17 April 2015

Service Delivery Transformation in the Public Service

Author :


Bruce McGregor is the Executive Director Customer Service at the Queensland Building; Construction Commission (QBCC). This includes managing the customer experience across all service channels including digital, social, retail; a 24x7 Contact Centre operation.

Recently Bruce McGregor sat down with Loan Kiss the Conference Producer for Akolade’s Service Delivery Transformation Conference, coming to Sydney on 10-12 June 2015, to discuss the challenges the public service industry faces in delivering services to meet the community’s needs.
  

L = Loan Kiss              B: Bruce McGregor

L: First of all, thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to speak to me.

What do you think are the top 3 biggest challenges in service delivery within government agencies at the moment?

B: The three biggest challenges in service delivery within Government I believe are:

Leadership

Unless there is a mandate or a commitment from the very top of your organisation or agency, then service delivery in Government will not fundamentally change. Service delivery transformation is both a customer experience and a cultural change to an organisation. And this change must occur whilst the business is still operating.  Out of the two, the cultural change is the most important to tackle and that requires strong leadership!

Focus

Getting clear and then staying clear on the immediate priorities is tough. So much is typically happening in the business anyway, so it’s important to set the goals upfront and stick to them. That doesn't mean a goal can’t change, but any decision made must be done in context of the overall outcome you are seeking to achieve.

Consistent & Relevant Communications

We work in an industry where change may not have been as prevalent as what other industries have experienced.  If you have worked in both public and private sectors, you will know that the private sector has a market and competitive pressure that we don’t necessarily have in some sections of the Government. However, this is changing as well. But staff, suppliers and key partners of your organisation must be constantly updated on the change and it’s important to get a real sense of the best types of communications tools to use and to keep the messaging constant. When the communications go out, one of the underlying messages to keep outlining is the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) factor.  Keep messaging why the change will be of benefit for staff as they are your internal customer of the service delivery change.

L: What opportunities, from your point of view, can improving service delivery bring to the public sector?

B: There are many. But one I would like to focus on is that every day, 24x7 our customers interact with the services we offer. If we can improve the service delivery aspects, we improve the general public perception of Government being historically a poor service provider. If we improve, then the opportunity to surprise and delight our customers is something the public want to see. This is a good thing for any Government. The additional opportunity this also brings is we can then improve the work-life experience of our internal customers as well.

L: How will your department aim to improve digital engagement and customer experience?

B: Our customer service team at the QBCC are on a journey where we are channel shifting customer services that are predominantly transactional (pay, renew, search) to our Digital channels. Yet digital engagement remains focused on the customer experience. Some examples of this include that we look to design with Digital so we can get twelve clicks on a website down to three. Our channels are now in a responsive design so we cater for any device and we are investing into the development of digital smart forms which connect directly into our CRM. Our QBCC social-media channels are also starting to gain followers and so we’re now moving from a listening focus (one way) to an engagement focus (two way).

Internally, Digital plays a significant role also. We’re re-designing our QBCC Intranet so we can make it simpler and easier for our staff to get access to the information they need to complete their daily tasks.  We've even given it a new name internally. It used to be called ‘Portal’. It’s now called ‘Trevor’!  In turn, we enable our internal customers to be able to deliver a better experience to our external customers.

L: How does your department plan to leverage digital channels within the next 6-12 months?

B: Digital is a part of the QBCC channel story ~ it is not the QBCC channel story. It is easy to get lost in just trying to focus on a digital channel experience without taking into account all channels. I believe if you do this, you’re starting to drift towards a technology outcome and not a customer centric outcome.

The main focus area for our digital channels right now is our digital smartform roll-out. We have spent time calculating our cost to serve across all of our channels and we’re rebuilding our transaction-based services to be an amazing Digital experience versus just an inbound phone call or hand-written, snail mail experience. That doesn't mean we don’t re-design our service experience just for Digital. We design for all channels, but we want (and our customers want) to transact more easily via Digital 24x7. Our Smartform’s connect directly into our CRM, and we’re taking a lot of the friction out when people need to pay us.  This approach does deliver efficiency dividends as we can see where the volumes of higher cost to serve transactions are being transformed to a lower cost to serve transaction.

New digital channels are shortly coming online such as our mobile application services for both Home-owners as well as Builders. As mentioned before, our Social channels are growing and we’re starting to move to a two-way engagement strategy with our customers. Across all of our digital channels, we consistently aim to bring customers back to our website or call us 24x7 if they’re looking for more information.

L: What are your key strategies or tips you could share in building successful service models to produce effective outcomes?

B: We base our service delivery on two key strategies:

  • Prototype and fail fast
  • Design with’ the customer. 

These are not easy strategies to adopt if your business does not currently work that way and hence, why the Leadership from the very top is so important.

Prototyping is having the ability to test ideas quickly with the customer and having the courage to start-again or change. ‘Design with’ takes time and resource, but we have discovered this is super critical to our service delivery experience and we been able to show the benefits early on in the journey.

Our other strategy focuses on getting the right people and partners around you to help map out a path that works for your team, your organisation and can keep your stakeholders happy and supportive along the way.

Our other strategy regarding service delivery is this isn't just about external customers; it is very much about our staff ~ our internal customers.  In many instances you discover that they play a more important role then external customers. This is easy to say, but we have discovered sometimes it is quite hard to achieve as a successful service outcome as we would like.

L: Why did you decide to speak at Akolade’s upcoming Service Delivery Transformation event and what do you hope delegates will get out from your time at the event?

B: I asked to speak at the event so I could learn from others. The QBCC has been on a large service transformation experience since the 1st December 2013 and we are not there yet. So, we still have a lot to learn from other agencies and contacts on what has and hasn't worked for them in their transformation journey.

In return, I am hoping I can now start to offer some insights to others of our experiences of our QBCC journey ~ what has worked well and in particular, what hasn't! Because we are in the public sector, we have a level of freedom to discuss and share insights and experiences of how we have gone about service change, which you sometimes don’t get access to in the private sector.

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