Government needs a well-defined target of who they are dealing with from a customer interaction perspective in order to ensure they can understand the public's needs, says Patrick Shields of Software AG.
Citizen-centric service delivery will enable the public to hold authorities to account for the promises they made in the build-up to the local government elections on 3 August, 2016.
This is according to Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer at Software AG, who says citizen-centricity has the same objectives as customer centricity, an approach that has already been utilised by some organisations in both the public and private sectors.
"Citizen and customer centricity both aim to reach the same objective. It's an approach that strives to improve the customer journey by understanding all key interactions between consumers and service providers and implementing proactive responses for each of these," Shields says.
He says citizen centricity empowers both public and government organisations to measure performance against election promises through governance models.
"Governance models create a framework of how government plans to align tangible actions against promises and delivery targets. This information empowers the public, and public servants, to identify where the targets have been successfully met and areas which are underperforming," Shields says.
These models encourage the implementation of citizen-centric actions at process level through measuring the quality of services delivered and citizen satisfaction levels.
Citizen centricity can also make a major improvement to the resource capacities of government departments.
"One of the benefits of digitisation and the automation of customer interactions is to free up public servants from menial activities, providing them with more time to spend on genuine citizen and customer interactions." A good example of this in action is the Department of Health's Stock Visibility System which has been rolled out at over 3 100 clinics across South Africa as of July 2016. The system provides for real-time visibility of stock levels in these clinics through graphs and heat maps shortages, with automated alerts for reduced stock levels.
Shields says local governments could learn from the banking industry as an example of how customer centricity benefits both the consumer and the organisation. Banks in South Africa have seen the advantages of customer centricity through enhancing the customer journey by automating banking processes online and using apps. This has freed up employees to focus on tasks that require greater customer interactions, which in turn improves the customer's view of the bank's services. Improved customer journeys in banking have also empowered customers to explore new products and services in an intuitive and efficient way.
This approach to putting people first can be replicated in the public sector, according to Shields.
"Being in a public office is all about delivering life-enhancing services to individuals, families and businesses. To achieve this, however, government needs a well-defined target of who they are dealing with from a customer interaction perspective in order to ensure they can understand the public's needs." However, he says it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to citizen or customer centricity. "This process really depends on the relevant objectives and operational needs of each government organisation or business. While this may appear daunting, it is important for any organisation to know that there are partners out there who can guide you through your unique digital journey," Shields concludes.
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