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Customer service and automation – what will really deliver success in local government?

Robotics, automation and AI are all hot topics right now and the way we all choose to interact with services changes daily.

Organisations are rapidly changing their strategies from traditional call centre models to delivering a multi-channel customer experience.  We now live in a world where we expect to be able to contact services in any way that suits, at any time and receive an immediate, personalised response. 

It’s a tough challenge for any organisation to be able to achieve, but particularly within local government where finances don’t quite meet our pressures and there is a continuous drive to deliver more for less.  Add to this, the fear factor (will the technology work? is the Robot Army taking over?) and political pushback (do I need to make the whole of my front door contact workforce redundant?) and you can start to understand why many councils are talking about automation but haven’t yet taken the steps to implement it.  

But as we work alongside local authorities to deliver outstanding customer experience, it becomes clearer that the Robot Army is not about to exterminate the role of the traditional customer service advisor from the face of the earth. 

The reality is automation and AI will only exist and function if a human creates it to do so.  And ideally you want experienced and knowledgeable humans who understand your business to create and continually improve these automated services.  The success of automation is operationally driven, not technology driven. And the technology is already here, but the ability to deliver within a local government working environment is still very much in its infancy. 

The challenge is threefold:

  • How do I really understand the expectations and experience of our customers so we can use automation and AI to deliver the right service to meet their needs?

  • How do I create a new working environment that can continually meet my customers changing expectations

  • How can I enable my current workforce to deliver this new customer experience

So where could we start? What are the questions we need to ask to help us find the answers:

  • Do we really understand our customers’ experience and expectations – could human centred design help us to articulate and redesign our services?

  • How do we develop a more agile working environment where we can quickly iterate?

  • How do we make sense of the vast amount of new data we have and how will it help us to operationally deliver?

  • How do we re-skill our customer service advisors of today to be our service designers of the future – what are the new talents they need; service designers, process-mappers, developers, testers?

    For local authorities, this is a huge cultural shift and changes both the business model and traditional staffing roles – a true service redesign and we know this takes time. But what an exciting challenge!   
Photo of Becky Davis

Becky Davis

Principle consultant, Customer UX, Capita Transformation

Becky joined Capita with 15 years’ experience of working within local government with transformation expertise across adult social care, health & care services, housing and back office operations. She now specialises in digital service redesign and customer UX, using a collaborative, creative approach to help her clients to understand the drivers for delivering services in the way that we do today and design solutions that meet customers future expectations.

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