Last year, we asked the Australian public sector to look for every opportunity to integrate and unify their communications, their applications and their systems. Unified communications is critical to both to the success of the digital transformation initiatives currently underway, and also to the adoption of flexible working practices, particularly at a local government and state government level.
Supporting digital transformation
Digital transformation initiatives at all levels of government are driving better, faster and more cost-effective service delivery, with improved overall outcomes to the community. However, this means that the services that had traditionally been provided face-to-face or person-to-person are now increasingly being delivered either online or through automation.
That has the potential to exacerbate the siloes that might exist already within the organisation, especially when citizens move out of a self-service or online channel and into a more traditional voice or in-person interaction. Unless video, voice, email, text, chat and customer data are integrated, it’s very hard for public services to provide a seamless customer experience and a co-ordinated response. This is also becoming the expectation of citizens, who are now used to engaging with their telcos, banks and other service providers via their channel of choice.
Enabling flexible work
It’s clear that unified communications’ impact is as much on the employee experience (EX) as it is about the customer experience (CX) – with a direct correlation to the organisation’s ability to deliver services to the community.
That EX is being challenged by the acceleration in the adoption of flexible working practices as a result of COVID-19. Public service colleagues who had been sitting alongside each other in the office are now just as likely to be working remotely. In a NSW Public Service Commission study, while individual, team and customer outcomes were either maintained or improved in flexible working pilots, the major threat to achieving these outcomes was identified as technology, particularly the communications tools available to remote workers. Our own research on remote work has backed this up – providing employees with access to resources and collaborative technologies fosters a ‘connected culture’ which translates into greater productivity.
Improving both CX and EX can largely be achieved by deploying a single, integrated contact centre and unified communications platform. Casey Cardinia Libraries (CCL) did this just before the lockdown last year. While CCL introduced new technology for its users, RingCentral’s ability to integrate with multiple applications, including Microsoft Teams, ensured that staff continued to use the same familiar interface and didn’t have to learn another new system. This allowed CCL to quickly transition to a remote working operation, a centralised 1800 number and online ordering system. That meant the local public library could continue delivering exceptional services to the community throughout 2020 and into 2021.
With weather extremes, bushfires and COVID-19, our communities and our public services have endured some of the most difficult conditions we have ever faced. However, we have shown during the last 18 months our resilience and adaptability in the face of these disruptive changes. Ongoing digital transformation projects and the adoption of technology remains key to maintaining this resilience. A report we published last year, COVID-19: Restarting Australia through Technology takes an in-depth look at some of the ways we achieved this in 2020.