Friday, March 1, 2024

Customer experience #1 digital transformation driver for councils

Customer experience is the number one factor driving digital transformation within local governments – ahead of cost reduction and cybersecurity – according to recent research from TechnologyOne and Local Government Professionals Australia.

The organisations surveyed more than a fifth of Australia’s 537 metropolitan, regional, and rural councils to benchmark their progress on digital transformation.

According to the 2022 Local Government Digital Transformation Index, 35% of the organisations surveyed said customer-facing reasons were the main drivers of digital transformation, while 76% believe their communities want them to be more digitally progressive.

This focus on customer experience outweighs other considerations like reducing costs, improving compliance and even cybersecurity, the report states. However, the research pre-dates recent high-profile breaches, says Peter Suchting, General Manager for Local Government at TechnologyOne.

“You would expect cyber-security, and in particular data privacy, to be much, much higher on the list of considerations when asked these questions again next year. After all, councils are entrusted with some highly sensitive personal information. We’re already seeing strong signs of this change,” he said.

The 2022 Digital Transformation Index suggests councils have undergone a significant shift in outlook since the pandemic; toward a perception of themselves as service organisations and an increased use of digital technology in both the back-office and community-facing, front-of-house services.

“The events of the last three years; the bushfires, COVID and then floods; have reminded everyone of the central role councils play in communities. We all, as community members, have very different expectations of our councils than a few years ago,” Mr Suchting continued.

“At the same time, councils are also setting the service bar higher and benchmarking themselves against other service organisations. They often find the road to improved customer experience invariably starts with improving the underlying technology. The research shows that for many councils, customer experience is a driving force in the council’s recent decision to move its IT systems.”

An increasing number of councils are rolling out TechnologyOne’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP), which allows councils to provide citizen-centric services for their community 24/7. It ensures residents can engage with the council when and how it is most convenient for them. DXP is powered by a centralised knowledge base used by staff and the website, giving councils the assurance they are providing correct advice every time.

Adopting TechnologyOne’s DXP Local Government (DXP LG) solution helped the City of Canning (pictured) further enhance their digital evolution, allowing council to reimagine their customer experience, says Digital Solutions Architect Neil Allen.

“One of the main challenges to overcome was managing disparate content and information between separate systems. Our website content was disconnected from our internal knowledge base. We also wanted to streamline our customers’ online journey when searching for information, with a simpler and more intuitive interface, providing the ability for self-service,” Mr Allen said.

“We wanted additional functionality that fully integrated with our existing TechnologyOne OneCouncil solution. We saw the opportunity to be an early adopter of the Local Government Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and understood it would provide us with the ability to really influence the direction and development of the platform. Having a single source of truth via DXP LG ensures that our customers can access consistent service information regardless of which channel they choose to engage with us on.

“DXP LG provides us with an easy-to-use platform to provide up-to-date service information that our staff and the community are seeking. This improves staff efficiencies by reducing service request calls and increasing call resolution times as customers are better informed when calling the city.”

LG Professionals Australia President, Jonathan Throssell said customer expectations and community demand had evolved to be digital-first.

“To their credit, most councils pivoted to digital service delivery in very short time frames. Now that digital services are becoming the norm, councils are looking to capitalise on the momentum and digitise even more of their operations,” Mr Throssell said.

“Councils are strongly committed to improving the way they do business and ensuring their communities get the digital-enabled services they need.”

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