Research Reveals Long Road Ahead to Digital Transformation for Local Authorities

  • Just One in Four Local Authorities in the UK Offer More than 50 Percent of Services Online
  • Less than 25 percent of services are online, yet only 15 percent consult customer feedback to prioritise which should be
  • But. 88 percent feel it’s important or very important to use social media to improve service delivery
  • 70 percent are not able to provide a 360-degree view of the customer, but 95 percent cite this as a desirable attribute

Research from Verint® Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNT) today revealed that just 25 percent of local authorities in the United Kingdom currently offer more than half of their core services online, with 37 percent providing less than a quarter. The study conducted amongst more than 90 public sector councils across the UK paints a stark picture of the progress of digital transformation in the sector, according to the research titled “Customer Service Delivery in Local Government” commissioned by Verint in association with Ingenium, a UK based public sector marketing and research company.

In fact, the study reveals that momentum is struggling to gather pace, despite 36 percent of respondents expecting up to 99 percent of services to be online within two years. Many may find these targets challenging to achieve without the right strategy and tools in place when selecting which services to deliver digitally. For the organisations that make this transition, however, there can be key benefits in terms of the ability to more effectively drive revenue and autonomy to today’s increasingly digitally-led communities.

Avoiding Digital Exclusion in the Local Community
“While many may now strive to deploy an all-encompassing digital strategy, targets must be set and expectations carefully managed,” comments David Moody, Vice President and Global Leader, Government and Public Sector, Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions™. “For example, this can entail looking at your customer base and deciding if a totally digital approach is really going to be appropriate. Serving up to 99 percent of processes online would be unsuitable for those who don’t have access to the web, and our research found that at least 10 percent fall into this category.”

“Services must be tailored to suit the needs of the community and the specific circumstances of the exchange,” explains Moody. “For instance, when dealing with more sensitive enquiries, such as those around disability and law enforcement, face-to-face or over the phone interactions should be the go-to channels. The right tools must underpin new digital infrastructure along with pre-existing channels, but many councils and public sector organisations lack the right digital technologies and resources. To help address such deficiencies, they must plan and carefully decide when digital channels will be most appropriate for a select number of services. If they don’t adhere to this, they may not realise the full benefits of digital.”

Key Priorities for a Digital Approach
The research also revealed that less than 25 percent of services are currently online, but many are moving towards a more digital approach with almost two thirds of respondents evaluating suitability of services to go online within the next two years. However, less than 15 percent are using direct customer feedback as part of the decision process, while 20 percent are basing their decisions on which services are easiest to place online.

“When deciding which processes to move online, it’s essential to prioritise the ones that can help improve the customer experience and reduce operational costs, such as those which rely heavily on contact centre time and staff resource,” Moody adds. “It’s no good simply focusing on the services that are easiest to put online. Instead, organisations need to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and listen to feedback to make better informed decisions.

Further, according to the research, live chat and mobile access will be the solutions prioritised this year, with 42 percent planning to implement chat functionality in real-time and 47.5 percent planning to roll-out customer mobile access. Elsewhere, 29 percent forecast increased social media transactions across Facebook and Twitter, and more than 30 percent are planning to deploy a knowledge management service. A key priority should also be facilitating a 360-degree view of customers, enabling front- and back-office employees to easily view all the necessary information about a citizen to empower the user and improve service. In fact, the research revealed that almost 95 percent of respondents agree, and perceive a 360-degree view of customers essential to their digital strategy. Yet for that group, just 10 percent have the tools in place to realistically achieve that objective.

Moody concludes, “In this digital age, it’s encouraging to see some striving to adopt a more ‘digital first’ approach, but there’s still a long way to go. Authorities’ underlying infrastructures will play a pivotal role and should be the first consideration in this type of initiative. While focus must be on digital, it’s neither beneficial nor realistic to move most or all service online. Successful digital strategies recognise the need to support customers through the provision of multiple channels, including chat, email, voice and human interaction.”

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