How are you communicating with your customers? Is it via email, face to face and phone calls? Or is there a way to use technology to go even further? At ACF we use every piece of technology at our disposal to help our retail customers – we’d like to help our customers in the public sector do more of this, too.
In this blog post we explain, using several examples, that using advanced technology in the public sector isn’t just a pipe dream – it is already reality in many councils across the UK.
Public sector vs. retail – what if customers had more choice?
In the world of retail, customers have a lot of choice. For example, they can move from one mobile phone provider to another easily enough. So what stops them from moving? The answer is brand loyalty, and providing an excellent customer experience (CX) plays a very important part in retaining customers.
In a government context, customers have less choice. But what if this wasn’t always the case? Imagine if, in future, there was competition for government services? What if citizens could choose whether to have their bins collected by their local council or an independent provider, for example? How would councils make themselves better at serving their customers so they would become the preferred choice? While this may not become reality any time soon (or, perhaps, ever) customer experience and interaction is critical to any organisation’s revenue stream – and those who provide a better customer experience lead the way. How do they do this? By learning from others who have done it before and by investing in technology that makes life easier for everyone.
Multi-channel customer experiences
The public sector is under growing pressure to modernise processes and systems. It makes sense. Government employees need to deliver efficient and user-centric services that people expect, in this digital age. So how can public sector organisations, like local authorities, borough and county councils, make a step-change in the way they serve their customers? The answer is: by learning from the services currently being provided by retail companies.
Not too long ago it was a struggle to imagine that online bookings could be made for appointments in government offices – today it’s the norm. And in the not too distant future technology will even help people who can’t travel to council offices easily speak to helpful council employees using video platforms. So how are new technologies transforming the customer experience in the public sector already? Here are three examples:
Making appointments with local government offices used to be a challenge. Previously, local governments would create appointments and notify the customer, rather than give them any choice in the matter. This created a lot of frustration and confusion for users, and resulted a lot of missed or cancelled appointments. But as councils merge and the demands for their services increase, it is becoming more and more necessary for them to use technologies like ACF’s Q-Flow to help book appointments in advance. Their online appointment booking solution means that waiting times are reduced and customers meet with the right agent who have the appropriate skills required to deal with their questions and get them resolved right then and there: no waiting required.
Public sector employees have a lot of demands on their time and often compete for limited resources like booking rooms. When working with children, or vulnerable adults for example, employees need to ensure they are seen in a safe, private environment, with people who can help them. Previously, competition for resources could cause stress and frustration for employees and for customers. Now, with Q-Flow’s calendar system, it’s easy to make sure that the right customers are in the right place with the right resources to resolve their issues as quickly and effectively as possible.
When customers are waiting to be seen, how do they know where to go, where they are in the queue, or what other services are available to help them? That’s where digital signage comes in. With screens being used to project images, videos, data or web pages, it is now possible for the public sector to showcase, proudly, the success they are having by sharing relevant, anonymised, customer stories or even advertise under-utilised services.
This innovative tool is being used by councils across the country to improve their customer experience and manage queues: both digitally and physically. How does it work? Behind the scenes, algorithms calculate the wait times of queues and direct people towards the best solution to their problem. It’s not as complicated as it sounds: it’s just a tool that makes use of workflows that Q-flow has already created to help take away the burden of finding the perfect match between a customers’ need and the people available to help them. The result is that employees can manage their workloads better and your customers spend less time waiting, get the service they require, and leave with a smile on their face.
At ACF Technologies, our mission is to help public sector organisations like yours embrace new technologies and improve the customer experience. These are just three ways that we’re doing it already – but there are so many more opportunities available! We’d love to talk to you about the possibilities that technologies like rota systems, reporting suites, email or text messaging notifications, room management, calendar systems and content management (to name just a few) can offer to improve the way your council treats its customers and it’s employees.
To find out more, get in touch by calling +44 (0) 333 600 8090.