Advice Issue Codes – the tags we use to categorise every issue that Citizens Advice deals with – are challenging. They’re also known as AICs and have 3 levels. Level 1 is a broad bucket with categories such as housing, level 2 gets a bit more specific (e.g. environmental & neighbour issues) and level 3 gets to the heart of the matter (e.g. boundary disputes).
Level 3 alone has 1,586 codes. They’re a pain to find unless you have years of experience to draw upon, and it takes time to add them to every case. Sometimes you just can’t find the one you need, and the issue ends up categorised as “Other: Other: Other”.
However, the amount of categories mean that you can produce reports on almost every topic you can think of.
I’m going to set some expectations around AICs:
a.) Casebook isn’t going to abolish them
b.) Even though there are so many, we’re not even going to prune the number of them
Building Casebook, at the same time as rethinking AICs, would be like fighting a war on 2 fronts. Rather than tackle the AIC problem head on, we’re coming at it sideways.
How you currently add AICs
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with how you add AICs in Petra. You navigate through the classification levels, selecting Level 1, which then shows you the Level 2s that are associated with it. When you select the right Level 2, the Level 3s are made available. It’s straightforward. A little time-consuming but straightforward. Experienced advisers know where the AICs are hiding and can quite quickly navigate through the 3 clicks to get the level 3 they need. Novice advisers browse through each level looking for phrases that make sense, which takes a bit longer.
While straightforward, it takes too long to add the most popular codes. They should be readily available with one click.
How long it takes
The code DIS27E is ‘Discrimination – Hate: Subculture – Damage to property’. It was added once in 2015 and it takes around 6 clicks to find and add it.
The code BEN99A is ‘Benefits & tax credits – Other benefits issues – General benefit entitlement’. It was added 93,539 times in 2015, which took 561,000 individual clicks in Petra.
Here’s some napkin maths:
In 2015, we had 4,646,986 AICs added to Petra cases (approximately 28 million clicks). If Casebook can save advisers just 2 seconds per AIC entry, then we’ll have saved 2,581 hours across the network. That’s a full year of 7 to 8 hour days.
Something that was familiar and straightforward in Petra is suddenly worth looking at again.
Firstly, we thought you should be able to search for and select the relevant level 3 AIC, and have it inherit the level 1 and 2 based on your selection. Then, we thought we’d make it easier for you if you spend a lot of time working on the same categories of problem (it’ll only take you 1 click to get to them).
Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Quick selection module
– your most recently used codes at the bottom
– your favourites (in the second tab at the bottom)
– the most used in your local office (the ‘bureau trends’ tab)
– the most used codes nationally (‘national trends’)
– Codes that are most often related to the one you’ve selected (in the box on the right)
You’ll have a quick select area showing your most recent codes, your favourites, and the most used in your local office, or nationally. On the right hand side is a box suggesting AICs that are often associated with the one you have selected. If you can’t find your code on this screen, then you can always search or browse for the right one by pressing the find button.
Search for an AIC
On this screen you can search for an AIC, or just type something that makes sense to you, for example ‘PIP’. We’ll try to return the right AIC. You can also browse through the classification levels, if you prefer.
We actually built a working prototype of this screen and tested it with a number of advisers from different local offices. It seemed to go down quite well, although it takes a bit of getting used to. We’ve got a few improvements to make based on the feedback we received.
Once we make those changes, we can let you all have a try.
As ever, feedback is very welcome.
Product Lead, Citizens Advice Digital