Strong competition among the banks and new offshore payment platforms has spurred large-scale innovation in the transactional space. This level of innovation is delivering the potential for a service revolution for both business and government.
In fact, powerful and innovative point-of-sale devices have enabled government to offer far greater flexibility and a vast array of services and improve service quality, build relationships with citizens and innovate and continuously improve technology functionality, while also managing costs.
Now, citizens can settle multi-provider bills, access government services such as renewing car registration, applying for a seniors’ card, and using a new payment device as a self-service portal located in a bank branch rather than government having to open its own shopfront. This creates greater flexibility for customers and agencies collecting revenue.
Aside from the revolution in transactional service delivery, continuous innovation is resulting in the move towards a paperless government structure that also means an environmental tick of approval.
Nick Aronson, head of transactional banking services for the Commonwealth Bank, says the user experience is getting easier because citizens get to choose how they interact with government — and when.
“Innovation is making it easier for both citizens and governments that have already moved to implement internet and mobile technologies, such as the service initiatives under way in all states,” Aronson said.
Government needs to deliver a customer experience across multiple channels, whether that’s in person or online, he says.“Technology and new approaches to transactions is absolutely the ticket to play these days.”
“Technology and new approaches to transactions is absolutely the ticket to play these days,” Aronson said. “It’s not about an opportunity for government, but about the risk of sitting on the sidelines and letting the benefits of this technology pass them by.”
Modern payment technology innovations can also provide detailed analysis which can be used to drive far more targeted marketing campaigns. For example, revealing unhealthy spending habits by location and demographic groups across alcohol and fast food outlets, which enables governments to identify consumer groups who over-index to these categories. This can kickstart a far more targeted public health marketing strategy.
“Citizens want and expect governments to deliver simpler, faster and more engaging customer experiences,” Aronson said. “You’ve got to remember that in this day and age, technology means that every industry is up for disruption.
“Previously, doing your banking was a trip to the branch and an interaction that was relatively complex by the time you got into your car, drove to the branch and did the transaction you needed to do. Now, it’s about when is the easiest and most convenient time for a citizen to pay a bill or check their license points. That might be half time at the footy, or on a Saturday morning over breakfast.”
The key is to radically simplify the user experience so that citizens realise very quickly that transacting online rather than over a counter is a far easier and faster process. This prompts them to head online again next time.
Paramount to the implementation process is internal change management to ensure staff understand what the change is and how it will benefit both them and the people they serve.
“Training employees and reinforcing habits to build a culture of productivity throughout government is vital,” Aronson said. “It’s also important to coach and build individual capability and begin the deeper organisational transformation.”
Case study: new approach to self-service
Finding a way to enhance service delivery was a paramount to Gold Coast City Council. But given councils operate in a cost-controlled environment, opening additional service centres wasn’t the solution.
As their long-term banking partner, the Commonwealth Bank was approached to offer input and suggest a way forward. Research revealed that a large proportion of citizens on the Gold Coast are happy to engage with council online, opening up new possibilities of service delivery.
The introduction of the bank’s own Albert EFTPOS tablet was the ideal solution, allowing self-service in council offices, or giving other citizens the option to conduct their business at the counter.
The technology is always evolving, with hundreds of developers working for the Commonwealth Bank striving for new ways to simplify processes for customers like the Gold Coast City Council. Aronson says the ability to self-service in a safe and secure environment was really well received.
“The hardware innovation in Albert allows users to literally wake up Albert, scan the barcode of the bill, and manage the payment straight away, without having to add any additional information or data,” he said. “It’s a revolution unlike anything else within the banking space.”
Gold Coast deputy mayor Donna Gates says the council is leading the way by offering the community access to innovative services, making it easy for residents to pay their notices at their convenience.
“This new service will deliver a safe, secure and efficient payment option,” she said. “Many customers prefer to pay their notices over the counter so these kiosks give the Gold Coast community, especially our seniors, an alternative option when paying their rates.
“This self-service payment kiosk means people can avoid queuing and walk into either of these two libraries and pay their rates in the space of a few minutes.”