Councils have long been seeking a 360-degree view of the community. This includes information about rates, applications, consents, permits, animal ownership, infringements, payments, requests for service, long-term plan submissions, library borrowings, and more. If you're closer to your community, you can provide better, more relevant services and tailor those services to the community. But the challenge is how to get there.
Other industries, such as banking, have done a great job at organising their customers' data. When we call our bank, we expect they'll know what accounts we have and any issues we've previously had or spoken to them about.
Councils have always struggled to provide this complete view. The desire is there, and the benefits of being closer to the community are well understood, but the practical reality is yet to be realised.
Is it the tools?
Councils could use the same tools as commercial organisations, but there's a fundamental difference. Commercial organisations sell products and services to customers. If customers are unsatisfied with what they’re buying, they simply stop. Councils, on the other hand, serve the community, including their stakeholders. If the community doesn’t like the service they’re receiving, they will vote them out.
A more complex environment
Council interactions are multidimensional; they can be made through a variety of channels, such as phone, app, website, or in person. Interactions also have many different transaction types. Some can be as simple as an online payment, while others could be more consultation based, such as regulatory applications and consents that need to be worked through with the community.
Individuals have multiple roles in the community
Members of the community can fulfil multiple roles, such as landowner, user of council services, staff member, tenant, and more. It's important to see how individuals interact with the council through all their roles. Much of this information is currently not collected by councils, so they only see some of the interactions they have with the community.
So, how do councils get to the 360-degree view?
Councils need to get closer to their community. They need to provide accessible ways for the community to interact with them and track all information in a manner that is transparent, open, and convenient.
To start with, councils need a single name and address register that can track all interactions. The catch is that this can't be in one tool. Rather, it needs to be in many with information aggregating to a central repository.
This is now possible with native cloud, which allows the collation of information from numerous sources. It helps customers to interact with councils through the web, apps, phone, and in person. Solutions designed in the past couldn't do this. The solution needs to be designed with the complexity of councils in mind. The solution will then be able to drill into the multitude of interactions individuals have with councils.
In the past, a 360-degree view of the community was a dream, but I believe it's now something that can be achieved. The technology is now available to produce the outcome required, and it's something the community wants, so let’s give it to them. It's time to take a 360-degree view of the community out of the 'too-hard' basket and make it a reality.