Self-service is on the rise. More people want to be given the tools to answer their own queries, quickly and on their terms. While the private sector has caught on, there’s still a big opportunity for government to do the same and transform the citizen experience in the process.
According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer using self-service to resolve their support issues. This correlates with a global rise in self-service as a channel – a 125% increase in the use of customer portals in 2015–16.
What’s driving this popularity? The proliferation of smartphones has transformed the way we interact with organisations. With internet connectivity at our fingertips, we’re now using our mobile phones to do just about everything. From booking a taxi to shopping online, we’ve become accustomed to quick, easy and mobile-enabled experiences. So, it’s jarring when we have to sit on hold for 15 minutes waiting for a customer service rep.
In the private sector, we’re seeing mounting pressure on organisations to provide a smarter, user-centric customer experience, and a reliable and dedicated self-service portal is a key part of this. But, as more people experience efficient self-service in the private sector, the challenge will be on for government to provide the same.
A centralised place for citizens to access up-to-date, personalised information, and perform functions quickly and easily through a mobile enabled experience is at the core of a good self-service channel.
Self-serve citizen experiences have a mix of functions, ranging from static website content (i.e. FAQs) to real-time form automation and processing (i.e. renewing licences). What makes them really successful is multiple dimensions – such as a discussion board, electronic forms, live chat, FAQs and reminders – all working together to create the best customer experience.
Naturally, if a citizen can quickly find the answer to a query themselves, it reduces the amount of individualised support needed. This cuts down overall customer service costs, while boosting satisfaction levels. It’s a win-win. However, the benefits don’t end there. Self-service channels also:
Often a self-serve portal will pull in information from a variety of back end systems and data points. To serve this data up correctly, across multiple devices, it’s important to have a coordinated platform, identity and master data strategy in place. This can be a complex process, but it’s not insurmountable. By looking at your customer interactions as a connected journey underpinned by a shared collaborative platform such as Salesforce, the complexity is greatly reduced when compared to silo deployment of tools.
To create a robust portal, you need to be able to move from agile development into release very quickly. By prototyping in non-scalable tools some organisations inadvertently create disposable assets, which stops them from moving swiftly into production. But by using agile development methods in conjunction with a flexible, scalable Platform, you can quickly add and deploy features (i.e. forms, reports, etc) as required, and build up your capabilities incrementally over time.
NSW Government’s Family & Community Services is one government agency unleashing the power of self-service, recently launching the Childstory Reporter website. The tool is designed to support mandatory reporters of child abuse (including doctors, police, teachers), providing them with the resources they need, in their own time.
A key feature of the site is a structured decision making tool, which helps reporters determine if the child is at significant risk and an official report to the Child Protection Helpline is needed. This also helps allocate departmental resources appropriately.
The Childstory Reporter website is taking a very complex and serious issue, and guiding mandatory reporters through the process, encouraging compliance with good UX design. It’s proving so successful that other state agencies are looking at repurposing the build for their own mandatory reporter communities. And it only took six weeks to build and deploy.
Join us at the CX Leaders in the Australian Public Sector roadshow, where we’ll be highlighting world-leading examples of innovative service delivery and discussing how digital technologies can transform citizen experiences.
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