In the UK, our expectations of government departments and local authorities has never been greater, citizens deserve a seamless user experience on a par with what the private sector so often delivers. And that requires robust digital capabilities – to be delivered by the CIO and the generally overloaded IT department.
As we know, local authorities are responsible for providing a huge range of services – from managing welfare payments and waste disposal to housing vulnerable people across the community. Paperwork shouldn’t get in the way. But it does, and it’s a big frustration – for the public and the authorities alike. It can be time-consuming, repetitive and inefficient, and when budgets are already stretched, it’s an even bigger issue.
In the mean time
The number of residents in the Royal Borough of Greenwich is on the up, and, against a backdrop of rising financial pressure, the organisation needed to transform the delivery of customer services. As local government is a process-focused beast by nature, this was no mean feat. Managing customer expectations can be challenging enough – but it’s virtually impossible to deliver better services with legacy IT systems.
Last year alone, the Royal Borough of Greenwich received over one million enquiries and service requests over the phone, and simplifying its many data-entry forms was a key priority. Contact centre advisors needed a more user-friendly system which would enable them to open and manage customer service requests quickly and efficiently, so they could ultimately deliver a better service and enhance levels of citizen engagement.
A problem shared
This challenge is not unique to the Royal Borough of Greenwich. For the fourth year in a row, expanding citizen engagement was ranked as the most important technology investment priority for local government leaders, according to the 2018 survey What’s next in digital communications for local government. In addition, 69 percent of respondents rated their current level of citizen engagement as poor to average. Another survey conducted by YPO revealed that 49 percent of those working in the public sector say budgetary constraints and reduced staff numbers are the most significant obstacles to delivering good customer service now and in the future.
And a report by Sopra Steria suggests that only 58 percent of the UK believes digital transformation has had a positive impact on the quality of public services, with lack of integration cited as a key issue. Citizens evidently want – and expect – far more from their public sector digital experiences.
A solution delivered
When IBM presented a solution to the Royal Borough of Greenwich, implementation management was key. Minimising disruption for call centre staff during the transition phase was particularly important. The team worked with staff across the organisation to ensure the system was truly fit for purpose. And with an intuitive user-interface, IBM successfully helped deploy the solution to more than 300 front- and back-office workers.
It delivered all the benefits of integration, flexibility and scalability that you might expect – but it specifically enabled a 7 percent reduction in average enquiry handling time, as well as a 20 percent saving on the time and cost of email handling. By using the IBM Public Sector Solution for Microsoft Dynamics,the authority also completed the implementation 100 days quicker than would otherwise have been possible.
Time to grow up?
The technology behind IBM’s digital solutions is only part of the story. Culture, attitude and mindset play a huge role when it comes to true digital transformation. Becoming “digitally mature” as an organisation involves nurturing innovation, fostering collaborative work environments and maintaining a positive attitude towards risk-taking. The Royal Borough of Greenwich embraced the opportunity to leverage new digital tools as part of its efforts to improve the customer – and employee – experience. And the results speak for themselves.
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