Delivering customer experience like Amazon or Apple


How can governments deliver customer experience like Amazon or Apple?


Driven by the ‘digital natives’, the public have grown to expect an online, easy experience. How can government agencies keep up?

It is a truism that a government’s community of stakeholders is comprised of people who aren’t just customers or partners of government departments but consumers of services from a wide variety of providers like Uber, AirBnB, Netflix, Apple and Amazon. As Accenture puts it, “consumer expectations have become truly liquid across different product and service categories”. Seemingly overnight, areas of government that deal with the public, like licensing and compliance divisions, or application processing agencies, find themselves being compared with digital behemoths with deep pockets and a ‘digital native’ outlook (i.e., not hampered by a legacy of manual processes, old systems and ways of doing things that are sometimes decades old).  

What do these digital exemplars of a great customer experience have in common, and how on earth can government departments, stretched to the limit as it is, hope to match them?  This article seeks answer these questions.

The Basics of a Great Customer Experience

Good customer service isn’t just about a great user interface, although that helps, as we’ll see. We’ve identified three aspects that need to be covered in order to deliver like Apple.

  1. Timely response.  82% of customers say the number one factor to great customer service is having their issues resolved quickly, and according to Edelman Digital, more than half of consumers expect a response from customer service within an hour, even on weekends. Government departments need to be able to provide as fast a response as possible, including out of hours. Which brings us to…..
  1. Online/ self-service. 86% of consumers expect companies to have an online portal for customer service. For areas of Government with key roles directly serving the public, self-service is not only more efficient, but delivers much greater satisfaction. Which is all part of….  
  1. The user experience. People form 75% of their judgment on a website’s credibility purely on its aesthetics, according to Stanford University. In the government world, credibility is a vital factor, since the community needs to trust the content and processes behind it.


How can government departments meet these three criteria?
  1. Timely response.  A timely response to queries, concerns and requests is all about having access to the right data from the right place at the right time. We find that what holds government departments back from this aim is that data is held in disparate, unconnected systems, making it outdated, uncoordinated and inaccessible. Using the Appian platform, we’ve been able to provide a single view of all relevant information across existing systems and data sources, bringing it together with automated workflows to enable a rapid and consistent response. Most importantly, we do this without having to migrate data from legacy systems into new ones. This means a much faster, less risky and more economical solution. Agencies can quickly implement case, document and correspondence management solutions that address their specific requirements. So governments don’t need to invest millions to be like Amazon.
  1. Online/ self-service. Once all the necessary data is available in a single view, is up to date and, most importantly, reliable, it can be made available online. In our experience, one of the easiest ‘wins’ to deliver to customers is the availability of online forms. And depending on the application, departments can process the forms automatically - in some cases even giving approvals where appropriate.
  1. The user experience. As with Amazon, streamlined and automated business processes are only as good as the interfaces and user experiences that deliver them. As part of our end-to-end solution offering, we offer a user experience service. We can provide an omni-channel experience to customers delivered on a choice of devices, each offering a rich user interface designed with optimum usability in mind to deliver the credibility demanded of government agencies.  

With the growth of customer expectations driven inexorably by the likes of Amazon and Apple, it isn’t impossible – it needn’t even be time-consuming or expensive – to deliver a great customer experience to government customers. Automation, based on coordinated, centralised data is at the heart of what can be achieved, and at the heart of what we’ve done for many government agencies.