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Public sector digital trends 2023 collection | Article

Looking afresh at customer services

Many public service organisations plan to review their customer service strategy in 2023 or have recently done so, particularly to reflect digital possibilities and expectations.

“Customer service and government are two things that I often see as diametrically opposed. As a result, it is not surprising that citizens lose confidence and trust in government. It is high time that governments learn to think as customer-oriented organisations and deliver service that meet every citizen’s expectation. For this to happen, many of the rules and silo-based processes will have to die. Customer satisfaction as a parameter to evaluate a government service, why not?”

Geert Sinnaeve, Directeur ICT Shared Services Groep Roeselare, Belgium

It is often said that public services lag behind digital best practice in the private sector. Evidence from McKinsey points to a trend of falling satisfaction in commercial digital services (at least in the USA). Poor user experience and a fall in trust are the main causes, which need to be the main areas of focus for public services in their digital developments in 2023.

However, there are other factors at play in the public sector. Relational services, common in high expenditure areas such as social care, demand a different approach that goes well beyond the simplified notion of transactional customer service. Many local authorities are tackling these more complex service designs in collaboration with partners and service users, achieving significant improvements in social impact and better outcomes.

The priorities emerging for public service organisations planning to refocus their customer service strategies on service users in 2023 will be based a number of reported drivers (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Drivers in 2023 for public service customer strategy renewal

“Many citizen interactions with public services are now by ‘digital natives’. They know the ‘art of the possible’ and have lived through the pandemic adopting systems like Zoom and Teams. The days of multiple departmental portals on a council website are numbered.”

Paul Tomlinson, Managing Director, IEG4

In 2023, with a predicted growth of digital investment in the public sector, the gap between commercial and public digital service may close, at least for leading public service organisations.  The leadership for this will come from politicians and CEOs, more than from IT possibilities or the advocacies of CIOs alone.

Case study

Digital Stockport

Re-designing the way we recruit foster carers – Part 1 (

‘Digital Stockport’ is taking a practical approach – Understand-Discover-Define-Develop-Deliver-Support-Sustain-Iterate – to revolutionise its fostering service. By undertaking a whole service review, working with the internal digital team, the team has transformed the way their staff engage with carers and foster client:

“Every design decision we’ve made, and are still making, has been backed up by evidence from user feedback and/or analytics. The feedback that we gain from user testing is invaluable, and has meant that we were able to keep the user at the forefront of our minds and take their needs on board as we went through the design process”

– Digital Practice Team, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, England