01 Jul 2021

Salesforce: Place the citizen at the heart of public services

The pandemic as a catalyst for change

Digital public services in the UK rank among the best in the world. Yet, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed key gaps in the ability of governments around the world to act responsively and scale to meet the problem of the day. Office closures had a dual impact: converting most of the civil service into a remote workforce almost overnight; and driving an unprecedented surge in demand for digital and remote government services. Despite being an early leader, the UK’s progress on digitising public services is stalling. This decline in standing pre-dates the pandemic, which only served to expose and exacerbate gaps. It must be said that overall, UK government services and the enabling technologies have shown tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic, but there is clear room for growth.

The future of public services is citizen-centric

The good news is that there is a coincidence of interests between improving the quality of public services, making them more resilient, and increasing efficiency. As with commercial services, public services must evolve to become customer-centric.

From the citizen’s perspective, government should:

  • Focus on what I need - provide services that are relevant and useful to me and my situation
  • Meet me where I am - be available on channels that I am familiar with and prefer, especially self-service
  • Make it clear & transparent - help me understand the process upfront; give me insight into progress after I apply
  • Make it easy - the interface, information, and overall experience are natural and intuitive
  • Do it quickly - even the less critical requests are processed in a timely manner, let alone important and urgent ones
  • Do it safely - you have sensitive information about me so please safeguard it appropriately

Government as a Platform 2.0

Public administrations must first place the citizen at the centre of their organisation, moving away from system-centric or process-centric design, to person-centric. Across the commercial world, we see a shift towards a modular, composable, and connected enterprise.

To deliver on this vision across public services, five core competencies are required:

  1. Relationship Management - Behind every process is a person, or group of people. Build a single view of the citizen, including a history of touchpoints.
  2. Case Management - Agencies’ relationship with stakeholders generally comes in the form of requests, or “cases”. Cases underpin licensing, grants, benefit requests, and other missions and functions.
  3. Collaboration - Cases will often span more than one division, even multiple agencies or departments. Efficient collaboration is essential to speedy and comprehensive citizen service.
  4. Integration - Enrich the Citizen 360˚ and build a “single pane of glass” for employees.
  5. Data Insights - Unlock the power of data in a way that builds public trust in decision-making and enables data-driven innovation.

Digital transformation is an economic imperative

Digital transformation is not a blocker, but an opportunity to invest in improved outcomes. To maximise the impact of transformation efforts, focus on these questions:

  • Economic & Societal Impact - Which services are most impactful to the greatest number of people? 
  • Administrative Overhead - Which processes are most burdensome administratively?
  • IT Total Cost of Ownership - Which systems are costly to run or enhance? 

With billions of pounds pouring into the economy through funds like the Restart Grant and Recovery Loan Scheme, the economic imperative becomes all the more important, to get the most money out, quickly and securely, to the right beneficiaries. 


This article was written by Paul Pick-Aluas who leads Digital Transformation for Europe Public Sector at Salesforce. Learn more about this author here.

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