8 recommendations for delivering a successful Self-Service Platform
As public sector organisations face up to a combination of shrinking budgets, rising costs and increased demand, delivering services through self-service is becoming an essential cornerstone of the digital transformation necessary to improve service delivery whilst reducing costs.
Over the next five years, the public sector faces some huge challenges. A growing and aging population will put additional pressure on services - pressure that must be met with significantly reduced budgets.
As well as financial pressures, public sector organisations must keep up with the demands of a population accustomed to conducting transactions and finding information online and via mobile devices. Even today, analysis of GOSS clients' web traffic shows that upwards of 40% of transactions take place outside of office hours and upwards of 50% of web interactions with councils take place on mobile devices.
To meet these challenges, digital self-service is no longer optional - it's essential.
Based on feedback from over 350 public sector leaders, we provide the following recommendations
1. Use self-service as a powerful weapon in the battle against budget deficits
Self-service offers a fast way to reduce costs, improve service delivery and free up budget to focus on core services. Our clients regularly achieve Return on Investment (ROI) in less than two months. South Tyneside's bin collection dates and Wolverhampton City Council's tip permit requests both achieved fast ROI. This year each public sector organisation expects to save £1.4m growing to a total of over £8.47m in three years with self-service.
2. Put digital inclusion at the heart of your strategy
Any self-service strategy must address the issue of digital inclusion. More than 6 million adults in the UK have never used the internet, and public sector bodies have a duty to address their needs and the needs of those without the skills or capacity to use digital channels. Assisted Service can help customers shift to digital channels over time, where appropriate, while providing a single service platform rather than having digital and non-digital service silos.
3. Gather the data before you begin
Without baseline data on current transactions, self-service strategies will be flawed and progress cannot be measured. Data gathering is critical to establish where you are, identify where you want to get to, and assess whether your self-service project achieves its expected benefits. GOSS Transfromation specalists can assist with Channel Insight.
4. Take a more strategic approach
For those organisations planning to move from 5% self-service today to 75% or more in the next three years, a coherent strategy is needed. Ensure there is strategic ownership at board level of the self-service programme, but be sure to include input from all departments. It is only with a data-driven business case based on fast ROI that organisations can get away from incremental changes and make the huge leap necessary to achieve their goals.
5. Visualise your organisation 10 years from now
Self-service is one step on a long journey to becoming a digital council of the future. In 10 years' time, today's younger people will be the main population, bringing with them all the expectations of digital natives. Budgets will also have been significantly reduced, creating additional pressures on service delivery. When you can visualise what your organisation will look like in 10 years, the next step is to start building a platform today that will support you to get there.
6. Start with the customer and with usability in mind
To be successful, self-service must be the channel of choice for your customers, which means that above all it must be easy to use. A simple, intuitive experience is essential to encourage engagement from customers with all levels of digital skills. It's also important that information is easy to find and transactions are fast and easy to complete. By following a , organisations can put the customer at the heart of their transformation.
7. Integration is the key to smart self-service
By integrating self-service with business processes and back-end systems, you can create online forms that are more interactive and intelligent, with auto-complete features and the ability to give customers smart recommendations about services or further information they may need. Understanding current Business Process Management and re-mapping them is the first step to streamlining processes.
8. The benefits may be clear, but they must be communicated
As with any big change, marketing is an essential component of any self-service project. Internally, the cultural change must be managed effectively and staff who may not have the relevant experience or skills need to be encouraged to start thinking digitally. Externally, customers must be made aware of the move to self-service and of the benefits they'll get - highlighting how it will make it quicker, easier and more convenient to find what they need.
Data for this blog came from research undertaken by GOSS Interactive, Digital Self-Service Survey 2015