On Day 2 of the LABC Annual Policy Conference 2016, Niall Adams, Commercial Director of Tascomi Ltd, a Software Development Company digitally transforming Local Government across the UK and Ireland, delivered an engaging talk discussing the increasing need for Local Authorities to adopt online channels in order to meet the evolving demands of modern customer service; “It’s a web enabled world, where boundaries and functions will melt and morph”.

The advancement and increased availability of technology over the last few decades has meant that society has undergone a global digital transformation and as a result, every industry is faced with a growing digital disruption. Citizens are now digital consumers, meaning that their demands on Local Authorities have changed; they expect to be able to interact with Local Authorities digitally, 24/7/365, and expect the digital service to be faster and more efficient than traditional routes. They expect to be able to access information instantly, across different mediums and different devices. As a result of this change in expectations, patience for inefficient outdated processes has dwindled.

In order to overcome and thrive within this digital disruption, Local Authorities need to define what good customer service means to the modern citizen in terms of Digital Service Delivery. Citizens expect 24/7 availability in terms of interaction with the service; submitting enquiries, tracking applications, booking inspections, making payments, they expect to ‘Do it Themselves’, and often prefer to. Local Authorities need to adopt Digital Service Channels in order to meet these growing expectations; Online Services, Live Chat, Online Guidance, Community Forums and Social Media e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogs.

Citizens often cannot differentiate between individual Local Authorities, often thinking about the collective, Local Authority, or “Building Control”. It is here that organisations like LABC are vital in creating a brand, a collective group of minds that can together address the need for a collective digital service, through the utilisation of data sharing and online communities. LABC should be Customer Centric, pulling on what they know is their customer’s “normal”, and building a joined up approach to that digital service, in order to meet the potential to deliver a better, more efficient service that will benefit both the Local Authority and the Citizen.

The modern customer expects more and Local Authorities need to think differently; to utilise available technology, to open new channels and to redefine the boundaries of customer service as they know it.