Taking a Constituent-Centric Approach to Improving Government Services

A government that can both reduce costs and improve constituent service. Dream or possibility?

Having worked in or around government for over 30 years, I should have known better. Several years ago I experienced what Gartner terms a ‘digital civic moment’ in my family, and I was forced to interact with several UK government departments in short-order. My experience was appalling even though I tried to use online services as much as possible. Countless half-hour waits for the phone to be answered, passed between service functions within a department, and then between departments before my service requests were handled. All this only exacerbated the fallout from the key life event (in this case, death event in my family). My conclusion coming out of this experience with my local government is that the provider-centric service model no longer cuts it, and that an end-to-end constituent-centric process with supporting systems is a must. A government that can both reduce costs and improve constituent service. Dream or possibility?

The whole service model for government is complex as citizens and business, in most instances, don’t have a choice. The ‘services’ they receive fall into three distinct categories:

  • Regulatory – such as paying taxes, where service needs to be respectful and to-the-point
  • Discretionary – such as receiving health care
  • Digital civic moments – a life or status change where the government must get involved

The drive for digital government, with as low a number of hand-offs and civil servant interactions, must recognize this complexity and vary according to the type of service being provided and sought.

Equally significant is the fact that expectations of what constituents want has changed. Constituent service is the lifeblood of government―it is a pillar of why government exists in the first place. With the expansion of digital technology, government organizations are challenged with responding to a new and more demanding constituent. A constituent that is always wired, always on, always informed and demanding a multi-channel experience, without losing context. While we typically talk about government having to provide more services with fewer resources, that phrase has changed to also include, any time, any place, and through whatever channel a constituent prefers. They expect Amazon-level service when dealing with government. This move is supportive of delivery of self-service with appropriate online guidance at a lower cost to the taxpayer. Cross-department boundaries need to be broken down so that the constituent can enter ‘any door’ and receive the service they need.

Back-office automation will help improve constituent service whereby the constituent service advisor may be the sole representative of all agency service. As an example, constituent online tax self-assessment using guidance may require, in exceptional circumstances, further advice to be given. This could be given by the constituent service representative using co-browse and who has access to the required information, rather than a dedicated back-office subject matter expert. Based on my earlier personal example, if a constituent representative is asked to deal with different services and channels, with online guidance and suggested Next Best Action, then a different set of capabilities and skills is required.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to a true transformation to constituent-centric service delivery is the existence of a large legacy systems that have been implemented, probably over an extended period of time, with cost reduction/revenue generation as the primary aim rather than excellent, intuitive service. An incremental wrap-and-replace strategy should be adopted so access to relevant constituent data can be achieved, from a single system interface, as early as possible.

It should be noted that adopting the constituent-centric approach does not only have benefits for the constituent. Full automation, self-service, and online guidance with suggested next best action will reduce cost of service provision. It will also promote consistency and reduce errors. Importantly, it promotes constituent confidence in the government department which ultimately promotes compliance and appropriate use of government services.

Constituent-centric services in government are necessary to allow an end-to-end customer journey to be personalized, optimized and automated. Additionally, the integration of cross-government collaboration will ensure informed decisions are made and next best actions are made available to enhance constituent service. A fully functional constituent services solution, including self-service capability, multiple-channel access, inter- and intra-agency integration (also called ‘any door’) with systems and data, predictive analytics and guidance should be sought. This complete solution creates a path to a truly digital government benefitting constituents, taxpayers and the agencies that serve them. It is much easier for government organizations to implement an enterprise, customer-service solution today by leveraging cloud and deploying a solution that guides constituent service agents through the interaction. Today’s customer service solutions will help government orchestrate and exploit information held in their back office systems to increase the efficiency of their front office operations. Now is the time for governments to realize the benefits of embracing a truly end to end constituent-centric model.

Learn more about the Pega Government Platform here.

Read our Embracing Constituent-Centric Government whitepaper here.

Watch our Customer Service in Government webinar here.