the change and maintain a new behaviour in the new channel? Customers that test the channel and revert, defeat the project's success, for example a move to self-service followed by regression to agent by telephone.


  • Total cost of project (outlay) - Investigate comprehensive detail of all costs such as hardware, software, licencing, training, connectivity, third party IT or support requirements and changes to office accommodation
  • Cost of maintenance (ongoing) - What are the anticipated ongoing costs? Phased projects are more common and need to be anticipated and budgeted.
  • Costs from risks - Understand time scales and deliverables, what risks might impact successful change and how can these be mitigated? Is a budget required to cover any potential downside?
  • Staffing utilisation and contract obligations – Are there any mandatory contracts or requirements that will affect the business case? Should these be considered as risks to be mitigated? How will the project affect staff utilisation and do you need to reconsider roles and responsibilities?
  • Adoption costs - Changing customer and external stakeholder behaviour requires specific and relevant communication. Have the costs to market the change in service been provided?
  • Internal adoption costs - Managing internal expectations, how do you capture their hearts and minds before you make the change? What training will be required for users, managers and other stakeholders? For change to be effective, it needs to be implemented at all levels and embedded in the culture of the organisation. Keeping colleagues engaged means you need to understand what motivates them. Southwest provided guidelines on meeting this complex challenge and suggest a clear, shared vision provides the fastest chance of success.

Business intelligence and benefits

Can the team measure the change, or is there the ability to measure the current delivery of a project against its business case? What are the anticipated benefits, tangible and intangible? How can the Social ROI be quantifiably measured and reported?

Management expectations

Meeting management expectations is easier when you develop and update a timeline of the anticipated return. At start-up, it is likely that services will be duplicated to enable the transition, and there is a need to balance these short-term costs with the increase in customer satisfaction. Resources need to be allocated, as instead of an immediate result the total impact will be gradual.


The 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' cycle proposed by Deming is essential in ensuring your project continues to retain its relevance and save costs while delivering a great customer experience.

Channel shift projects are complex, and need you to consider business benefit and customer outcome. We provide a series of alternative decision frameworks for you to use on a 'pick and mix' basis to suit your circumstances.

Perhaps you will consider the tools in your tool kit, to map the customer journey, consider efficiency and process redesign.

Alternatively you may evaluate transactions and choose channels while considering 'transaction costs versus a customer's need for reassurance' or you may ensure long term success by ensuring that projects are aligned to the 'metrics that matter' to your organisation.

Whatever your choices, we wish you every success and would be pleased to assist you with your journey to customer engagement.

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