In the public sector there was a real focus on the digital revolution and the potential impact this can have on public services and citizen experience.
As B2B Director at NS&I, I was fortunate to be invited to talk at the Public Sector Show at ExCeL London (28th June) about how digital has been changing the way NS&I serve and interact with our 25+ million customers.
A citizen-centred approach
NS&I has been through an accelerated digital transformation journey, when you think that the vast majority of our customer transactions still took place in post offices as recently as 2001.
As we started to develop strategies around channel shift it was clear that we could not mandate digital by default. The banks and building societies with which we compete for customer funds do not mandate this, so we would be at a serious disadvantage if we did.
Therefore we have had to pull customers to digital channels, and today we have successfully reduced post office transactions to zero and increased digital transactions to 65%, with a target of 75% by 2018/19.
The role of the CX lab
Today, NS&I is driving the shift to digital using our customer as the starting point. To this end, in 2014 NS&I established a dedicated Customer Experience (CX) lab.
The role of the lab is to help us get inside the minds of our customers; their needs, wants and even emotions when it comes to engaging with us. We test prototypes of our services; literally walking real customers through the journey of each interaction with us. This is done through traditional methods of testing such as focus groups or through specialist technology such as eye tracking software to monitor digital usage.
Sharing our success: Tax-Free Childcare (TFC)
NS&I has been selected to deliver this new service from early 2017, in partnership with HMRC. Our main focus has been to make it as easy as possible for busy working parents to apply. Tax-Free Childcare will be available to around 2 million households. NS&I delivers and manages the online childcare accounts linking up with HMRC who will check eligibility.
We are also building on this service to deliver the Department for Education’s 3 and 4 year old extended free entitlement offer (known as “30 hours’ free childcare”), due to be rolled out next year. Since parents may choose to take up both offers, we are developing a core system whereby they will only be required to apply and fill in their details once and will have all their information in one place. This approach is set to be a real benefit for parents.
We are using our customer experience (CX) testing capability to make sure that every barrier is overcome, and every digital user journey has been played through to eradicate difficulties and arrive at a process that is as intuitive as it can possibly be. We have already conducted multiple rounds of user testing including home visits and focus groups which are driving the development of the online user experience.
Collaborate to innovate
The digital transformation journey is only just beginning for many departments and I believe the more that other departments can collaborate and share their experience, the more we can collectively serve the UK better.
We can share insights and lessons learned. We can work more effectively together and get smarter at pulling customers online to drive down operational costs and also ensure that those who are intended to benefit from key government policies can do so easily.
Share your thoughts
What do you think? How can civil servants use their pressured resources to help improve policy outcomes through collaboration? Do you think greater collaboration between different services is a realistic goal? Is it just an attractive theory or a pragmatic solution to making faster progress, reducing costs, and avoiding having to re-invent the wheel with every new project?
Please get in touch; it would be great to get a discussion going on these topics.