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Pre-pandemic, human and social services (HSS) organizations globally were dealing with increased consumerism and pressures from government to do more with less, workforce limitations and the need to embrace digital transformation.

Today’s service customers are connected and empowered with information and choice. They expect more from HSS organizations than ever before, including personalized experiences that involve minimal time and effort. People expect to be able to go online, get the information they need and interact with services at any time. As a result, meeting expectations is becoming ever more challenging.

Pre-pandemic, KPMG International commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct an online survey of 345 HSS decision makers in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States to better understand their goals, investments and challenges involved in establishing customer-centric strategies.1 This research revealed the following insights.

  • Globally, nearly 8 out of 10 HSS organizations were making their customer-centric strategy a priority. However, just 40 percent were going above and beyond in delivering on the customer experience. In India, 70 percent were prioritizing customer centricity and 38 percent indicated that they were exceeding customer expectations.
  • Eighty percent of organizations globally planned to invest further in services and customer experience (CX) capabilities. Nearly 7 in 10 organizations said they were providing the right customer services at the right time, but just 5 in 10 said they did so through a range of integrated channels. In India, 88% planned to make investments in services and CX capabilities. 68 percent of respondents from India were providing the right services at the right time and 55 percent were doing so through a range of integrated channels.
  • Relative to the global HSS organizations, HSS organizations in India are somewhat less confident in their responsive operations capability overall (62% for global sample vs. 52% for India). Responsive operations refer to on an organization’s ability to execute its supply chain and asset management, its market/ecosystem positioning, operational strategy, workforce optimization and service integration and co-ordination. The global research revealed that at least two-thirds or more had aligned their workforce, operational strategy, and supply chain in support of their responsive operations efforts, but only about half had successfully integrated their services with that of other providers. In India, HSS organizations roughly followed this global trend, but HSS organizations in India are somewhat more likely to consider their service integration capabilities as effective.
  • Globally, only 37 percent of organizations regarded their data and analytics capabilities as enabling them to deliver effective customer services. In India, we were behind with 26 percent of organizations effectively using data and analytics.#When it came to creating a customer-centric organization and culture supported by ongoing skills development and a nimble, empowered workforce with aligned performance management, only 24 percent of respondents globally rated their organization’s abilities in these areas as excellent. 28 percent of Indian HSS organizations rated themselves excellent in these areas.

In India, we have observed that pre-pandemic challenges have also been amplified as a result of COVID-19 and has forced the sector to transform and cope in new operating environments. Research carried out for KPMG International by Forrester Consulting in May to July 2020 with HSS leaders in 10 countries and territories2 revealed a range of disruptions to business operations, with roughly a third reporting reductions in salaries, increased security risks, increased need to reduce costs, losses of revenue or shifts to a remote workforce.

Embracing digital transformation has been challenging for the sector globally. Governments and human social service providers have consistently responded to increasing demand by spending more on direct services, and consequently their tendency involves not taking a comprehensive approach to investing in technology. That approach was reasonable until about five years ago, but the issues mentioned above, and the speed of change now means that HSS organizations not investing in technology likely will be left behind.

COVID-19 has increased the adoption of technology across the HSS organizations. Research commissioned by KPMG International has found that the global pandemic has caused these organizations to prioritize digital transformation strategies, with 71 percent of respondents accelerating elements of their existing strategies and 67 percent increasing their digital transformation budget.3 Globally, we’ve seen trends in movement to online services, increased collaboration between organizations, and governments pushing services into re-designs based on what customers need. Here in India, we’ve seen all of these trends with organizations leaning towards customer centric strategies with improved focus on data and analytics insights and better technology architecture and enablement.

The pandemic has fundamentally altered many elements of society. For this sector these changes have been rapid but also often positive, as many people have come to appreciate the great value of the Care providers’ workforce’s contribution. Organizations have an opportunity to maintain this positive momentum, adopting better technology to build a new role for HSS in society and the economy.

Transforming any organization is difficult but particularly when it serves some of the most vulnerable members of society.  At KPMG in India, we use our experience and deep understanding of human and social services – coupled with our insights from transformation in other industries, to work with clients to demystify future opportunities and turn them into actionable next steps in a digital transformation journey.

For more on the global factors challenging the sector and driving the need for connected, digitally enabled, and consumer-focused care systems, read KPMG International’s Connected support and care: The future of human and social services. This thought leadership also provides insights of where consumer-centric transformation is taking place in the world, including 50 examples from India.

Contact us today to get more insights on consumer-centricity in Indian HSS organizations, or to get a maturity assessment of your organization's consumer-centric capabilities and insights into how your care system can become more connected.

  1. A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of KPMG, December 2018.
  2. A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of KPMG, May-July 2020.
  3. Ibid.