Government innovation: Disrupt or be disrupted

The connected world has created expectations for a smarter customer experience. The first step towards taking on the inevitable winds of digital change is knowing what government innovation looks like and how to make it happen.

The rise of the connected citizen, the penetration of digital technologies and the need for a reinvented approach to customer experience is putting pressure on all sectors to provide a better, more streamlined customer service. Government is not immune.

The rise of the connected citizen

While the internet has been the great disruptor, smartphones have revolutionised the relationship between businesses and the customer. As a result, we now have super-connected, hyper-informed customers, the majority of whom feel more empowered than they did five years ago. This constant connectivity puts a new set of expectations on customer service teams.

The private sector has begun disrupting its customer service models accordingly, and connected citizens are putting pressure on government agencies to do the same. They’re challenging government to modernise the way it interacts and communicates with its constituents, to deliver the types of services that they’ve come to expect from other industries. Customers are no longer happy with standing in queues, they want to access services online, and see greater overall innovation and transparency.

Previously, governments have told citizens “there’s a form for that”, and expected the citizen to do the heavy lifting. Now they are switching to saying “there’s an app for that”, as they embrace a customer-focused 21st century.

This is government innovation

The NSW State Government started working with us four years ago, and the way it went about digital transformation was incredible. It had a limited budget to make good on an election promise of better engagement with citizens. The solution: create one-stop shops in which citizens could do all of their business with government under one roof, and replicate this experience digitally.

Proving that the expectation gap can be solved through technology, Salesforce worked with Service NSW to help them create a powerful smartphone app (iTunes, Google Play). It enables customers to pay their rego, check demerit points, pay or dispute fines and carry digital copies of licenses, plus a lot more.

To interact with Service NSW, citizens don't need to go anywhere. They communicate and transact with the government the same way they expect to with businesses known for world-leading customer experience. And those citizens are happy with the CX – Service NSW now has a 98% customer satisfaction rate. That’s unheard of globally in governments, and the only way to make it happen is to be on the front foot.

Salesforce also worked on the NSW State Government’s Seniors Card. Previously, in order to apply for a Seniors Card, you had to prove your eligibility by going to a website, downloading a form, filling it in, having it signed by a Justice of the Peace and then taking it to a service centre. Eight weeks later, if all went well, you’d receive a Seniors Card. Eight weeks, after all that legwork.

This entire process was simplified to an online form with a statutory declaration at the bottom. A new workflow was created that changed the process from eight weeks to three days. You no longer have to go to a Justice of the Peace or to the service centre. The customer experience has been dramatically improved.

Overcoming the challenges

To compete in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world, government must reinvent the way it does business and approach it with a beginners mind. It needs to be agile and flexible, overhaul legacy systems, and instill a culture that fosters innovation.

Essential to delivering a personalised customer experience is the collection and use of data. However, trust is currently a roadblock. While customers are happy to hand over their data to corporations in exchange for better customer experience, they don’t necessarily trust government with their information and data, even for the same payoff. This naturally presents a hurdle, but it’s not insurmountable.

Government can no longer afford to throw their hands in the air, citing a lack of public approval for its use of citizens’ data as a reason for a lack of proactive service. As I said earlier, government needs to be on the front foot. Citizens need to be given a compelling reason to opt in.

Where to start?

The NSW State Government achieved its lofty goal of re-imagining the customer relationship by bringing in people from the private sector – people who truly understood customer satisfaction, how to measure it, and how to drive correct behaviours. Technologically, because it had a limited budget and therefore couldn’t afford a massive, on-premises application that required an army of people to maintain it, they looked to the cloud for answers.

For the NSW State Government, driving change was a matter of delivering what the connected citizen demands – experience that delights, at every interaction.

Identify what your organisation can do to stay ahead of changing customer expectations, by checking out our State of the Connected Customer ebook.