Digital is dead long live self self-service?

Digital is dead – long live self-service

This was in my view an excellent session with a lot of engagement from those participating.  I put it up as a topic feeling it would be useful to push beyond the idea that we needed to focus on self-service not digital.  The discussion took a different more useful direction.

  • The first point to be made was that before you look at technology and channels you need to look at the ‘social contract’ and citizens expectations and this is changing rapidly. Councils will in future have to do less and citizens will have to do more to stay within shrinking budgets.
  • While it was recognised that there were ‘hard boundaries’ in terms of equality of access and legal obligations to provide services, service levels and types often have very wide discretionary range.
  • The question of how much or little we expect the council and citizen to do in any service area or process is – within legal obligations which are often don’t have clear boundaries- a political issue. This implies a debate and end ‘contract’ or agreement.
  • If our view on that balance is out of line with local citizens and politicians we will get major push back and it may prove untenable. In order to get it right we will need to have real dialogue and remember that communications means listening as well as talking.  This implies blending and layering the proposition to match the relationship.  Paying a parking fine is probably assumed to be self-service, getting advice on social care crisis more human facilitated.
  • This debate has to look at end-to-end service and customer or social outcomes, you won’t make good decisions based on the cost and value of single contacts, services or channels. This was felt to be a big challenge in organisations that budget and measure outcomes often in narrow service and channel stove pipes.
  • It was felt that providers and users may be diverging in their technology choices and platforms. Providers still seem stuck with laptops, stand-alone platforms, forms, accounts and portals.  Users have moved to mobile devices, apps and platforms –including social media- with multiple uses.  Why can’t I log in with Face Book?  Why can’t you just grab my contact details?
  • Allowing delivery strategy to become a political issue was seen as a blocker for progress.

Overall the message was that while we must get more self-service to drive costs down and improve use of technology, this has to be done intelligently and as part of a process of re-defining the ‘social contract’ in terms of expectations of what the council and citizen do.

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2 Responses to Digital is dead long live self self-service?

  1. Paul Twine says:

    Hi Gerald,
    Mind set change in Local Gov Officers will go some way to enable digital to be accepted. Old style process thinking ensures old style customer journeys, making customers make contact. If customers can source the information they require through localised interactive digital they do not need to ask about green bins, chase applications or contact the Council at all.

    Many LAs say we are engaging with citizens through old style surveys or ward meetings where the officers say this is what we are planning to implement (what do you think?), basically “tell”. How many are really developing with citizens the new models with digital at the heart.

    I fear the digital express train has left the platform and many LAs are on the slow stopping train!!!

    Trust all is well in your world,

    • admin says:

      Hi Paul,bit of a delay from me, but yes it will be a blocker, as we saw people wanting to keep paper signatures and recipts for cash payments, when the benefits become evident the opposition melts

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