Six Steps for Citizen-Centric Experiences in the Expectation Economy
Recently, I ordered an Amazon Kindle book from my smartphone by mistake. I realised the error but didn’t know how to cancel the order. So I clicked “Contact Us,” and immediately the Amazon messaging assistant sprang to life to qualify my query and offered to connect me to a customer service agent. “Hello, Mr. Pitamber, good afternoon! How are you? I see that you would like to cancel your Kindle book order,” said the friendly voice from somewhere in the Philippines. I explained the situation briefly, and in less than a minute the agent confirmed cancellation of my order and that I would receive email notification of the refund. An excellent experience that lasted about 4 or 5 minutes; no waiting for customer service to answer or being placed on hold for 10 minutes, no piano solo of the Backstreet Boys or even more frustrating: “We are currently experiencing high call volumes. Please continue to hold, and the next available agent will answer your call.”
Technology empowers us to be better informed but also makes us less patient and more demanding than ever before. If Amazon or Uber give me exceptional customer service, then that is what I expect from every company or brand I interact with, regardless of size or industry. That’s the expectation economy in action. According to Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey, 92% of consumers said they would stop purchasing from a company after three or fewer poor customer service experiences.
Can local governments improve citizens’ experience?
As citizens, we don’t have many options when accessing public services because they are not available elsewhere. However, we still have the same high expectations for excellent service delivery that includes faster responses to queries, consistent service across all communication channels and self-service access to more information when interacting with the public sector organisation. These requirements are the prerequisite for local authorities to deliver citizen-centric services. However, tighter budgets and increased citizen demands have made it even harder for governments to provide high-quality services in recent years.
In spite of these obstacles, forward-thinking councils are actively exploring digital tools and technologies as part of digital transformation initiatives to do things differently and embrace change. Council leaders now understand the value and outcomes digital technology can deliver for constituents and councils.
By tapping into innovation funding sources like the £7.5 million Local Digital Fund, local authorities can implement the Local Digital Declaration to support digital skills training and projects that truly evolve and deliver services, making a real difference to council employees, local businesses and citizens. The fact is that most UK councils now offer a number of digital services, but the real challenge is disparate legacy systems and technologies that discourage seamless workflows and cost too much.
Service innovation from the cloud
Service innovation using cloud communications tools offers benefits not only to citizens through quicker interactions and faster responses, but also simplifies internal council processes through better collaboration and data-driven insights, equipping frontline council staff and their managers with better information and more time to use their expertise and engage their communities more effectively.
Combining voice, video, messaging and contact centre capabilities onto a single platform gives citizens what they expect – options to connect with public services a way that suits them, just as they would with their favourite online brand. A consolidated cloud platform also facilitates a better self-service model, that provides rapid access to citizen queries, reducing calls into contact centres, ultimately saving taxpayers money.
A smooth end-to-end citizen-centric experience is hard to find, even though councils are engaging with citizens through online channels.
However, by using modern cloud-based communications services, local authorities are slowly taking up the challenge of purposely designing, building and delivering public services from the citizen’s point of view and making them accessible anywhere, anytime and from any device. This shows respect for the customer’s time and engagement – no more a one-size-fits-all approach.
Here are six steps for local authorities to consider when designing citizen-centric experiences, based on our knowledge of helping local government organisations up and down the country:
Embracing the future
I spoke about the expectation economy at the beginning of this post and how it has made us more demanding as consumers, groomed to expect the best by online giants like Amazon, Google or Uber. As citizens, we also expect five-star experiences every time we interact with our councils or use public services, but the reality is that it can take time to transform local governments, and more than anything, it requires a commitment to delighting your constituents and making that a priority, using the right channels. The time for local councils to start is right now.
Find out how 8x8 can help you manage citizen interactions through any channel, by contacting our dedicated public sector team at [email protected], call 0333 043 8888 or visit 8x8.com/uk-public-sector