5 Opportunities for councils to improve customer centricity
Here’s a common conundrum for councils: your strategic goals depend on being able to put customers first, but investing in better customer-facing digital systems is on the back-burner.
Our 2023 Customer Centricity Survey report revealed that less than half of Australians think their council is customer centric.
And while technology is never the whole answer: we were surprised that 40% of councils surveyed are allocating less than 25% of their digital transformation budgets to software or systems. Additionally, half of councils are allocating less than 10% of their budgeted spend towards customer centricity.
Why is this a surprise? Time spent online, and tech-powered convenience and personalisation has become ubiquitous, with consumers flocking to apps and companies that offer great customer experiences (CX). Conversely, people tend to avoid difficult or poorly designed CX.
Providing seamless digital experiences to constituents is a glaring opportunity for councils to go above and beyond in creating value, fostering deeper connections, and vastly improving community satisfaction.
Tech-enabled customer experiences don’t come easily
Why aren’t council’s putting enough focus on customer-centric digital experiences?
Creating a customer-centric council—where community views and needs permeate all aspects of decision-making and service delivery—requires consistent effort over time to make progress. Improving customer-facing software may not be the most appealing avenue due to competing priorities, as well as barriers inherent to delivering ICT projects.
These barriers can include:
- The cost and complexity of retiring and replacing multiple legacy systems and the connected business processes and employee mindsets/practices associated with them.
- Ineffective digital transformation projects that have been stalled by internal indecision or skills shortages, cost overruns, and poor change management and training processes.
- Patchy or inconsistent governance and support for customer-focused digital transformation efforts, due to changing political priorities and disruption caused by election cycles.
5 steps councils can take to improve customer centricity
These barriers can be overcome. Having reliable and complete access to customer data that can be shared and acted upon organisation-wide provides a catalyst for making further changes and tech investments with the customers’ needs front and centre.
Based on best-practice industry approaches, we suggest the following these five steps:
- 1. Capture and consolidate customer data as the foundation of your digital systems and data analytics process.
- 2. Consider re-platforming to provide better context for understanding customers by creating a more adaptable, data-driven and collaborative workforce.
- 3. Embrace omni-channel communications with an emphasis on digital-first for efficiency and responsiveness for customers.
- 4. Digitise and automate more workflows to optimise costs and empower your workforce to refine CX—such as customer reminders and seamless transition between requests, work orders and follow-ups.
- 5. Offer more self-service options and real-time updates, such as via customer portals that automatically share information with customer service teams and technicians/field staff.
Gaining momentum makes customer centric innovation simpler
The enormity of IT system remodels often leaves customer centricity by the wayside. You can push it back up-front—where it belongs—by focusing on critical elements of the customer experience that move your council closer to its goal.
As best-selling productivity author James Clear puts it: “Accumulate advantages. Feast on the feeling of success and let it feed your desire to do more.”
We’d argue that you should start with the software underpinning day-to-day interactions with your community. The online portals where local residents can find information and self-serve to complete necessary transactions are the foundation of a connected customer view.
The ideal next step is ensuring such systems are integrated with other business-critical data points and processes. That way, you can steadily work towards embedding a 360-degree customer view into every level of your operations.
Ready to take the first step?
Ready Community is Australia’s only customer-centric ERP solution, designed to put customer data at the centre of council operations. Councils can select from a range of core functional modules—like rates, asset management, and finance—that radiate outwards from an integrated community engagement platform, helping you incorporate customer data council-wide.
The built in CX Portal provides your council or government agency with a platform to connect with customers and the community. The portal provides access to key online services for all key stakeholders including staff, board, sub-contractors, clients and partners.