What start-ups do differently in service delivery

By The Mandarin

Monday November 23, 2015

Almost universally, start-up businesses put their customer at the heart of everything, and creating a personalised, frictionless experience is the priority. The mobile context dominates — services delivered anytime, anywhere.

In its move to providing Australians with an ever-improving service when interacting with government, there’s an opportunity for governments across Australia to take a lot from The Lean Startup playbook, which espouses an approach of rapid design and development, examining customer feedback, and frequent iterations in a build-measure-learn cycle. This approach provides an environment where teams are encouraged to make quick decisions before investing heavily in a platform that may later fall victim to budget concerns or fail to meet ever-changing design needs. The Lean Startup Playbook encourages teams to “pivot” — or change course on the fly to suit real-time feedback to ensure projects remain true to their set goals.

The start-up entrepreneur starts with the end in mind, with millions of engaged customers interacting from anywhere in the world, anytime, supported by a platform that can scale very flexibly, very fast. They may outsource non-core services in order to keep the spotlight unwaveringly on customer experience. Avanade believes the key to long-term success in delivering government services for the Australian population will be breaking down siloed and duplicated services, and accelerating the government-as-a-platform movement, powered by modular, fully integrated building blocks of business and technology architecture that span agencies and services.

1. Leading on social

Government has traditionally been a social media laggard, with promotion of individual politicians typically a higher priority than service delivery. In contrast, start-ups tend to be at the vanguard of social engagement. Government has an unparalleled opportunity to follow the start-up lead, and accelerate its use of social platforms on multiple fronts, enabling citizens to become involved directly in the redesign of better public services. Social data — when blended with other insights via a fully integrated platform — helps build a more complete picture of the individual, powering the most personalized, relevant experiences.

2. Blending physical and digital services

Another recent trend has been to create opportunities to use digital technologies to enhance the physical experience. For example, AirBnB, which connects potential guests with those offering short-term accommodation, is branching out into companion services, connecting travelers with locals to help with recommendations on what to do or where to eat nearby. Government might use data to build out new services for citizens with special circumstances, such as monitoring the health and wellbeing of elderly citizens through a smart, connected home that can detect via a wearable sensor, for example, when the citizen has a fall.

3. Balancing convenience with privacy

Governments are entrusted with a myriad of intimate information about the lives of every Australian citizen, including family status, income, medical and employment data. However, the trust equation is very different when dealing with government than for most other industries.

While many consumers are happy to let a dinner host know they are running late via a notification service, they might not necessarily want their circle of friends to know they have qualified for Family Tax Benefit B because they’re below the eligible income threshold. Governments have more than reputational damage at stake if personal data is inadvertently shared without explicit permission. With a fast-evolving array of data sources and types, a digital footprint can paint an increasingly vivid picture of many aspects of everyday lives.

Recently, the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended new regulatory mechanisms to address emerging privacy issues. However, where technology progress continues to outpace government’s ability to respond, the threat of a serious invasion of privacy remains.

Another dimension to the privacy issue is personalisation — the drive towards offering more tailored services to individuals based on data from previous interactions. Personalisation is a significant trend in today’s customer experience landscape, but there can be a fine line between a government agency or a business offering extremely personalised, highly relevant services against an experience that makes a customer feel their privacy has been violated.

The Australian government needs to work to protect citizens’ rights around a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in this new era of big data and personalisation. It’s also critical to set clear guidelines on privacy audit requirements, while also keeping a close watch on international best practice examples in this complex, fast-changing field.

4. The ‘user-centric approach’

To pursue the dream of integrated service delivery from government services, Avanade suggests a user-centred design approach, where people may simply think “government”, without the demarcations of federal, state and local. Taking a cue from the most successful start-ups, creating a personalised, frictionless experience is a key objective. Integration of a range of data insights will facilitate a more proactive recommendation of services, benefits and actions tailored to a citizen’s personal circumstances.

The government’s vision for common government solutions and shared platforms can indeed be a reality. Just imagine accessing a government digital service which transcends the traditional boundaries of your address, the specific agency or government tier. A social media recipe that gets open government and citizen engagement just about right. And the experience is beautiful, fast — and maybe even a little delightful — on whatever device is used to access it. A little more of this start-up-style thinking might help pave the way to a government re-imagined.

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