Digital innovation and public sector aren’t two phrases you often hear together. Traditionally, local authorities have had an (often unfair) reputation for long phone queues and clunky user interfaces.
But coronavirus has put local services in the spotlight in a new way. They’re at the frontline of facilitating everything from testing and social care to financial support packages. And they’ve been quietly using practical, effective technology to step up.
Here are 3 key ways public sector bodies are using technology to cope with new requirements – and deliver a better, more efficient service.
Challenge: Data siloes | Solution: Compliant third-party technology
Strict regulatory and data protection requirements have led to rigid data siloes in the public sector. While security considerations remain paramount, these siloes make it hard to share information between departments and channels.
This is frustrating for everyone. Residents have to repeat themselves on numerous phone calls. Staff are desperate to help, but are unable to locate information or coordinate efficiently with colleagues.
The solution: add a technology layer that sits on top of legacy systems, centralising access to data. You don’t have to touch the underlying solutions, and there’s no risk or complexity associated with implementation.
The gains are immense because you finally have a compliant way for systems to talk to each other. You can have a single contact history for a resident, viewing everything from website form fills and council tax payments to calls made to different departments. Staff suddenly have the visibility they need, and residents get a service level that will surprise them.
Challenge: Overburdened staff | Solution: Automation
Not only has coronavirus forced staff to work remotely (with the frustrating IT limitations that brings), but they’ve also been busy with their larger workloads. Councils need better ways of using finite resources, and automation is part of the answer.
Take automated chatbots as an example. When they’re backed by effective machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP), they can vastly improve people’s ability to self-serve. By linking into that umbrella technology layer, chatbots can answer a wide range of common queries quickly, freeing stretched staff to focus on complex issues.
Automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are another example. They integrate seamlessly with existing contact centre technology, so residents who prefer to call can self-serve. For example, we recently partnered with a client in the public sector on the implementation of our cloud-based IVR solution alongside their call centre system. It’s helping them expedite resolution times – and it’s enabling staff to use their valuable time more effectively.
Automated workflows help people move seamlessly between channels as needed. That way, you end up with delight in a speedy resolution (not frustration in being given a round-around).
Challenge: No clarity on how people use channels | Solution: Journey tracking
Lack of information is a major blocker in delivering a more efficient service. What path are people taking through your phone system? Are they responding based on a text or email? Have they first tried to resolve the issue on the website?
This information is gold dust – and historically hard to obtain. Which is where customer journey tracking comes in.
Customer journey tracking technology gives you visibility of how people are moving through channels and touchpoints. Councils can use tools like our Customer Journey Tracker to look at user behaviour in real-time. That way, they can see what’s working (and do more of it). More importantly, they can also see where the drop-off points are (so they can pre-empt issues and keep people on track to resolution).
Technology can be easy to adopt – and transform operational efficiency and customer experience
Digital transformation is a buzzword, but it doesn’t have to involve big investment or complicated deployments. Small changes can make a huge difference to staff and residents, fulfilling everyone’s needs during these unusual times.
More councils are successfully implementing these solutions – and reaping the benefits of greater efficiency and satisfaction.
To find out more on how we can support you and your organisation, click here. To find out more about how to deliver a high-quality customer experience through an iterative approach to digital transformation, check out our latest whitepaper.