Government agencies that lead the public sector in customer service are focused on developing sophisticated, interactive and transactional capabilities on par with the best of the private sector, according to a new global research report by Accenture.
In the report, Accenture finds a new trend whereby government agencies are reinventing their customer service delivery programs in order to help build greater trust - and this is redefining the relationship between citizens and their governments. From allowing drivers to pay for street parking using their mobile phones to using text messaging for "amber alerts" on missing children to installing interactive kiosks that provide information about city events, dining, shopping and entertainment, government agencies around the world are adopting innovative new approaches to deliver greater value to citizens.
"Leadership in Customer Service: Building the Trust" is Accenture's seventh global report on government service delivery. The report showcases insights from in-depth interviews with 45 high-ranking government executives from the 11 countries that consistently top Accenture's annual survey of governments' use of technology in customer service: Canada, the United States, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Several key findings emerged from the interviews:
- Government agencies that are considered customer service leaders are: 1) introducing services on a par with the best of the private sector, using a range of technologies - from text messaging and mobile applications to kiosks and interactive voice response - to provide unique and interesting services; 2) advancing by putting in place new modes of operation that vary dramatically from the past, including strong new organizational designs, relentless simplification, business reengineering, consolidation, and forays into shared services; and 3) using a combination of four proactive tactics to drive implementation and adoption of their service strategies - the "stick," the "carrot," marketing pull and high-touch push.
- Government agencies are at a critical juncture for service success because they have "reached the limit" with their current approaches to customer service and are re-assessing and re-crafting their customer service strategies to create lasting value.
- Today's customer service leaders won't necessarily be tomorrow's customer service leaders because of the dynamic and constantly changing nature of leading service practices. Remaining in a leadership position in the future will depend upon governments' ability to adapt to change and address new challenges.
"We delved deeply into what contributed to countries' world-leading service programs - addressing both challenges and keys to success," said David Wilkins, global managing director of sales and innovation for Accenture's Government operating group. "The value in this year's study is in the chronicling of the leading practices - anecdotes and lessons learned - of the countries that routinely perform well in our annual study of governments' use of technology."
"Around the world, citizen satisfaction and overall confidence in government's ability to deliver improved services- from benefit awareness to registration, distribution of benefits, and the delivery of services- is at risk of data integrity/theft, and of not meeting citizen location and convenience demands, said Teresa Bozzelli, industry analyst and managing director of Government Insights, an IDC company. "Governments must create a dynamic, safe, infrastructure and securely integrate consumer information to confidently deliver on the promise of uncompromised information and complete services."
According to Accenture, the next wave of "leading" government agencies will deliver customer service that builds an implicit trust between citizens and their government that goes beyond citizen satisfaction. The report also found that government agencies are creating increasingly local citizen touch points. By building local connections with the people they govern, for example by opening local government offices or creating citizen service call centers, government agencies are better able to incorporate reliable customer feedback into the design of services.
In addition to interviews with high-ranking government officials, the report also comprised a survey of 8,600 citizens in 21 countries to gauge their opinions of how well their government agencies fared in service delivery. Among the key findings from that survey:
- In 20 out of 21 countries, citizens felt private-sector business was doing a better job than government in developing online services, with Singapore the only country where citizens felt the opposite was true. The largest gap (27 percent) in positive perception was in the United States, where two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents said private-sector business was doing a good or excellent job in developing online services, while only 38 percent said the same about government.
- Despite a growing recognition of the value of marketing for increasing citizen use of online services, its application by government has been limited. As a result, usage rates for online government services have remained relatively flat over the past year.
- In more than half the countries surveyed, the percentage of citizens who reported that government services and departments work together at least fairly effectively is declining.
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