12 Jan, 2022
By adopting a citizen-centric experience, the UK’s local governments aim to improve people’s lives by embracing digital transformation and innovation. This will enable them to meet rising citizen demands for government interaction while delivering better services at a lower cost.
The citizen-centric experience imperative for public sector
In today’s digitally connected, on-the-go, and mobile-first world, citizens expect to access its central and local government’s digital services round-the-clock no matter where they are. Naturally, this expectation applies to every aspect of their lives, including the government’s interactions with county citizens. Counties and local governments are under tremendous pressure to adapt and change how they deliver services to citizens and make it more accessible and convenient by offering the consumer-grade experience that citizens typically encounter with digital banking and e-commerce portals.
However, counties and local governments have different responsibilities when compared to commercial organisations, and they should consider the following key transformation drivers as a catalyst for digital transformation in service delivery:
Apart from the social benefits of digital service delivery, unleashing the digital capabilities of an improved, unified digital service delivery model can generate significant savings for counties and local governments. It also represents a digital era of citizen-centric experience.
Business processes should be straightforward, transparent, and efficient, where digital self-service, social collaboration, and personalised citizen services are the new normal for citizens in counties and local governments. Mobile devices, social media, and other technological innovations raise citizens’ expectations for services. As users, citizens have become used to one-stop shopping and rapid and convenient digital services. In parallel, citizens and taxpayers expect similar digital information access and speed of service from counties and local governments.
Today’s digitally hyper-literate citizens expect counties and local government services to be made available across all channels whenever they need them. From simple processes like the electronic submission of photographs to renewing a driving license or passport to receiving assistance as a caregiver or as someone unemployed, there is a growing need and demand from citizens to replace in-person interactions with virtual engagements. This will further simplify and improve the citizen-centric experience eliminating complex, compliance-heavy interactions and local government services.
A major shift is underway
- Sense of involvement: a “voice” within the citizen community.
- Preferred channels: mobile, online, any device, and self-service.
- Simplified government services.
- Predictive capabilities.
- Real-time experiences.
- Social media engagement.
Citizens expect personalised and predictive services based on life events or important dates for real-time decisions and government services. For example, a reminder to renew a parking permit, a prompt for a tax payment deadline, or a notification reminder that it’s time to register their child for school. Retailers and other commercial organisations are already using data-driven insights to improve the citizen-centric experience. This approach can be applied in government service delivery, too. This is arguably substantially more complex than Amazon’s famous “other people also bought” concept in retail. Still, just as this changed the retail industry landscape, the “others benefited from” or “we believe you may benefit from” concept would be most welcome in government service delivery. This citizen-centric experience imperative is motivating UK’s counties and local governments to rethink how they relate to and connect with citizens. It drives the delivery of a more responsive experience that is available through the digital channels today’s citizens prefer.
Essentially, citizens today prefer to engage, interact, collaborate, and transact using self-service websites, social media, and mobile apps and devices.
Key drivers for digital transformation in counties and local government
While serving citizens better and keeping them away from cyber risks are essential aspects of the digital transformation storyboard, counties and local governments are also under significant budgetary pressure to do “more with less.” The cost-saving potential of an improved m-government (mobile government) is substantial. The Boston Consulting Group highlights a potential global public administration saving of $50 billion per year by 2021. Meanwhile, a recent GOSS Interactive survey found public sector digital self-service systems in the UK are expected to grow by 310%, saving taxpayers around £8.74 million by 2021. According to UK Cabinet Office estimates, a digital transaction is generally 20 times cheaper than one by phone, 30 times more affordable than a postal transaction, and 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.
The end-to-end digitalisation and automation of core processes represent a significant value optimisation opportunity for public services organisations. Indeed, government transformation initiatives are being driven by a universal desire to create a public sector that is:
A consumer-grade experience begins with a standardised citizen-centric engagement platform that makes consistent transactions and information delivery possible, regardless of which channel or device citizens use.
Embracing multiple touchpoints
According to Forrester Research, improving the citizen-centric experience is a number one priority for 68% of counties and local governments. McKinsey Center for Government has identified a marked disparity between consumer perceptions of the citizen service experience they receive from the government compared to private sector organisations, such as banks and e-commerce companies. Boosting citizen satisfaction (C-SAT) scores means going beyond the current e-government online initiatives to a truly holistic citizen-centric digital immersive strategy that is channel-agnostic (omnichannel). This can be represented as a critical challenge for counties and local governments, which typically are burdened by multiple backend office systems and processes, numerous channel-specific applications, and siloed IT infrastructures. These challenges hinder agencies in the provision of a compelling omnichannel citizen-centric experience.
Citizens expect their interactions with agencies to be adequately recorded to prevent them from providing the same information each time they have an interaction. If they are not properly recorded, each subsequent interaction can become more time-consuming and frustrating. Agents within the call centre should have visibility into interaction records performed by a citizen online, and the online channel should also be aware of call centre interactions. Where service delivery interactions involve multiple agencies, the pertinent information from interaction with “Agency A” should be available to “Agency B” to avoid unnecessary and tedious repetition. It is reasonable for today’s citizens to expect a seamless experience with agencies regardless of device or interaction touchpoint. They expect counties and local governments to know who they are and have all their previous interaction history – web, mobile, e-mail, call centre, or social – available whenever they interact. In summary, citizens desire a single view of government and expect the government to have a single view of them. When this happens, it will lead to the following benefits:
The benefits of omnichannel citizen-centric engagement
The benefits of moving to omnichannel citizen-centric engagement are wide-ranging. For citizens, it means the ability to map their self-service journeys while initiating and completing transactions through their channel of choice. That means having the ability to start in one channel (such as online or mobile) and switch channels to a call centre, kiosk or in-person to complete a transaction if they so wish. Meanwhile, counties and local governments gain 360-degree visibility of what citizens are doing at any given time and can anticipate what they may do next by using predictive modelling. These capabilities make it possible to present relevant and personalised content and “next-best-action” recommendations to citizens in real-time. This helps boost citizen satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
With an omnichannel integrated platform in place, information, news, and service catalogues can be consolidated and centrally managed to give citizens optimised experiences across touchpoints and channels. Brochures and forms can be created and integrated with streamlined workflows to deliver proper documentation at the right time. Citizens are provided with 24x7 streamlined access to the information they need, with intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces that guide them to the details they are looking for. By adopting an omnichannel platform approach, government organisations also eliminate the connectivity cost and complexity involved in supporting multiple fronts- and back-office systems, call centres, apps, websites, and development platforms. Everything works homogenously, delivering a single unified view of citizens and supporting a streamlined two-way dialogue. Even better, it now becomes easy to scale up touchpoints, and channel offers with minimal risk or cost. This is critical for counties and local governments looking to improve efficiencies by boosting digital service delivery capabilities, especially when connecting with citizens through mobile devices.
Making the move from E-Gov to M-Gov
Mobile technologies enable greater outreach and opportunities for citizen-centric experience, making it possible to extend service delivery to a large demographic, including traditionally difficult to reach groups or communities. However, responding to mass demand for mobile or m-services requires counties and local governments to create device-sensitive websites and applications that deliver a high-quality mobile online experience for citizens, suppliers, local businesses, and partners. This includes the capability to incorporate innovations, such as location-based services that help improve the daily lives of citizens. Whether it is distributing information using SMS tools or providing m-services that allow citizens to transact, make payments, submit inquiries, and participate in real-time information sharing, counties and local governments must embrace the opportunity to broaden their reach and pursue an m-government agenda.
Utilising Data-driven Insights
Counties and local governments are often data-rich but information poor. However, today’s advanced digital engagement platforms allow organisations to gain mastery over the data that is so often being collected and stored multiple times over in different systems. By leveraging this data, counties and local governments can better anticipate citizen needs and have more meaningful and informed conversations. By using data analytics, they can support cross-agency stakeholders with the insights they need to make better decisions – whether it’s improving operational performance or engaging in more effective policymaking. Integrating all this core data enables enhanced omnichannel service delivery at a lower cost and also supports a joined-up approach to minimise organisational overlaps.
By leveraging this data, counties and local governments can better anticipate citizen needs and have more meaningful and informed conversations. By using data analytics, they can support cross-agency stakeholders with the insights they need to make better decisions – whether it’s improving performance or more effective policymaking.
Journey to a Citizen-centric Experience
Digital service delivery is not a trivial undertaking. Counties and local governments should evolve incrementally, delivering improvements with each increment that, in the aggregate, substantially improves the citizen-centric experience - an approach where agencies scale new functionality and capabilities as digital maturity increases. The key to this journey is acknowledging that what can be achieved will be different for every organisation based on internal digital maturity. This table highlights key areas that support digital transformation and what the experience for each maturity level will look like.
This helps us to understand that while digital services themselves and the push towards data-driven, predictive services are worthwhile and essential, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to assure complete transparency, putting the control of one’s personal data into the hands of the user – allowing simple and easy opt-in and opt-out, with clear decision points where data can be shared and for what purposes. Positive outcomes will increase the willingness of people to share more.