Serving citizens to the best of their ability is the main goal of governments and governmental services. Citizens are the key consumers of these services and the expectations of these citizens are increasing. In the private sector, many businesses have started to adopt a customer-centric approach to provide better experiences for their customers and make them more loyal to their product or services. User-friendliness of (digital) services is key, but one could also think of individualization of services. For example, Adidas offers customization options for their shoes on-site. By providing customers the option to customize their shoes, they are given a sense of ownership and are also more likely to purchase it. In crafting services like this, the customer is put at the center rather than the business itself.
Citizens are – of course – influenced by these interactions with private organizations and they set the bar for all kinds of interactions they have, also with their government. Even though the mindset of governmental institutions is slowly shifting, there is quite a gap created by the private sector to catch up with. Even though there is a legislative framework to consider, government services are more often than not designed around own requirements and procedures rather than the needs of the citizens. The experience of citizens is put after previously made choices like “What IT-systems should we use?” or “What procedures are necessary?”. Rather, the experience of the citizens should cause the choice of systems and procedures. Governments should change the starting point of their services by putting the citizen central in crafting their choices and directions and thereby adopting a citizen-centric approach.
In this first edition of a series of blogs, we will describe what citizen-centric services are and why we believe it is important.
What is citizen-centric design and why is it important?
Citizen-centricity can be described in several ways. Throughout our blog series, we define citizen-centric government as: “The holistic approach to shape and form the entire service journey and all related aspects of government service operations, processes and interactions from the perspective of the citizen, in order to provide the best possible citizen experience.”
The importance and urgency of adapting a citizen-centric approach becomes apparent when taking a citizen perspective.
The citizen perspective
The need to start adapting citizen-centric design can be explained and understood by taking a citizen perspective. As said before, citizens are consumers and due to the rate at which developments occur in other sectors and the extensive impact of digitalization, a gap has emerged between expectations of the citizens and the services offered by the public sector. When people get accustomed to these high levels of customer-centricity and the excellent experiences they get from it, the lack of these kind of experiences with public services becomes painfully clear. This exposes the main need from a citizen perspective; user-friendly interaction channels that result in seamless and individualized experiences.
Citizens want to have as little friction as possible in their interaction with public services. One can imagine that finding the right service sometimes already is difficult, so citizens demand user-friendly, read: easily accessible, easy to understand and use, services. Moreover, citizens crave seamless experiences, that integrate services and help them get what they need quickly. Citizens also want to be heard and expect their experiences to be tailored to their specific needs. Lastly, it is becoming more important for many citizens to be ensured that their data is handled securely. Yet, citizen-centricity is not exclusively for the sake of the citizens, it also brings about a range of benefits for governments.
The government perspective
Currently, governments may perceive switching their perspective to that of the citizen as a hurdle, as this requires a fully new way of designing the service journey. Yet, there is no need to show resistance towards taking a citizen perspective. Developing services from a citizen perspective also contributes to government benefits, making citizen-centric design a win-win situation. Firstly, as citizen satisfaction increases, citizens are nine times more likely to trust the service provider. Moreover, dissatisfied citizens are two times more likely to publicly express their complaints. Hence, citizen satisfaction contributes to less negative exposure. If services are designed logically from a citizen point-of-view, less questions will need to be answered by client contact centers. This implies creating and designing services in a holistic way. Holistically developed services make risks concerning the executability arise sooner and thereby allow for early adjustments. By looking at the citizen experience in addition to an efficient process, the service offerings will be more efficient and affordable. When this ‘happy flow’ is developed correctly, opportunities for customizing the services for the citizens arise.
Governments thus are already on their way to becoming more citizen-centric, however there is still plenty of opportunity for improvement. Governmental bodies across the world should be inspired to put the citizen at the heart of their operations beyond early eGovernment initiatives. Citizen-centric services should be built around certain pillars. To start, services should be user-friendly and secure, and offer tailored, seamless experiences. From a government perspective a better understanding of the needs of their citizens can help to earn more trust from their citizens and make their services more efficient.
In the next blog of this series, we will explore in more detail how the countries that provide citizen-centric best practices developed over time and construct recommendations on how to become more citizen-centric.
This blog was written by Sem Enzerink, Laura van Knippenberg, Elisa Vlaanderen and co-authored by Harm Erbé and Wies Keijzer.
Do you want to learn more about how to put the citizen at the heart of their operations beyond early eGovernment initiatives? Visit our website here or contact our experts below.
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Director Digital Government at Capgemini Invent the Netherlands
Manager at Capgemini Invent the Netherlands
Senior Consultant Customer Transformation at Capgemini Invent the Netherlands
Consultant Customer Transformation at Capgemini Invent the Netherlands
Consultant Business Data Strategy at Capgemini Invent the Netherlands