The events of the last two years have seen disruption become more common place for most citizens and the ongoing energy and cost of living crises together with supply chain issues have led to further uncertainty about the future. With new claims for Universal Credit increasing by at least 400% in March and April 2020 it is more important than ever that local government is able to understand the needs of individuals and offer them a more personalised service.
Councils across the UK need to ensure that the pathways for citizen communication are effective. To achieve this data needs to be collated and analysed to understand what people want and use this to deliver a personalised service as part of an overall customer experience that supports and reassures in these difficult times.
In the past, delivering on this capability has not always been easy for local authorities. Like other public sector organisations, they can be limited in their ability to adapt due to budgets, legacy systems, inflexible proprietary technologies and reliance on manual processes. At the same time, they have to have a laser focus on data protection and security to meet ever-increasing privacy regulations.
Yet today two big factors are coming together to drive change. The first being technological advancements and the second is the growing understanding by councils that they are part of the service industry and therefore need to mirror the successful initiatives of service industry leaders.
Building a digital experience – How local authorities can do it today
In order to deliver a service that is tailored to the needs of its citizens, local authorities need to ensure that their entire approach is digital by design. Consumers today have come to expect that they interact with organisations through digital channels and this same expectation and experience should therefore be met in their communications with local councils.
People can for example, interact with IVRs and chatbots to obtain the information needed to solve their issue themselves. Up-to-date information and guidance can be provided from the knowledge base in the format they prefer. Citizens can also trigger a call or digital session from the council web site or ask to be escalated to support staff. The citizen is in control, building a customer experience that can be personalised to them.
For local government contact centres to go one step further and start to build a more personalised service offering: two key elements have to be in place: access to data and close integration between systems. This will ensure that information is shared across departments and channels, rather than being trapped in silos.
Making connections that drive a personalised experience
To enable councils to provide a single view of the customer and their needs it will be helpful to have their CRM system integrated with their contact centre solution and quality monitoring platforms. Also, drawing on intelligence from Voice of the Customer data in particular, will help in the personalisation drive by enabling the council to capture the sentiment of what the citizen is saying and tailor their communication and engagement with them accordingly.
Data also needs to be collected and made available across every channel, and must always be up to date, following stringent internal processes that put the customer first.
All this together helps the local authority to effectively form a citizen experience hub which democratises data for council users, provides analytics, and supports management of the customer journey. Most important of all, it enables the council to see a 360-degree view of the citizen and ensure it is delivering services that are personalised to their needs.
Gary Bennett is VP UKI/MEA/Northern Europe at Enghouse Interactive