Have you ever stopped to think about how simple it is to order a product and get it delivered?
It just works, doesn’t it? However, as the customer you play a pivotal role in making it happen.
You make your selection. You enter your payment method and provide delivery details. The latter two are often remembered and pre-prepopulated for you to make it quicker and easier to complete the transaction – just enter the three digits on the back of the card, and you’re off. Then a set of services from very different companies swings into play, from retailers to payment providers to logistics experts, all driven by the same key information you’ve provided.
Previously private companies have had to invest billions to custom build architectures to allow disparate systems within their departments to talk to each other and to provide a shared view of the customer. But now, what enables the end-to-end service is an effective technology architecture and Open API which allows data to be shared and interpreted by different systems and enables the different companies to play their parts.
Fortunately, for local authorities, software which offers similar capabilities to share data across department silos, even with external stakeholders, is available straight off the shelf. And it be configured by business people, it doesn’t need big-brained ‘techies’.
At the SOLACE summit, industry commentators called for the radical re-organisation of services and for a significant change in the balance of work. This was to be achieved through the elimination of on-value adding activities and the concentration of efforts to achieve a desired outcome. Back to our analogy…
As with shopping requests, sharing structured data and understanding how that relates to people and places is fundamentally important to the effective delivery of local government services. So, too, is harnessing the customer as part of the team to do the admin which shapes information for systems to deal with.
Most councils have already enlisted the support of customers to update information in their high-volume departmental systems. But few have the capability to utilise insight gained in one area to impact actions in another.
Modern customer engagement platforms use Open APIs and data mapping tools to make integration with back-end systems easier. They also offer rules-based workflow automation which makes it possible to ‘watch’ for occurrences of data, or for changes in status, to automatically trigger a response elsewhere from the organisation.
Here are a couple of examples of data driven services.
Changes in circumstances occur all the time, with most being mundane. However, ‘Tom’ has previously needed support. He reports his loss of job and an increase in his rent to the benefits team. Guided by logic, on receiving notification of Tom’s changes, workflow automatically triggers an alert to Tom’s social worker to check in with him and, potentially, head-off an impending crisis. The system set ups criteria for the long-term. Being automated, it’s not hit and miss.
Molly reports a missed green bin collection to her council via her smartphone. Her contact details complaint is routed across organisational boundaries to the waste management contractor and to the crew’s in-cab technology. They send back a code which confirms that the bin has not been collected because it has been contaminated. As a result, the council responds to Molly with their collection policy and offers her a chance to pay for a special collection, or, to wait until next week.
Modern customer engagement platforms are designed to share information across departmental systems and to surface personalised data from back office systems to users. Given each council will have a different technology landscape, for an engagement platform to be effective it must utilise an open API framework to be able to integrate with any system. Easy integration, in turn, opens up opportunities to introduce new services.
A focal point for services, identifying something you need, providing the means to pay for it and knowing where it will be delivered.
It can be done now in local authorities. Why are we waiting?