I was given the opportunity today to talk at a conference that brought people together to talk about transforming contact centres. It was great to hear about work going on around the country and how organisations are developing how they provide services. This is a complicated area of work with many challenges, but it is incredibly important.
People rightly expect to be able to get the same level of service from the public sector as they do from private business. They want to be able to contact in the ways that suit them and at the times that suit them. Above all they want to be treated as individuals and this is a huge problem for public services that need to save money. Providing a customised service is expensive and means having many communication channels open for people to access.
But I think we can do much more to provide a range of channels without costing a fortune. They key for me lies in the principles detailed in Gov.uk which talks about doing the hard work so that it is easy for people to do business. It also puts the user at the heart of the developments. There are other important messages and I would recommend checking them out. So, there was one voice that appeared to be missing from the conference today and it was the most important one – the service user.
We also need to think differently about contact centres and public contact. It is often dealt with in isolation and lacks a connection to other parts of the organisation. Perhaps it is time to start looking holistically at what we do. Communication has a huge part to play in public contact and it starts with the work to build trust and confidence from people. We are already having conversations with service users through social media and this is the foundation of all public contact work.
I enjoyed the discussion today which has given me some fresh thinking and ideas for the future to really make contact work for the people who matter, those needing services.