There are three big shifts we believe can help create a more unified public sector but these are not simple changes to make. This is relocating, recladding, and reroofing the house of government.

Seeking out the sameness

We understand the need to stop designing services in isolation, with a focus on the need for collaboration and sharing of data to create a common user experience. This is important to the users because when citizens and businesses engage with the public sector, it's usually for a purpose that has little to do with the transaction.

I don’t go to Mitre10 to buy a drill because I want a hole in my wall. My need is to hang up a new TV. The drill is how I achieve that. Before selling me a drill, a Mitre10 team member asks why I need the drill, then they offer advice on a better way to hang the TV, and check I have the right cables and brackets to make it work. They walk me around the store, helping me select the right things to achieve my goal.

This is exactly what public sector reforms need to do — shift from a set of individual agencies to a system of capabilities that deliver joined-up services. The reforms aim to create commonality of service across agencies — a single service experience for citizens rather than multiple transactions, interfaces, and processes.

Make room for the human

Imagine if no matter where, or how, you engaged with the public sector, you got the same great service and experience. While this may be difficult to achieve in a physical face-to-face interaction, it is more than just possible through digital and remote channels, it is essential. A digital concierge could understand the context of your needs and help walk you through all the agency interactions you need.

We piloted a multi-agency digital concierge in 2019. The technology worked, but the challenge was the ability of one agency to provide advice on behalf of others. The issue of jurisdiction got in the way. The public sector reforms have created a solution to this through the establishment of inter-departmental ventures, which bring together the delivery of services from multiple agencies.

The key to success is measuring customer satisfaction across government on a continuous basis.

From compliance to care

The reforms reinforce the spirit of service, moving the perception of government being a monopoly to a customer-focused service provider. No longer will we hear a reference to the regulated community when agencies are talking about citizens and businesses — they are there to serve.

There's much to be gained from placing a greater level of trust in citizens and businesses accessing public services. We need to open the channels available to them to reach into government.

Communications with many agencies are still hidden behind contact centres and websites. If a citizen wants to have a deeper conversation, they are often told to write a letter. The reforms seek to address this by having the public sector become an enabler. Although there is a focus on embracing digital technology to support this, it's not at the expense of human interaction.

The reforms go a long way to transforming the state sector of the 1980s into the public sector of today. Perhaps the public sector should embrace crowdsourcing to help citizens find the answers they need faster. A community forum could allow people to provide feedback, suggest improvements, and offer advice to each other.

Public servants shouldn’t fear this transparency. It is better to know what people are saying about you so you can identify and address the commonly identified pain points than to pretend everything is OK if it's not.

None of these things will happen overnight, nor are we suggesting they should. However, we can start making the changes that will help us achieve a truly unified public service.

Mike’s background brings together a deep understanding of technology from his early career as a developer, with strong business acumen and leadership from 20 years of senior leadership roles in the IT industry. Mike has a passion for helping organisations understand how to apply technology to solve complex problems and improve customer experience.

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