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Darlington Borough Council

The Borough of Darlington is a unitary authority and borough in County Durham, England, and has a population of more than 100,000 people. Darlington Borough Council is responsible for managing a wide range of services for its citizens, including education, transport, planning, social care, housing, libraries, public leisure facilities, public safety and waste management, to name just a few.

In order to deliver its services effectively, a number of contact channels are available to local citizens and businesses so they can discuss questions, order services or make payments via their preferred method – whether that’s face-to-face, online, via email or over the phone.

We spoke to Andrew Hazlett, Systems & Process Officer, and Katie Ellison, Systems Administrator, to discuss the evolution of its contact centre in efficiently handling citizen’s enquiries and payments.

PCI Compliance for the public sector

“As an public-facing organisation, it is imperative that the council offers a choice of communication channels that consumers can use to access the services they need” confirms Katie Ellison, Systems Administrator.

“Our contact centre is the first point of contact for all of our services; our contact centre team handles all enquiries or puts callers in touch with specialist teams. This can be everything from setting up garden waste collection subscriptions to paying parking fines; calls are very varied.

“Everyone in our contact centre is enabled to take payments – around 160 people in all – although payments for our leisure services such as the Darlington Hippodrome and the Dolphin Leisure Centre are currently handled separately. Our long-term ambition is to centralise all payments into one system to not only deliver a consistent experience, but to streamline how we manage processes and importantly our security and compliance requirements.”

Andrew Hazlett, Systems & Process Officer, “While our preference for payment transactions is online self service, we still have a requirement for being able to manage transactions over the phone, particularly for people who are digitally excluded. As such, a large part of my role is to ensure that the council is adhering to the very latest compliance guidance from a payment and data security perspective, across all channels.”

Having undertaken an exercise to self-certify the council’s PCI DSS compliance status, it was agreed that telephone payments needed attention. Continues Andrew: “Previously, our contact centre agents would have to manually pause telephone recordings so we didn’t capture any payment card details within call recordings but that still meant the information was exposed to our agents and infrastructure. I felt we could implement a solution that would remove the onus from our staff on pausing and resuming calls and stop the sensitive information entering our environment.

“We worked with our payment provider, Civica, to identify a solution that would future-proof our payment process and, with previous experience of PCI Pal, we were delighted to learn of their longstanding integration and partnership with PCI Pal.”

Read the full case study to learn how PCI Pal has provided Darlington Borough Council with a solution that removes the onus from the council’s staff on pausing and resuming calls, and stops any sensitive information entering the organisation’s environment.

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