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Building Citizen Experiences at Pace with Salesforce

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A broad set of capabilities are needed to deliver and support digital citizen experiences; how can UK government departments deliver at pace with Salesforce?

Organisations globally deliver experiences with Salesforce via their customer’s channel of choice, be it web, mobile or messaging. Connecting experiences to their Service CRM enables internal and partner staff to deeply understand the customer’s needs. New experiences are launched in days or weeks and rapidly iterated based on customer feedback. 

What are the capabilities that deliver customer experiences at speed; and how may they be realised by UK government departments with Salesforce?

Let’s consider the capabilities required to build experiences fast, satisfying a diverse customer base.

Capabilities for Rapid Build of Experiences

  • Recognisable experiences on a device of choice
    • Customers must trust they are interacting with the brand or service they know; the organisation’s identity must be accurately represented visually and through language. It should function irrespective of the device form factor.
  • Interoperability with digital channel of choice
    • Digital experiences are not ‘one size fits all’ for customers; the ability to invoke a single experience through a range of channels increases adoption and satisfaction with the service.
  • Empower the (whole) team to Iterate
    • Building at speed, and continuing to iterate from customer feedback, necessitates a low-code paradigm. Low code democratises IT capability and frees up developers to work on unique and complex problems. 
  • Accelerate non-digital channel resolutions
    • An end-to-end digital experience is a worthy goal, but on occasion, customers must contact an organisation for digital assistance. Equipping operational teams with fresh, up-to-date information reduces the cost-to-serve, and increases customer confidence.
  • Consume multiple trusted data sources
    • Most organisations have hundreds of systems that hold data to be surfaced in a single digital experience. The orchestration of multiple data sources should be opaque within the experience. 

In summary; customers must be able to interact with relevant data via an experience they trust within the channel or device they choose. If the customer needs digital assistance, respond accurately to their needs.

Let’s now consider how Salesforce enables these capabilities for government departments.

Delivering Experiences Rapidly for Government Customers

1. Recognisable experiences on a device of choice

The Salesforce ‘Experience Cloud’ enables departments to create sites to host a citizen experience. This could be for a micro use case, for example, a web form to gather unauthenticated responses, or a rich portal-like experience where the user authenticates, views data the department holds about them, and navigates through complex processes.

Experience templates are fully responsive, catering for the user’s device of choice. It’s possible to publish an Experience site as a hybrid mobile app through the ‘Mobile Publisher’ feature.

Sites are not limited to the citizen; treat them as a lens for users external to the department to interact with the department’s data. You may create one site for a citizen, another for a business entity, and another for a department downstream of your process. Site users have controlled access to the data via role-based access control (RBAC).

Trust is vital in government services, starting with a recognisable and accessible interface. Within an experience site in Salesforce, you may:

  • Customise the Salesforce WCAG-compliant design system with your department’s branding, fonts and custom style sheets (CSS). This is the quickest, lowest code option. 
  • Bring your own design system to our Lightning Web Components (LWC) framework. There’s already one of these for Gov.UK to get you started. This is the highest control choice for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance and pixel-perfect interfaces and is an implementation of the W3C web components standard

Make sure everyone can use the service

Provide a service that everyone can use, including disabled people and people with other legally protected characteristics. And people who do not have access to the internet or lack the skills or confidence to use it.

2. Interoperability with the digital channel of choice

Providing the citizen with an option to consume their experience through a channel of choice increases service adoption. Whilst a sound strategy, multi-channel experiences can proliferate the build and operational cost of a service.

Salesforce provides a low code interface to plot journeys that support a process. An example is checking on the status of an existing request with the department and leaving a comment. Salesforce will allow you to build a guided workflow through low-code tools that:

  • Performs Identity and Verification (ID&V) for the user
  • Responds to menu-based or typed user prompts
  • Presents data from existing systems
  • Accepts inputs to be appended to the existing request

When you’ve defined your journey, it’s possible to surface this via SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or a Bot. The guided workflow is composable; you can use parts of what you build, for example, the ID&V function, to automate the initiation of a different channel like a 1:1 web chat with an agent.

This guided workflow is fully interoperable with the tools used to build the web experience; you can call previously built functions to (for example) retrieve data. You don’t need to build and maintain individual functions to support the same logical journey across different channels.

Choose the right tools and technology

Choose tools and technology that let you create a high-quality service in a cost-effective way. Minimise the cost of changing direction in future.

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3. Empower the (whole) team to iterate

Even with the most thorough user research, no department knows how the experience will be adopted until it’s in the hands of users. That’s why it’s critical to listen to user feedback, review data points on journey adoption (for example through Google Analytics), and iterate the experience.

Projects to build a citizen experience exhaust their budget eventually, but the service owners receive actionable feedback long after the initial implementation team has moved on.

For over 23 years, Salesforce has been at the forefront of the low code paradigm, empowering operational users and business analysts to team up with traditional IT resources to deliver services. This gives service owners the opportunity to iterate their service without calling in the developers.

The Experience Cloud builder is low code first; it is possible to create an experience through drag-and-drop components, promote through test environments and publish externally without writing a line of code.

Salesforce provides the Flow builder to orchestrate branching, data queries and updates for guided workflows within an experience. These are surfaced via the user interface and are fully interoperable with the Gov.UK components described above. Gov.UK-compliant experiences can be created and maintained without development resources. 

Learning Salesforce is easy through the free, bite-sized training platform Trailhead.

Iterate and improve frequently

Make sure you have the capacity, resources and technical flexibility to iterate and improve the service frequently.

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4. Accelerate non-digital channel resolutions

Historically, managing inbound contact has been a physically separated domain from the digital experience. This was driven by a limitation of technology products to provide the flexibility to deliver a pixel-perfect experience on the same platform that manages the receipt and processing of phone calls or emails.

This disconnect creates a challenge for IT teams; they must expose data captured on the digital experience to operational staff supporting the service users. At best this integration increases the cost to run the service; at worst, the operational staff see only partial or delayed data and are ill-equipped to accurately and efficiently support a service user.

Salesforce delivers the citizen experience on the same stack as the application that delivers a service console for operational staff. That means operational staff:

Native access to data reduces the time it takes to understand a citizen’s needs, improves staff satisfaction, and creates time to focus on complex citizen issues.

Provide a joined-up experience across all channels

Work towards creating a service that meets users’ needs across all channels, including online, phone, paper and face-to-face.

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5. Consume multiple trusted data sources

Organisations use an average of over 1,000 applications; it’s inevitable the data to be displayed in an experience is stored in more than one place. Without connecting and surfacing this data in context, adoption is reduced and users make inbound contact more frequently.

Salesforce is a core part of many organisation’s IT landscapes, but it’s never alone. In fact, it was designed as an API-first platform. Over half of all traffic on Salesforce servers is integration-related.

Government departments maintain a plethora of systems, from modern cloud-based systems to legacy on-premise applications. Salesforce has a broad set of web standard integration capabilities, including:

  • Identity-based protocols, like oAuthOIDC and SAML
    • Many customers use oAuth with Azure AD for internal users and OIDC for OneLogin for government
  • Web service protocols, like RESTSOAPGraphQL and Bulk REST
    • REST callouts are commonly used to integrate with Gov.UK Notify
  • Event-based pub/sub services, like the Kafka inspired on platform event bus or the gPRC and HTTP/2 pub/sub API.
    • Event-based integrations are increasingly the norm for a loosely coupled integration strategy and better peak load management for legacy systems
  • Direct database connections, to virtualise data from source through oData, or via JDBC for relational database integration
    • Virtualising data avoids data syncing, and can help satisfy strict security requirements for classified data

The smart choice for many customers is to include an orchestration layer to manage the consumption and publication of integration patterns within the estate. Mulesoft has out-of-the-box connectors with Salesforce and a wide range of other common systems. It is also interoperable with the low code tool ‘Flow’ referenced above.

Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns

Build on open standards and common components and patterns from inside and outside government.

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Conclusion

Salesforce provides powerful, natively connected capabilities so departments rapidly build, test and iterate experiences. Data sharing is controlled for internal and external access centrally, without a high run cost for different systems and integrations to maintain.

And most importantly, citizens and customers notice the difference. They see:

  • An experience they trust and expect from the government
  • Optionality to consume via their channel of choice
  • Data-empowered customer service from the department for efficient resolutions

If you’d like to hear how Salesforce can help with your department’s customer experience, contact our Customer Services Team

UK Public Sector Team

The Salesforce UK Public Sector team is here to help our government customers achieve success in the digital age. To find out about our Government Solutions please visit our Public Sector Website or drop us an email on ukps@salesforce.com

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