Transforming Local Government Service Delivery Through Customer Experience
“There’s no such thing as digital strategy anymore. It’s all just strategy.”
That’s how Mike MacAuley, our General Manager for UK and Ireland, began his recent address at Share Digital 2017. It’s a simple reality, but one that many public sector organisations are yet to embrace. The public sector is the world’s largest service provider, and their target market is demanding new ways to engage. It’s time to act.
By 2019 the UK will be home to over 17 million Millennials, and by that time the Generation Z population will also be joining the workforce. These two generations in particular will engage with government bodies more regularly as they mature — and they’ll expect to do so via speedy, personalised solutions that are accessible through a wide range of channels.
How Technology is Transforming and Unifying Customer Experiences
Some local authorities have begun their digital transformation journey with hopes of offering a more powerful and more relevant customer experience. There’s no lack of success stories that prove digital transformation is doable.
Mike’s presentation also encompassed the driving force behind why local governments are beginning to invest more heavily in this strategic shift: “Customer experience is more than a transaction. It’s the perception customers have of the brand — in this case, the local government body. It’s about relationships, not transactions. Because the need for trust in the public sector is so big, delivering seamless customer experiences has never been so vital.”
We know that digital transformation is possible, and organisations still on that journey (or even just starting out) have the advantage of learning from those who have gone before. The reasons for and foundations of digital government are clear:
Automation and Self-Service
First and foremost, a great customer experience gives the customer the freedom to govern their own journey. Instead of calling or physically visiting an office, a powerful digital experience platform can empower the customer to find information, pay bills, and interact with customer support staff in a more efficient way for both parties.
Transforming Business Processes
A digital strategy addresses aged business processes. With a fully fledged CMS backing your digital experience platform, local governments can move away from inefficient paper-based offices. Silos between departments are also bridged thanks to improved document management, calendars, workflows and collaboration tools.
Automation, self-service and a paperless office are great time savers — and they’re also great cost savers. Automating the customer journey means staff are released to meet other needs, and less investment has to go into the resources needed to keep up with data management.
The Required Technology Traits
Once the ‘Why’ behind digital transformation has been taken onboard, the ‘How’ needs to be explored. What kind of technology can make all of the above benefits a reality?
At the very least, the right platform should offer full content management system (CMS) functionality, document management, workflow management as well as the tools for mobile app development.
But those are just the starting point. To truly transform traditional local government offices into Government as a Service (GaaS) hubs, here are three key technology traits to look for when selecting your next digital experience platform (DXP):
1. Omnichannel Support
The right digital experience platform will be capable of omnichannel communication and transactions. That means customers will be able to access government portals from desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets and any other device that emerges. More than that, the experience needs to be unified and consistent throughout to create a seamless user journey.
2. Personalisation Features
When citizens and businesses do engage with governmental systems — no matter the device — they need to be served content on a personalised basis. That means the DXP should remember each user’s name, details and preferences in order to deliver enjoyable journeys that feel tailored, not manufactured.
To truly unify customer experiences, the DXP technology in question must integrate with legacy systems — not to mention any new channels and apps that emerge in coming years.
That’s where microservice architecture comes into play. Essentially, it entails developing software applications as a suite of independently deployable, small, modular services in which each service runs a unique process and communicates through a well-defined, lightweight mechanism to serve a business goal. It’s the best of both worlds - maximising the value of legacy investment whilst preparing your organisation for future change and innovation.
Case Study: Bristol City Council
Bristol City Council is a leading local authority that has embraced the evolution of digital customer experiences.
Gavin Beckett, Chief Enterprise Architect, referred in an interview to some of the benefits of transforming their customer experiences: “We can now support an end-to-end customer journey, and the customer doesn’t have to phone up or visit. Staff can then get insights into that journey across all channels [and] that flow of integration and automation.”
Bristol City Council also attended Share Digital 2017. During a roundtable discussion they shared an experience that led them to the inevitable conclusion that digital customer services are needed now more than ever. Service Delivery Manager Tracy Dodds recalled a story that took place during the council’s public survey process. An elderly woman presented an overflowing stack of letters regarding an unpaid bill, most of which were unopened. That pile of papers convinced the council they needed to offer citizens a service that didn’t overwhelm them in a time when they were the most vulnerable.
Dodds concluded the story with something profound: “People don’t appear in our services — our services appear in their lives.”
A New Era of Local Government Engagement
To be in a position to face an omnichannel future, local authorities must first embrace the reality of digital strategy as the only strategy — and then set their wheels in motion toward technology that can shoulder the weight of this new and rapidly evolving digital era.
Do you want to deliver more powerful, personal and cost-effective customer experiences to your citizens and businesses? Check out the free Liferay whitepaper, Four Strategies to Transform Your Customer Experience.