Rob Irons, Senior Manager at Hinduja Global Solutions, discusses whether public sector customer service has improved with the adoption of cloud technology
Has cloud (and a pandemic) enabled us to finally punch above our weight?
The advancement of public sector customer service has undoubtedly been due to the adoption of cloud technology, which opens new ways of working, saves delivery costs and supports the social value agenda.
When I think about how things have changed, I have to cast my mind back to 2005 when as a Civil Servant, I co-authored ‘Better Practice Guide- lines for Government Contact Centres. This was written to support the out- comes of the Varney review – ‘Service Transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer’.
At the time, this whitepaper was ground-breaking. Remember this was before Netflix, Spotify and even the iPhone! The paper set the blueprint at the time for how the public sector should be delivering customer services and focused on quality to the citizen, the creation of flexible solutions, and creating an environment for staff that supported the delivery of excellent service.
These elements combined created a catalyst for government service trans- formation at the time and encouraged departments to consider the way citizens wanted to engage and the adoption of multichannel services which would meet the varied demand requirements.
Success in technology changes leadership
Today, whilst many of the core principles we wrote about remain true, with successful services being a balanced blend of People, Processes and Technology, changes in Government leadership and strategy, a recession, and a Pandemic have all changed the way public services must now operate.
In parallel, the expectations of citizens are set by the experiences they have as consumers across a variety of brands including the likes of Amazon, Uber and Apple, who deliver increased accessibility (multiple channels), avail- ability (24×7), speed and functionality (self-serve) whilst reducing cost, effort and time.
When these expectations are not met, there are now faster and more public ways to show dissatisfaction through social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Where Public Sector historically has been one step behind in digital innovation and modern customer service experience, the impact of the pandemic has accelerated the ways in which public sector organisations have had to/been able to deliver services.
The UK Institute of Customer Service Survey released in January 2022, shows that customer satisfaction within Public Sector organisations has continued to increase, and for the first time is starting to outperform sectors including Utilities and Telco.
So, what did the pandemic do to the industry?
The pandemic forced organisations to take a leap of faith, making decisions they never thought they would consider.
- Shift to cloud technology
- Opening up new ways of working, no longer determined by physical location enabling work at home, in office or hybrid. This allows skilled catchments to be targeted. increasing the quality of candidates recruited, all underpinned by unlimited capacity, scalability, and high levels of security.
- Removing reliance on legacy systems, which handcuffed departments into a BAU only state, preventing digital solution adaptation, and the ability to launch more cost-effective channels (webchat, self-service etc).
- Reducing delivery costs through the removal of fixed costs such as real estate and long-term licence contracts.
- Supporting the Social Value agenda by removing barriers for Levelling Up, creating more flexible working opportunities, a better and more engaging employee environment and enabling reinvestment of funds into pay all contributing to increased agent satisfaction, higher quality service and the retention of staff.
- Increased partnerships between the public sector and outsourcers have shown services can be set up at speed, whilst improving quality and optimising costs delivering greater value for the taxpayer.
What have we seen happen since the pandemic?
At the start of the pandemic, we moved 1,000 employees from the office to work at home within a 3-week period. Since then, we have created over 2,000 sustainable new roles primarily through work at home with the option of hybrid working across our 6 UK-based engagement centres.
There has also been a growth in blending technology across services we deliver implementing more opportunities for customers to self-serve allowing easier and faster access to information. These changes have not been to the detriment of the service we provide, in fact, the opposite.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are consistently green, employee satisfaction has increased by 10 points over the last year with an increase in client satisfaction by 33% during the same period.
In the recent UKCSI survey, our partnership with Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was named the highest-rated public sector organisation. Together, we have worked hard over the past 2 years to transform the way in which they deliver services to customers.
We have introduced cloud technology via AWS solutions and increased channel options for users. Working collaboratively with DBS has enabled us to analyse and enhance customer journeys and identify the right measures of success creating what is now a leading customer service experience within the Public Sector.
Eric Robinson, CEO of DBS, said: “We are incredibly proud that DBS has been recognised as the highest-rated public sector organisation for customer satisfaction in the UK.
The result demonstrates the organisation’s strong commitment to providing high-quality services and the dedication and hard work of DBS staff, I also want to acknowledge the efforts of staff in HGS, who support our frontline customer services.”
UKCSI added: “DBS’ strong showing in the UKCSI is encouraging and shows that public sector organisations – much like those in the private sector – who build trust and deliver on their promises will be rewarded with customer loyalty.”
So, to the question, is public sector customer service now punching above its weight? The answer is Yes!
As this year’s Customer Service Index proved, the landscape has changed and there are no more excuses why Public Sector customer service should not be leading the way.
Who is HGS?
HGS has provided services to the UK public for over 20 years. As a Crown Commercial Services Supplier on the RM6181 framework and a G-Cloud 12 framework provider for digital workforce/automation, our overriding principles ensure we deliver value for money, and protect the citizen (particularly the vulnerable), ensure accessibility, and operate within defined and robust accredited standards.
Our proven ability to deliver seamless services across multiple channels, 24×7, is intrinsic to our public sector service offering. We provide information (FAQ and complex), guidance, customer support, signposting, registration, and advice services.
HGS continues to invest in public sector expertise, delivery capability, and infrastructure with a unique ability to compete and in many cases outperform key competitors in the UK public sector space. To find out more about HGS within the UK Public Sector market, visit:
Please note: This is a commercial profile.
© 2019. This work is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND.
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