Bridging the citizen journey: Addressing technical debt within the public sector

© Alexander Batuev

While a lack of funding has been a key barrier, the need to integrate legacy systems and the mammoth scope of many projects have also slowed down progress. On top of this, the failure of some iconic digital projects has created a hesitancy to adopt new technology

Historically, there has been reluctance within the public sector when it comes to adopting digital technologies.While public sector digital transformation lags behind that of the private sector, demands for technology amongst citizens are higher than ever.

The digital first world we live in has accelerated these expectations, with people wanting to access all types of services, from the public or private sector, through their mobile device. Whether that be organising a replacement credit card in a banking app or scheduling a package to be collected – citizens want the ability to conveniently access services on-demand without the need to speak to someone.

As the central sector supporting citizens with personal needs, from housing to healthcare, public sector organisations are under more pressure to provide the same customer experience as a bank or ride-sharing app. At the same time, with the cost-of-living crisis putting a massive strain on citizens with inflation at a 40 year high of 9.4%, support is needed more than ever. It is essential the public sector organisations build trust amongst the communities they serve, which can only happen with the right technology in place to prioritise, listen and respond to citizen needs with empathy.

A barrier to seamless experiences

Research has shown that only 14% of those working within the public sector believe their digital experience was ahead of customer expectations, increasing pressure for the public sector to act and rethink the way it serves citizens. At the same time, the need for this transformation is further being recognised as the government announces its new digital strategy, which sets out to improve public services as part of its ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Currently, a large majority of the public sector relies on legacy systems, which create barriers that prevent organisations fully realising and understanding the citizen journey. This means they lack the data that allows them to understand when, where and why a citizen got in touch. Not only does this cause frustration for advisors trying to provide timely and the most appropriate solutions and advice, but it also creates inefficiency in the way different departments work with one another.

To overcome the technical debt the public sector currently suffers, organisations need modern technology that will allow them to seamlessly deploy capabilities and link together different touchpoints across the citizen journey. Through this, agents can track citizen interactions, better understand their needs, concerns, recommend next steps and predict future problems that might arise.

Establishing a technology base

If the public sector is to keep up with citizens and drive efficiency, transformation is needed. In the first instant, this starts with cloud technology. As it stands, many organisations in the space are operating with on-premise technology, which causes implementations to be slow and cumbersome as more steps are needed for solutions to go live.

With cloud technology, capabilities can be rolled out almost instantly, allowing public sector organisations to respond to changing demands much more efficiently. These services can then be scaled in line with this, ensuring the maximum support is given where it’s needed most, and citizen issues are responded to and resolved swiftly.

Equally important to ensuring citizen’s issues can be quickly resolved is providing advisors the setup to do this. Cloud technology ensures agents can easily give citizens support, whether that’s from home or from a contact centre. Giving them this flexibility – like individuals get in the private sector – is not only key to retaining staff, but means agents are engaged in what they do and therefore able to provide citizens the best service possible.

Once a cloud base has been established, organisations can enable omnichannel experiences by providing a variety of channels for citizens to reach out for support, whether that be via social media or webchat. This is particularly important as citizens want to know that public sector organisations care about their needs, and more so than the private sector. At the centre of this is giving them the means to get in touch when and where an issue arises in a way that is personal to them.

Optimising the citizen journey

While having cloud technology and a variety of channels available is an essential element in optimising citizen experiences, public sector organisations need the ability to link all the points at which citizens engage with them together if they are to truly understand and respond to needs with meaningful solutions.

Implementing customer journey analytics capabilities, data across citizen touchpoints can be brought together and visualised. Public sector advisors can then have a complete overview of the citizen journey, from the point at which they reach out, to the end when their case has been resolved. Through this, they can not only look back historically on each and every interaction and better identify where journeys could be streamlined and solutions provided faster, but these journeys can be ‘tuned’ in real time too.

When citizens behaviours and preferences are mapped and understood, advisors can begin to anticipate and predict where and when they might reach out in future. As such, they can proactively provide solutions before an issue may even arise. Then, public sector organisations can really begin to respond to needs with empathy by truly understanding citizens issues and giving them experiences personalised to their needs.

Leaving technical debt in the past

The public sector faces higher expectations from citizens than any other sector as many of the services they provide are essential to peoples’ lives. Whether that’s dealing with housing contracts, council tax or healthcare issues, organisations within the sector need to make sure that citizens feel that their issues are heard and important. This is only possible once they begin to address the technical debt that prevents citizens being provided the experiences they expect and deserve.

Implementing cloud technology is the first step in providing the sector with the ability to implement and scale services and channels easily, allowing citizen demands to be responded to faster, in a way a that is suited to them. Customer journey analytics then helps to bring this all together, providing public sector advisors with the necessary insight to truly understand, respond and recommend solutions to citizen issues. Only when this is done, can the public sector bridge the citizen journey and create meaningful experiences that build trust.

This piece was provided by Nick Wingrove, VP Solutions Consulting, EMEA at Genesys


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