Why public sectors should lead the customer experience agenda

2020.09.08

Wisia Neo

PERSPECTIVES

Where citizen engagement surrounds governments from end to end, public sectors must elevate their customer experience for citizens to feel heard, and productively. Meeting private sector standards aren’t easy, but AI can help.

 

The cornerstone of every government is citizen engagement

The government holds the position as the principal authority of the state—and there is much on their plate. They are accountable for the economic growth, maintenance of a social framework, rule of law, provision of public goods, services and much more. Yet, at the core of each tenet is citizen engagement. It is especially salient as the end goal of all governments, where all initiatives are designed to culminate in having citizens being well provided and cared for. Citizen engagement is also increasingly used at the onset of all initiatives by the public sector, where touchpoints are leveraged as insight to drive the direction of citizen-oriented government action. It is an unwavering theme behind all public sectors, speckled in each state initiative, from end to end.
Authors Janet and Robert Denhart aptly put, “From an instrumental or ‘smart’ perspective, we should work to increase citizen involvement because governments cannot solve public problems alone. Effective governance increasingly requires active and ongoing citizen participation in planning, policymaking, implementation, and service delivery. The complexity of the problems facing government demands citizen involvement and acceptance, if not active cooperation”

 

How a citizen-engaged country drives better services and productivity

What does it mean when a state successfully engages its citizens? Simply put, the public sector would be able to provide better services, and accomplish this with better productivity. Citizen engagement touchpoints create valuable data, which represent opportunities to gain insight. When these touchpoints exponentially multiply, the potential for highly valid interpretations that can benefit businesses and the economy is truly quite endless. Governments no longer need to be stuck in an inefficient trial and error process but rely on a closed feedback loop driven by regular citizen inputs to refine state actions for citizens.

citizen engagement data points

 

Innovative tools must be used to bolster better citizen engagement

This is why many states are already increasingly stepping up citizen engagement to connect with their people especially in such trying times. In terms of tools to use, engagement founded on digital communications is on the rise because of the affordances of technology and the more recent disruption of physical touchpoints. At the same time, technology enables governments to reach out to the masses, yet without compromising on providing an experience that feels personalized. The shift to digital civic service is both a push and pull, but not a detrimental move, because it capitally enhances service and productivity concurrently, and also only if done well. In Granicus’ words, there is “a growing trend toward interest in new technologies, further reinforcing the importance of interactivity and accessibility.” However, nailing citizen engagement is much easier said than done.

 

The challenge of a citizen-engaged country is that a lot of feedback is not taken in, processed and actioned on.

As automated and digital initiatives increase, so do data. Statista projects that the volume of data created and consumed worldwide in the year 2024 is an astounding 149 zettabytes. To better contextualise this, the volume stood at 41 zettabytes in 2019, and 12.5 zettabytes another 5 years ago in 2014. The amount of data correlates to an unlimited potential for generating useful insight. “Organizations that best harvest insights from the data value chain differentiate themselves”, says Ganes Kesari for The Enterprisers Project on data-driven business transformation.

Yet, what stands in the way is in the management of the size and scope of data churned from citizens—unstructured information. With multiple platforms today, such as social media posts and comments, email complaints, customer service phone enquiries and more, the scope of scattered, unstructured data is increasingly complex to manage. Public servants will find it progressively difficult to collect and organize information. Finding and using the right data is yet another closely linked challenge, where bodies of government employees must be adept in utilizing data as information to critically calculate their citizen engagement action points. They must do so with productivity and efficacy, in the leanest possible way—which is far from what is seen today in the public sector.

troves of data

 

AI as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of the government

Today, intelligent information technology is already leveraged, but often as the ‘hands’ and ‘legs’ of the government—executing repetitive and low value tasks. For example, Deloitte found possible applications of robotic process automation in a major UK police force in the automation of traffic offences, updating alcohol licenses, supporting crime reporting and more. However, AI can further bridge the gap as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of the government, to not just execute the repetitive, lower value tasks, but intelligently process troves of data to achieve value beyond the human level.

“I think we’re still underestimating how much we’re going to get out of [AI] over time as it evolves. I think it’s going to surprise us…we’re going to look back and say, I can’t believe we used to do things that way”, according to Accenture on their reflection of AI in governments. AI’s capabilities such as natural language processing computer vision can further automate more complicated tasks, and from end to end. These intelligent processes get embedded from data collection and extraction, to the management and retrieval of extensive data. Troves of data are not just saved, but synergised into decision making, through valuable AI-driven data analytics that are descriptive, predictive and even prescriptive. “Today, AI is moving big data decisions to points further down the timeline, in more accurate ways”, These analytics have “the potential to provide company-wide, forward-looking strategic insights helping to advance the business.” says Sean Werick, managing director of analytics at Sparkhound on The Enterprisers Project.

leveraging AI

 

Governments must set the standard

Citizens’ expectations of state engagement are going up. They are increasingly comparing government initiatives to elevations in customer service they experience elsewhere, particularly in private industries. Together, customer-centric digital touchpoints become a new public demand that must be met. Public sectors must adapt to provide better, more innovative, and highly tailored services to make citizens feel connected and cared for. Serving citizens well fosters a more cooperative citizen-government relationship; this harmonizes state-driven initiatives with citizen needs to effectively close the feedback loop.

The UAE represents one of the most citizen-centric governments that have understood the gravity of such standards setting. Government entities are roused to enhance their public services through the Global Star Rating System for Services, which uses private-sector standards and approaches as the benchmark for assessment.

Singapore has also been driving AI-backed citizen-centric initiatives to the forefront, acknowledging how citizen engagement and data work hand-in-hand in an iterative loop. From the data collection and customer service standpoint, chatbots are an especially popular tool for the Singapore public sector to offer top-class, personalized engagement at scale. It is predicted that “by 2022, people living in Singapore will be able to report municipal issues via a chatbot that asks for details in real time and automatically identifies the correct government agency in charge”. AI is further supporting state decision making, with AI algorithms also set in place to predict maintenance needs in public housing estates in Singapore by 2025. There is no longer any room for error with data-driven insights; state actions hit the nail on the head to directly address citizen needs, and are delivered with ‘private-sector’ worthy standards that make each citizen feel wholly heard and cared for.

AI governance and leadership

 

Hear how TAIGER helped Singapore digitally transform

Being headquartered in Singapore, TAIGER is fortunate to have played a key role in Singapore’s avid AI adoption. We have worked with almost every ministry in the Singapore government and have since garnered an extensive use case portfolio. In an effort to further vitalise more governments towards AI mobilisation, we shared three case studies in Singapore at the Emerging Technology for Government Digi-Conference organized by GM Events to over 50 decision makers from the public sector. These case studies touch on the application of the three products in TAIGER’s arsenal that have received broad success in the Singapore government, and help put into perspective the possibilities of AI augmentation. Watch the presentation by requesting for a copy here, or get in touch with us directly to find out how you can lead the digital transformation in your organization.

TAIGER presents The New Normal - Digital Governments & Smart Cities

 

 

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