Changing channels in the public sector
In the current economic climate, the public sector, like all industries, needs to increase efficiency so that it can operate within tighter budgets. But what is vital is that all citizens still receive a high quality customer service that meets their specific needs.
The positive news is that technology has the power to deliver this combination of efficiency and good service. As the population switches more and more to using web and mobile technologies, the aim is to make services ‘Digital by Default’. This means that while some groups will still require face to face or phone contact the majority of people will be able to interact with the public sector through online channels. This transformation should deliver better, more tailored service and operational efficiencies, benefiting everyone involved.
The move to Digital by Default is the key driver behind Capita’s Channel Shift in the Public Sector conference, taking place on Tuesday 25th September. It aims to spread best practice on moving to new channel structures and will feature speakers from the Cabinet Office, NHS Direct and a large number of councils.
Eptica will be exhibiting at the conference, showcasing its work with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA), which has transformed telephone customer service for its 3 million annual calls after implementing Eptica’s centralised knowledge management system. By using Eptica NHS BSA has seen training time drop by 30% and the number of staff deployed on the service desk has been reduced by a third. In a recent survey 72% of agents said that the system, named Sherlock had made their jobs easier. Sherlock is now receiving over 2,000 queries per day from agents and the project is predicted to save £121,000 in its first year of operation, rising to £162,000 per annum in the future.
From Eptica’s experience we’ve outlined five key areas where the public sector can use digital channels to increase efficiency and service levels:
1 Introduce web self-service
The majority of questions received by public sector bodies are requests for information, rather than specific questions about a particular case. So introduce web self-service systems that let people ask questions in their own words on your website, at anytime day or night, rather than having to call or email.
2 Arm your staff with consistent knowledge
Whatever channel citizens contact you on, they expect consistent answers. Use a centralised knowledgebase that is available across all channels to ensure that every question is answered accurately. This not only improves service, but increases efficiency as you only have one set of answers to keep updated.
3 Make it appealing
To ensure that people move to new channels you need to make them easy, simple and intuitive to use. Give your web self-service system a human identity, by branding it with a smiling face and an appealing name, such as Ask Anna. Giving new technology a personality isn’t just for the public – NHS BSA branded its new knowledge management system for its 230 agents Sherlock and was rewarded by increased usage and buy-in.
4 Embrace social media
Many public sector organisations, particularly councils, are already using social media to communicate and engage with their audiences. Make sure you are monitoring for mentions of your organisation so you can answer customer service questions and use channels such as Twitter and Facebook to inform people about what you are doing when it comes to news and campaigns.
5 Learn from feedback
Online channels provide the perfect way of easily collecting feedback that can directly help you improve services. If 90% of all the questions asked on your website are on the same subject, then look at how you can change information to make it simpler to understand. Also use social media to collect feedback and suggestions from the public and see how they could improve your operations.
To see more about how NHS BSA is using Eptica to improve customer service, read the full press release here.