COVID -19 has driven healthcare organizations within the public sector to innovate at an accelerated rate. In fact, the public sector generally has had to rapidly implement new technology, to adjust to heightened demand and a new way of working. Remote working technology, upgrading IT infrastructures and cyber security solutions all ensured the effective delivery of public sector services during the challenging period.
“Citizen-as-customer” centricity has emerged as a key consideration in transformation initiatives across the Public Sector. Public service users are no longer content to be passive recipients of public services. Instead, behaviors and expectations are changing; consumers want to be engaged and active in administrative processes, to be informed of the status of their requests, and be able to ask for help on any topic at any time. Citizens expect the best from their Public Sector experience, with simple and easy-to-use services and immediate, 24/7 access to information.
Automation (unified case management, bots, AI, and consumer-grade user experience) is being scaled up, enabling workers to spend less time on routine tasks such as filling in forms and more time on higher-value work than cannot be through intelligent automation.
The rapid adoption of new technologies is bringing its own unique set of problems and opportunities for government agencies tasked with delivering customer services.
These can be seen through the lens of the Six Pillars as follows:
The increasing adoption of AI based technology across all aspects of public services brings with it some ethical considerations, including how decisions made by algorithms are transparent and fair. Increasing transparency of algorithmic decision making is therefore a significant area of examination.
Numerous pilots are under way using AI-driven chatbots which have human-like avatars to strike a balance between digital capabilities and the personal human interaction for citizens contacting the public sector with queries. These ‘digital humans’ are driven by robotics and AI to interpret the mood of customers and deliver improved service through empathetic behavior and actions. Innovations such as these will help drive citizen uptake of digital channels for interacting with government departments to fulfil simple requests
“Consumer grade” development is the mantra; customers now expect the same level of digital service from all aspects of public services.
Time and Effort
Governments recognize that like their commercial counterparts they must be more flexible and responsive to changing citizen needs. The use of agile methodologies coupled with design thinking is radically reducing time to implementation.
The public sector more and more deploys personalized e-government services. Personalization offers great opportunities to make communication more effective and efficient, to infer and predict citizens' behavior and to even influence behavior.
Historically, government processes and technology have been accused of an empathy gap, a failure to see the world through the citizens eyes and make access to government services simple and intuitive. This is changing as human centered design thinking is being embraced by government digital departments and anthropologists and ethnographers play a greater role in design. In the UK GDS (Government Digital Services) have set up an Accessibility Empathy Lab, to enable user centered design.
The Customer Experience Leaders
The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia leads our public sector index. It is an organization focused on innovation and improvement. The Ministry’s Innovation Centre was established in 2016 and oversees developing ideas and accelerating the implementation of quality projects. This happens according to a design thinking methodology that aims to redesign services and create highly effective products to improve health care. It harnesses the ideas of its employees through its “Ideate to Innovate” award scheme. It is currently developing a system of accountable care organizations, for which IT and digital health are the foundational blocks, ensuring end to end connectivity across the provision of healthcare. The new model of care implementation aims to put patients at the center of the healthcare system and involves the roll-out of primary care across the kingdom.1
Guichet.lu This front-office portal aims to streamline citizens’ and businesses’ interactions with public agencies, offering fast, 24/7, user-friendly access to all government services and information. Government-funded and run by CTIE, the government’s IT center, Guichet.lu divides into two main sections: Citizens and Business. Gilles Feith, CTIE Director, describes Guichet.lu as a “one-stop-shop for Luxembourgers for any administrative procedure, offering unique and transparent access to the workings of their government and its agencies.” The website features a repository of approximately 1,500 citizen-centered administrative procedures, from tax returns to birth registrations, and useful guidance is available to businesses on applying for permits, government subsidies, and registering as an employer for social security purposes.2
Solidaris and Partena are mutual health organizations that act as a gateway to health services and social security in Belgium. They are intermediaries between the INAMI (National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance) and its clients and makes it possible to: obtain reimbursements for healthcare (hospital, doctor, pharmacy, etc.) and receive replacement income if you are unable to work (accident, long-term illness, childbirth.)
Digital development, innovation and customer centricity are important values for these Belgian companies. In particular, how they connected with customers during the pandemic. Partena has added CX video calling or ‘beeldbellen’ to their channels for customer contact, whilst Solidaris participated in a digital inclusion project ensuring digital, mobile devices were available to those that needed them most to maintain contact and access services.3
COVID-19 has accelerated a trend that was well underway, with citizens expecting a better experience of government services. Governments need to rethink their operations from the citizen perspective, and consider what changes may be required to their processes, workforce training and technology mix. This will be fundamental to public trust going forward.
Public sector industry Hall of Fame 2021
Bierger-Center (Administration Communale)
Central Provident Funds (CPF)
Employees Provident Fund (EPF)
Ministry of Commerce
Ministry of Health
Ministry of HR and Social Development
3 https://www.24sessions.com/blog/news/partena-ziekenfonds-launches-video-calling-for-health-insurance https://www.educationsolidarite.org/en/the-solidaris-mutual-benefit-society-and-the-education-and-solidarity-network-participated-in-the-world-forum-on-social-security/