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Digital registration appointment booking

Mid Ulster District CouncilHow Mid Ulster transformed their registration service for users and staff by automating the booking process for registration appointments.


Mid Ulster District Council's registration team register nearly 2000 births each year. Their previous process was manual and time consuming for both staff and new parents alike. Starting in Oct 2022, Tailwind Digital ran a project to review how citizens made appointments to register their child's birth. With the goal of creating a 24/7 online booking service, with a first class mobile experience, Tailwind Digital worked alongside a multi-disciplinary team of Mid Ulster staff, to simplify the process of booking an appointment and giving information to the council.

Launched in March 2023 the system was the first customer facing service built using the principles and themes from their Digital Transformation Strategy, recognising that a service designed around user needs would be cheaper to run. This business case is based on the data available at Mid Ulster District Council in Jan 2024.

The solution

Benefit summary 

The introduction of an online booking system for registration appointments has had a wide range of impacts. Simplifying processes, automating tasks, reducing both the workload and stress levels of registration staff, all while offering customers a modern, mobile friendly, digital solution in keeping with the expectations of the digital native generation.

Citizen and Community Benefits 

These are benefits to the authority’s customers and the broader community. Many of these benefits don’t affect the council’s bottom line directly and instead help illustrate the impact on user experience.

Improved customer service

By using an online booking solution for registration appointments, the service to customers is improved in the following ways:-

  • Faster response times. Customers are able to book a birth registration appointment within 10 mins, including submitting all their personal details and the details of the baby

  • 24/7 access. Customers can access the service when it suits them, 37% of bookings at MUDC were made out of hours

  • Simple personalised form. The online form is dynamic and routes the customer according to their answers, the wording is always appropriate to the user.

  • Alerts only where necessary. Because the form is dynamic, we can show additional information in the cases where the personal circumstances of the parents is less common, while keeping the form as simple as possible for all customers.

  • Address lookup and distance/time calculation. A geographical bias address search and a distance calculation step puts the user in control. By showing the choice of offices available and the travel distance and time, the customer is given all the information they need to decide about which office to visit.

  • Clear availability. The availability visualiser integrated into the website allows customers to quickly see where and when they can book an appointment without needing to call or email the registration team.

  • Book at a time that suits. Customers have a free choice of when they want to book.

  • Automatic confirmation. Once an appointment has been made the system automatically sends the user an email with all the appointment details in it. 

  • Automatic reminders. Customer receives an email and SMS 24 hours before their appointment reminding them about the time, location, and what to bring with them.

  • No-contact rearrangement. Customers can use a link at the bottom of the email to re arrange their appointment without having to contact the registration office. This automatically changes the appointment in the registrars’ diaries.

Council reputation

Citizens’ expectations for how they should be able to interact with the services they need have never been higher. For all their daily needs, from banking to shopping, from booking a flight to ordering a takeaway, the digital native generation reach for their mobile phone as their primary device.

For many people the first time they interact with their local authority is when they go through a key life event like getting married or starting a family. If that first impression is a slick, modern, mobile, digital solution that meets their expectations, that will have a positive impact on the council’s reputation.

Non-cashable Benefits

Improved data quality

Because the online form ensures that the correct data is submitted for each question, and the data is passed directly to the registration team, the job of creating the registrations and entering data into the NIROS system is made much easier. This reduces the need to contact customers to check on details, and removes difficulties related to handwriting recognition and understanding text in photographs of paper forms.

Staff satisfaction

The anecdotal evidence from registration staff at MUDC is that the online booking system has had a huge impact on their job satisfaction and removed many stressful elements from the job. They are no longer overwhelmed by the number of enquiries, answer machine messages and phone calls. They can respond far more effectively to the busy times of the year, and more of their energy is spent serving customers directly rather than on endless administration. Better staff satisfaction leads to better staff retention.

Reduction in calendar management

The registration team at MUDC indicate that less of their time is spent managing their own calendars and creating appointments for customer. Much of that activity is now automated.

Cashable Benefits

Areas where there has been a measurable impact on the service and the costs of running it.

Reduction in phone calls

Prior to the introduction of the online booking system the webpage about registering a birth was already very popular, however customers were directed to shift channels to the phone. Calls related to registering a birth almost completely disappeared when the online process went live at MUDC.

The reception staff who took many of the calls reported that the drop in calls about birth registration was so dramatic that they referred an incident to ICT to check the phones were routed correctly.

Using the good data on the number of calls in the three registration offices we can see in the first 10 months after the launch of the first registration booking form (Mar-Dec 2023), there was an over 30% reduction in the number of phone calls received compared to the previous year. Extrapolating this is over 2800 incoming calls avoided annually. For outgoing calls, a reduction of over 35% was achieved compared to the same period the year before. Extrapolating this is over 2900 outgoing calls avoided. While the average call takes just over 3 mins, if we include the time for follow up activities and the interruption effect, we can count each phone call as 10 minutes. The reduction in calls thus equates to a saving of approximately 950hrs of staff time annually.

For outgoing phone calls there is also the reduction in the cost of making the phone calls.

Reduction in emails

Though there was a marked decrease in emails related to birth registration when the online booking form launched, there was an even greater decrease when the marriage enquiry form was launched. From our research there were a great number of email enquiries that couldn’t be dealt with in a single response. Couples seem keen to clarify and check every detail, which can often be difficult as the unique circumstances of each couple mean that advice needs to be tailored and blanket pre- prepared responses can’t be used. In one case a marriage related email exchange contained a chain of 19 emails.

In the period July to December 2023 there was a 41% drop in emails received and a 34% drop in emails sent compared to the same period the year before. Extrapolating for a year we estimate approximately 2400 fewer email enquiries received and approximately 600 fewer emails sent.

Based on each email taking 5 minutes to read, and 10 minutes to respond to this represents a saving of around 300hrs of staff time annually.

Reduction in appointment preparation time

The improved data quality that the form creates, and the easy-to-use email format, means that preparation for birth appointments can be reduced to around 5 minutes per appointment. The saving from this can be calculated as:

5 Mins - Current prep time in minutes * number of appointments annually.

Reduction in appointment length

The ability to reduce appointment length and therefore increase the number of appointments each registrar can take, is created by 2 factors. Data quality and reduction in interruptions. MUDC report that the increase in data quality means that appointments are very consistent in length. Most of the time customers are in and out in less than 10 minutes. Appointments where large number of clarifications are required are extremely rare now. Due to the number of interruptions from emails and phone calls, registrars at MUDC have previously been very reluctant to reduce the length of appointment because they were consistently using the gaps between appointments to manage their workload, get back to emails, respond to voicemails and make phone calls to arrange appointments.

With much of that work removed from the system MUDC are now able to consider reducing the length of their appointments.

Reducing birth appointments length from 30 mins to 15 would save 500hrs of staff time based on 2000 birth appointments annually.


The improvements made to the registration service in Mid Ulster have transformed the user experience for new parents in the area, and reduce the demands on overstretched council colleagues, allowing registrars to spend more of their time focusing on providing a personal service to the people of Mid Ulster.

The solution is applicable to any registration service in Northern Ireland and could be adopted or modified for other councils in the UK. 

For more information about this service please contact us to find out more


The figures in this report is an analysis of the phone and email volumes coming into the registration service between 7th March 2023 and 7th Jan 2024, and comparing that data to the corresponding period between 7th March 2022 and 7th Jan 2023.