Northamptonshire County Council is spending £12,000 on a live chat function for its website, a move it says will benefit taxpayers.
The authority said the function, which is similar to the service offered by the likes of BT and Sky, will enable it to help people with queries without the need for a telephone call.
The scheme is set to go live on April 1 for an initial trial period of three months, which could be extended to 12 months if it is a success.
County council documents outlining the plan said: “There is a requirement to ensure the website enables customers to help themselves where possible to reduce costs and ensure we have multiple access channels available for longer.
“At present if a customer cannot find what they are looking for on the website, or the function they need doesn’t work, they have to call in, meaning a more expensive transaction.
“Live chat will allow the customer to stay on their chosen access channel and connect live with an advisor in the customer service centre to seek support.
“The customer service advisors will be able to handle more than one chat at a time, increasing productivity.”
Sky has said the use of such systems has helped increase sales and improve customer service.
In an interview with www.econsultancy.com, Sky’s Wendy Schratz said: “The aim was to take advantage of what online was capable of, so customers would see it as a viable alternative to using the call centre.
“It fills a need where customers either want some extra personal help and support or just some emotional reassurance knowing they’re talking to a real person.”
For more information go to www.sourcenorthamptonshire.co.uk and search for the county council.