Public service’s dynamic landscape means that government departments face a pivotal challenge: evolving citizen experiences to meet the growing expectations of the people they serve. This evolution is not just a matter of preference; it’s a strategic imperative.
When people call government organisations, they’ve learned to expect long waits, a lack of information, and confusing journeys. However, there has been a massive shift in expectations over the past few years, driven by experience evolution in the private sector.
Today’s citizens now expect instant, frictionless, and personalised support from government organisations just as they do with private businesses. Failing to meet these expectations can lead to citizens losing trust in these organisations. Government departments must harness technological advancements to remain relevant and effective and deliver exceptional experiences to citizens.
Many business leaders already recognise that the first step in this transformation leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and automation through solutions such as self-service portals, chatbots, and automated response systems. Modern citizens expect instant, accessible solutions to their enquiries, and AI-driven self-service options let government departments meet citizens’ immediate needs while freeing up valuable resources. Department employees can then focus on more complex tasks that require a human touch—such as personalised case management that requires a nuanced understanding of laws and regulations, dispute resolution in the denial of benefits or services, or even policy advisory or development—enhancing overall service quality.
AI and automation technologies are essential tools in the modern public service toolkit. These technologies can handle a high volume of routine inquiries, reducing wait times and improving the accuracy of information provided, while augmenting the public service agent experience and empowering human workers to perform higher-value tasks. This increases the public’s satisfaction with government services, reflecting positively on the department’s efficiency and effectiveness.
However, AI and automation should not just be implemented for their own sake. Government agencies need to deploy them purposefully to make a real, positive impact on the citizen experience.
Government departments should consider a user-centric design approach to these solutions. It’s crucial to understand people’s needs, behaviours, and experiences to design services that are intuitive, accessible, and responsive to their requirements. Prioritising user-centric design lets government departments create services that are both efficient and easy to use, leading to higher engagement and satisfaction levels.
Incorporating user-centric design involves conducting thorough research to understand the population’s diverse needs, including those of marginalised or less tech-savvy groups. Design thinking methodologies can be employed to ideate, prototype, and test services with real users, ensuring that the final offerings are finely tuned to meet actual needs and preferences. This approach also necessitates a shift in mindset from a traditional, bureaucratic approach to a more agile and responsive way of working.
At the same time, government agencies must not ignore their human workers. Technology alone cannot drive the evolution of citizen services; the human element remains crucial and empowered employees provide better experiences. Employees need to be equipped with the right training to use new technologies effectively, and that training must extend beyond technical skills to include a deep understanding of the citizens they serve.
Investing in employee development ensures that staff are proficient in using new technologies as well as adept at providing empathetic and personalised service. They become capable advocates for the citizens they serve, ensuring that the department’s services are efficient, empathetic, and responsive to individual needs.
While it’s crucial that people and technology work together to deliver an improved citizen experience, that’s not where the journey ends. The prevalence of information silos within government entities is a key obstacle in providing cohesive citizen experiences. Centralising and optimising data is crucial to overcome this. Information that is stored in disparate systems is challenging to access and analyse, which leads to inconsistent service experiences. By centralising data, departments can ensure that all relevant information is accessible across various channels and teams. This ensures that human and AI workers alike can access the most up-to-date information to best serve citizens.