Innovating govt CX without cost blowouts

By Alex Gelbak*
Thursday, 08 July, 2021

Innovating govt CX without cost blowouts

Governments at all levels are gearing up to inject large sums into infrastructure projects to help energise the post-COVID recovery.

At the same time, technology-driven customer service transformation is high on the agenda, as residents’ expectations of their online interactions with government grow in line with their experiences with business and commercial digital services.

With this in mind, managing IT costs to avoid blowouts while meeting the new expectations of citizens will be more important than ever before.

Innovating for the digital front door

The pandemic has shown us many things, not least that government websites have become the main entry point to government information and customer self-service. Residents are now expecting those digital government experiences to be the same, if not better than their commercial counterparts.

Whilst the dual challenge of delivering ‘consumer grade’ user experiences and keeping costs under control is significant, governments around the world are stepping up by embracing new paradigms and approaches to customer experience (CX) transformation projects. Below are some key principles to use as a foundation.

Focus on the front end: Modernising core internal systems to improve operational efficiency and speed is critically important, but these enterprise projects are costly and lengthy affairs. A 2018 McKinsey Government CX report revealed simplicity of digital services ranked higher in driving customer satisfaction outcomes than the speed of service. With that in mind, prioritising more accessible and user-friendly websites and online form upgrades before or in parallel with, rather than after, internal system transformation will help governments realise quick and cost-effective CX wins.

Reduce tech debt: Whilst the CX challenges governments face aren’t uniform, they are consistent. Custom build used to be the only way agencies could create sophisticated digital services and customer experiences, but with the flexibility of today’s low-code/no-code solutions, governments now have a faster, more cost-effective and futureproof path to service transformation. As governments strive to become more responsive to the needs of their community and internal constituents, no-code tools help them achieve this mission by becoming more self-sufficient, reducing scope creep (the gap between what was promised and what was actually delivered) and tech debt, lowering IT costs and accelerating delivery.  

People, process, culture and the flywheel: Technology provides the foundation for CX transformation, but it’s the people, process and culture that drive the outcomes. The maturation of low-code/no-code technology has given rise to citizen-developers — non-technical matter experts (SMEs) that can stand up digital experiences without specialist coding skills. As solution delivery shifts from business analysts, product managers and IT teams into the hands of SMEs, it’s critically important to find technology partners that impart SMEs with the best practices and skills needed to wield these tools effectively, and deliver high impact outcomes. Not only does building in-house capability result in more engaged staff and self-sufficient teams, it also reduces external consulting costs and dependencies.

When it comes to helping develop this sovereign tech capability, it is vital technology vendors help their government customers deliver not just outputs, but the outcomes and the skills needed to drive that initiative and keep the innovation flywheel turning.

Invest for the future: One of the common fears expressed by IT leaders is that the cost, effort and time to shift from legacy to new technology is too great. However, when you consider the rapid pace that customer expectations are evolving, and the meteoric rise in cybersecurity breaches, the risk and cost of inaction is starting to outweigh the risk and cost of maintaining legacy systems.

Embracing enterprise intelligence

As we cast our minds forward to what’s next, technology leaders are moving towards something more than just publishing and workflow tools — they are embracing enterprise intelligence. Imagine intelligent government websites and social channels that anonymously track customer sentiment and service usage trends, and autonomously tailor information, online services and overall digital experience for people based on those insights.

This need not be limited to digital interactions either — offline customer interaction data recorded during phone calls and service centre visits, or out in the community via IoT devices, could automatically inform what people see when they come to the homepage of their local government website. This is particularly important for local governments where community needs trend differently by season and during emergency events.

We’re starting to see examples of governments and councils looking at all the data available across the various touch-points with the community, both digital and offline, to inform better digital experiences without needing someone to consult and check multiple sources. The aim is to have connected experiences that optimise in real time.

With digital transformation high on the agenda, and many promising new technology enablers waiting in the wings, it’s vital that cost blowouts don’t threaten the success of projects and the viability of continuing transformation efforts. This is integral to keeping government responsive at a time when people need it most.

*Alex Gelbak is the General Manager of Global Platform Strategy at Granicus and the founder of Australian GovTech platform OpenCities, which was recently acquired by Granicus.

Image credit: ©

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