Partly borne out of necessity in these austere times, partly in response to changing consumer habits, digital customer service is the bedrock of the public sector.
Driven by the tech-focused end-user experiences of firms such as Amazon and Uber, citizens – we should probably think of them as customers – now expect a similar user experience from the public sector as they do from the B2C world. Research among telecommunications customers shows that those who use digital channels for service transactions are one-third more satisfied, on average, than those who rely on traditional channels.
However, this is only the case if technology works. For example, self-service portals are a preferred communication channel, but surveys show that customers are getting frustrated if they cannot get their enquiry resolved quickly and comprehensively.
Start with paper
In order to ensure a positive customer experience, it is key to give citizens a choice of digital and analogue communication channels. And this is where the need to turn to intelligent information capture comes to the fore. The automation of business processes and the ability to fully utilise data captured from various sources relies on next generation information capture and process automation. This requires digital information, so paper documents need to be digitised as early as possible in the agency workflow.
Customers expect their experience to be continuous and consistent as they migrate from one platform to another, but they also want service options that make sense in the context in which they are asking for help. Capturing information from all channels to establish a 360 degree view encompassing all data, is a critical foundation for this.
Adding intelligence to information capture
With the above in mind, what does the future of information capture look like in agency workplaces of the future? In a nutshell, it means moving from traditional document capture to intelligent information capture, which can be summed up as follows:
- It starts with the nature of the inputs: business inputs used to arrive in paper form only. Today, there is still a significant volume of paper-based inputs, but there is also a deluge of digital inputs to be managed. These exploding volumes of mostly unstructured data often lead to pretty chaotic situations as some of these input streams need to be processed manually and/or are handled in silos. This needs to change.
- Digitisation used to be focused on converting a paper document into a digital image – just like converting a paper filing cabinet into a digital filing cabinet. While this is still important, the focus is now shifting from the image to the data in the image and the ability to extract this data based on rules for a particular process.
- The focus is shifting from the government’s primary objectives to reduce resources and costs, to better serving citizens. This is tightly linked with the shift from a back-office focus to front-office applications playing a key role. In these front-office capture situations, the requirements are very different, as the staff doing the capture are now knowledge workers and the experience conveyed to the end customers involved likely have a direct impact on their overall satisfaction.
The way businesses serve customers is undergoing significant change. This will transform how government agency staff interact with citizens and it will drive disruptive change in information capture. Capture is a key building block in digital transformation, especially as digital processes demand digital inputs and the processing of them in a very automated and intelligent way.
All-in-all, information capture is no longer a back-office operation problem. Capture is shifting from scan to archive to scan to process. Capture requirements are impacted by a stronger business need to simplify the process and a push to reduce manual steps. This is particularly important in capturing inputs, as it has far reaching consequences for the automation of the entire process. Get this right and significant cost savings can be realised whilst also delivering enhanced digital customer service.