Enabling connected experiences to evolve the relationship between government and citizens

By Ed Bridgeland

Monday July 5, 2021

As the thinking and service offer around life events evolve, there are five different pathways for maturing government approaches and offerings to citizens.
As the thinking and service offer around life events evolve, there are five different pathways for maturing government approaches and offerings to citizens. (xixinxing /Adobe)

Recent years have seen a shift in government thinking — accelerated by the pandemic — to prioritise the citizen experience in service delivery, rather than continue with traditional, siloed government processes. The relationship between government and citizenry is changing, and this is a good thing for both sides.

In Australia, the public sector is increasingly taking a ‘life event’ approach. This involves bringing a range of different services together at a point in time when citizens need the most support at crucial moments like the birth of a child, changing jobs, or dealing with the death of a loved one. The NSW state government, for example, has identified eight life events, ranging from starting a family to end-of-life planning.

As momentum builds behind this thinking, what are the key capabilities required to evolve and broaden this approach so governments can deliver connected experiences with citizens across the full spectrum of service needs?

Pathways for evolving a life-events approach to government service

As the thinking and service offer around life events evolve, there are five different pathways for maturing the approach and offer to citizens.

  • Service scope is about broadening the service reach around a particular event, bringing more stakeholders and therefore connections into the offering. A great example of this is some of the death notification services that governments have introduced, where more and more public and private sector organisations are included in the ‘tell us once’ model. 
  • Content personalisation is around how much governments are able to personalise the content displayed to citizens based on the characteristics or previous interactions. Australian federal government services minister Stuart Robert’s description of “going from Blockbuster to Netflix” is a perfect summary of this evolution.
  • Support level is focused on the extent that information is applied to help citizens, from relatively passive guidance that relies on the citizen reading and responding as required, to more enhanced models that might use ‘case’ support or even predictive and prescriptive analytics to recommend specific services. 
  • Cohort specialisation is a pathway that considers opportunities to build less-common service needs that can still have a major impact on an individual, such as experiences of domestic violence. 
  • Event scale recognises that across all these pathways there are opportunities to keep broadening the thinking from less regular, more significant events to interactions with government that might occur on a regular basis.

What is required

Establishing and maturing across any of these pathways requires far more than a refreshed portal or two. Creating a connected experience with citizens needs a common set of business features, technology requirements and foundational enablers that will be required to progress them.

Business features

Governments must know the needs, motivations, preferences and pain points of their citizens to enable more connected experiences.

We group the business features that enable this into four key customer-focused elements – help, support, understand, and reassure. All of these business features are likely to be required across different points of citizen journey around a life event, though the timing and importance of each feature will vary depending on the type of event and starting point for the citizen.

Technology requirements

All of this thinking starts with good insights on what citizens need and when across the government system, so the underlying technologies to capture, analyse and connect to services based on these insights are critical to the whole approach.

From a technology perspective, the key platforms that are critical to this thinking are customer relationship managers to really a single view of the customer, management of customer preferences, maintenance of customer records, and record of consent preferences, and content and experience management platforms allowing for authoring and publishing and especially personalisation at scale.

Foundational enablers

Finally, there are three, key foundational elements that governments are building to enable and mature these approaches.

  1. Flexible service delivery models, to harness the different policy, design and delivery responsibilities into a whole that balances important policy-related accountabilities with the whole citizen or whole event perspective that is required in these circumstances
  2. Whole of government orchestrator, to capture whole of system citizen insights and constructively disrupt the rest of government to relentlessly drive perspectives and outcomes that cut across existing departments
  3. Creativity & innovative thinking, to look for and design new connections across government to really enhance the citizen service experience. 

Ultimately the aim is to improve the lives of Australians and their interaction with the government. Cutting across government departments and providing a more holistic and horizontal view will have a huge impact on those who need it most.


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