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In today’s connected world, people expect to interact with their colleagues, friends and businesses to share experiences and find the information they need, when they need it. But what about connecting with their fellow citizens or other local residents?  A number of things happened recently, which really got me thinking that councils could be providing self-service communities to their citizens to help those people in their every day life. 

Re-Imagining Council Services 

Firstly, I was lucky enough to be involved in one of our “Re-Imagining Customer Services” workshop sessions, supported by the fantastically enthusiastic Nick Hill. In these events, we take a number of Public Sector customers through a session designed to make them think about Council Services through the eyes of a customer; understand their pain points, create an idea, and finally pitch that idea to the room. In one of the groups. Lauren Boyle, the persona we use, had just moved to the area and was trying to organise education for her children. The group highlighted the frustrations of finding a school place, understanding how the school was performing both quantitatively and qualitatively, meeting new parents and so on.

What was really interesting was the solution they created to this problem – why can’t Lauren have a community of individuals who have been through that process giving her guidance and support as she progresses? A self-service community that points her to local groups, gives her guidance on travel, rates the local schools and provides verbatim feedback, and suggests private after school clubs that may be of interest to her, and her children – a local schooling mumsnet.com.

Building a Great Community

The second thing that happened was actually on the same day. Salesforce hosted a webinar with our customer Justgiving. Richard Atkinson, Justgiving’s CIO, took us through how they have decided to change the way they are engaging with good causes. They are the largest giving platform in the world with 22m users, across 164 countries and have a vision that “no good cause should go unfunded”. The really interesting thing is that they want to make sure that they connect the people who care, with the causes they care about – an international network of charities and non-profits, linking into individuals who want to know more about what they do - doesn’t that sound like an international, local community?

Channel Shift vs. Channel Shove

The third of my three happenings was in a customer meeting. We spent a good two hours talking about channel shift vs channel shove, and the merits and costs of both of the approaches; the consensus being that shove is required for some people, but that digital services should be so good that people choose to use them. It was then that we talked about communities helping each other; how can we foster those “experts” in the community to support those without information? How can we encourage people to serve themselves, through community action groups, rather than call into the council to ask the question? And, maybe most importantly, with the way that council’s are being asked to deliver increasingly more, with austerity cuts reducing the amount they can do, how do we change the role of a council from service provider, to active member of the community?

Salesforce has been working with some of the largest organisations in the world to deliver self-service communities. Our community cloud gives you, out of the box, the ability to share knowledge articles, create groups of common interest, find “citizen champions” and provide a digital portal for self service; whilst all the time being optimised for any platform – mobile, tablet or PC.

If you want to learn more about what Salesforce Community Cloud can do, have a look at this two minute video, watch the Justgiving webinar, or get in touch with us to discuss further. 

This article was carefully crafted by Michael Nelson, a Salesforce UK Public Sector expert.